A new farm initiative under the heading ‘Programme to improve the sustainability of red meat’ (PRISM 2030) has been launched in the UK by ABP Food Group.
In total, up to 350 ABP beef and sheep suppliers in NI and Britain will be able to take part in the three-year initiative, which ultimately aims to improve the sustainability credentials of red meat.
Explaining the background at an event on Tuesday, Dean Holroyd from ABP said the project will identify the main ways in which farms can lower their carbon footprint, although it will also look at wider environmental issues, including water quality, soil health and biodiversity.
He said that “sustainability grants” will be on offer as well as peer-to-peer learning and expert advice throughout.
Information from the project will also be made available to all farmers. “The most sustainable farms are often the most productive farms,” said Holroyd.
Any supplier interested in taking part, should get in touch with ABP.
The company has commissioned agri-business consultancy firm, Andersons to undertake on-farm carbon assessments.
This data gathering process should take around two hours on-farm, with the information uploaded to Agrecalc, a carbon calculator developed in Scotland and now widely used in NI by the likes of CAFRE and AFBI.
A summary report will be given to the farmer, which will also show how performance compares to industry averages.
The data collected for each individual farm will then be anonymised and sent to Harper Adams University for “further analysis and research”.
“We will repeat the exercise in a couple of years to see what was achieved and identify where there are the biggest wins,” added Holroyd.
Also speaking at the event, Professor Jude Capper from Harper Adams highlighted the importance of having real data from across UK farms on the carbon footprint of red meat production.
She maintained there are “huge opportunities” to reduce carbon output, whether by lowering the age of cattle at slaughter, reducing the age at first calving in sucklers, or improving overall animal health on farms.