Demonstrating sustainable beef farming

Leanne Sherriff (email) and Jo Jones (email)

Customers and other industry stakeholders are increasingly looking for evidence of sustainable production practices across agricultural industries, including beef production. The ‘demonstrating beef sustainability credentials and fostering practice change’ project provides an opportunity for beef producers to demonstrate their sustainable production practices. The project gives producers and beef industry stakeholders an opportunity to design and build sustainability reporting and learning platforms that are simple, practical, user friendly and meaningful.

The project will enable beef producers to take advantage of emerging opportunities presented by markets and supply chains looking to access red meat with verified sustainability credentials.

The demonstrating beef sustainability project is a partnership between MLA, University of Queensland and WWF-Australia, funded through the National Landcare Program’s Smart Farming Partnership grant. The project will run for three years, finishing in June 2023 and will engage beef producers and value chain stakeholders throughout the project.

Pinion Advisory have recently commenced in the National Coordinator role.

The project is designed to enable beef producers to demonstrate environmental credentials to red meat customers across five themes:

  • Balance of tree and grass cover
  • Biodiversity stewardship
  • Ground cover and soil conservation
  • Carbon balance
  • Drought resilience

The project will develop an on-line sustainability platform, with relevant measuring tools and links to learning modules for each of the five themes. Wherever possible, the platform will use remote sensing tools (e.g. satellite imagery) for demonstrating sustainability. Learning modules, based on best practice science, will be available for producers seeking to improve their knowledge and practice. The platform will be opt-in and confidential, with beef producers in control of their own data.

The project will directly engage grass-fed beef producers in the design and development of each of the themes. For each theme there will be a co-design group responsible for developing the measures and learning module. Each theme will be peer reviewed by technical experts aligned with the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework. There will also be an opportunity for the wider industry to test and pilot the platform before it is finalised.

An advisory group, made up of representatives from beef producers, processors, retailers, food production companies and independent stakeholders with relevant expertise, will guide the project. They will provide strategic input and advice to the project team, to ensure the beef sustainability project meets the needs of producers and value chain stakeholders.

The Pinion project coordination team consists of Leanne Sherriff (lead), Basil Doonan (business planning and technical advice) and Jo Jones (project management support). The team will draw on our extensive livestock industry networks across Australia in a range of sectors from producers, processors, advisors and consultants, government extension providers and researchers.

We look forward to sharing updates about this exciting new project with our clients as developments occur and bringing you on the journey as the platform takes shape.

Photo: Ryan Francis