The beef carbon report measured and monitored carbon emissions from more than 1,300 beef farms in the UK and Ireland. It was launched by McDonald’s UK supply chain director Connor McVeigh at the 2016 National Farmers’ Union conference in Birmingham on 23 February.
McDonalds say its study has driven a 23% reduction in carbon emissions on the farms it monitored. This drop in the carbon footprint indicates that the beef industry may be capable of achieving the 11% voluntary reduction target set by the UK government for 2020.
So far, more than 16,000 farmers across 22 countries have used the study as a blueprint for reducing the amount of CO2 they produce on their farms. Farmers who participated in the study reduced their carbon footprint by nearly a quarter (23%) between 2008 and 2014 and identified annual savings of up to £23,000 ($32,042).
McDonalds: we want to help sector
“Carbon reduction targets have been in place for some time and we know farmers are under growing pressure to meet them,” said McVeigh.
“The question has been, what practical steps can we as an industry take to drive these improvements? As one of the biggest customers of British and Irish farming, we want to help the sector meet these challenges and thrive in the future.
“That’s why we commissioned one of the largest ever independent carbon studies carried out directly with beef farmers in the UK and Ireland to provide practical advice and guidance that can help farmers to become more sustainable and profitable.”
Put simply, McDonalds believes the carbon report can help beef farmers around the world achieve the voluntary reduction targets set by international governments after the UN conference on climate change in Paris last December.
How to reduce carbon on your farm?
Measure and monitor – if you can’t measure your carbon footprint, you can’t manage it
Benchmark – know where you stand against your competitors and fellow farmers
Focus on live weight gain – this helps reduce on farm and digestive emissions
Use protocols to improve animal health – safeguard welfare, reduce mortality and boost performance
Maximise home-grown forage – improved grassland management and diet can help with this
Reduce calving interval – breed for fertility in suckler herds, ensure close heat management and optimum first calving age