“Never a better time to eat Aussie beef” as new report shines the spotlight on sustainability

AgForce has welcomed a new report which cements Australia as a world leader in beef production.

The 2023 annual update by the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF), shines the spotlight on sustainability and animal care, and proves there has never been a better time to eat Aussie beef.

With Australia’s red meat industry working towards a target of being carbon neutral by 2030, figures reveal progress is already being made, with net CO2 emissions in 2020 of 45.21 million tonnes – 64.07 per cent below 2005 levels.

What’s more, animal welfare continues to be a priority, with industry increasing the percentage of feedlot capacity with access to shade to 63 per cent – on track to reach its goal of 100 per cent by 2026.

In addition, the mortality rate of cattle during sea voyages has more than halved in two years – now at a record low of 0.05 per cent – and tree cover on grazing land increases of almost 780,000 hectares (between 2020 and 2021), with legal removal of primary vegetation at an historic low.

AgForce Cattle Board President Peter Hall endorsed the strong performance – a reflection of how seriously producers take their responsibilities towards animals, the environment, and their consumers.

“This report is an undeniably good news story that needs to be told,” he said.

“We can certainly stand proudly on the global stage knowing that our producers are stewards of the environment, acutely aware of their responsibility to care for this country’s natural assets.

“As an industry we take great responsibility and accountability in working towards nature positive goals – soil, vegetation, water and biodiversity are always front of mind.

“That’s what makes the Australian cattle industry a world leader.

“Consumers need to know that there has never been a better time to eat Aussie beef.

“Our beef contains 12 essential nutrients recommended for good health and is an excellent source of iron, zinc and omega-3, and we are driving productivity to ensure everyone can enjoy it.”

Mr Hall said success had come despite the challenges of recent years – drought, floods and fires, labour shortages, the threat of foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease, and rising energy costs – which had taken their toll on farmers.

“The industry has faced significant challenges, but our cattle producers have excelled, and have proven to be an essential food source worth investing in,” he added.

“The endless energy our producers and industry put into producing our trusted Aussie beef, taking care of the Australian landscape, and loving the animals in their care, is admirable.”

Driven by industry and led by AgForce Cattle Board Director Mark Davie’s Sustainability Steering Group, the ABSF was developed to meet the changing expectations of customers, consumers, and investors, while identifying opportunities for industry improvement.

After a process of stakeholder engagement, development and consultation, the Australian beef industry has now committed to the following five goals:

  • The Australian beef industry is guided by the five domains of animal welfare. The industry provides all cattle with an environment in which they can thrive in accord with these domains.
  • By 2030, the Australian beef industry will demonstrate its net positive contributions to nature.
  • The Australian beef industry will achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions across its production and processing sectors by 2030.
  • The value of Australian beef industry products and services doubles from 2020 levels by 2030 resulting in a profitable and resilient industry.
  • The Australian beef industry is trusted, attractive to a diverse workforce, a source of pride and belonging, and makes a positive contribution to the food security of Australian and international communities.

Mr Hall said the goals were important in order to keep building trust with consumers, but he said consumers had a part to play too.

“It’s important for consumers to realise cattle are not the enemy when it comes to climate concerns,” he said.

“We need people to understand and acknowledge our emissions are fully recycled and differ from those produced by fossil fuels.

“We are well advanced in identifying approaches to reduce methane as part of our target to be carbon neutral by 2030.

“With only three per cent of Australia’s landscape suitable for cropping, the cattle are out there converting grasses that humans can’t eat into a healthy product they can eat, as well as stimulating plant growth in the grasses they have grazed which means more carbon dioxide is pulled from the atmosphere into the plants and soil.

“Cattle are not the problem – they are part of the solution.

“Let’s celebrate that and look to the future as we work to continually improve and showcase our credentials.”

/Public Release. View in full here.