Beef production to drop [but only 16%] under climate change targets – EU Commission

By Thomas Hubert on 13 February 2017

  • Beef production drop expected under 2030 climate targets according to the European Commission.
    Beef production drop expected under 2030 climate targets according to the European Commission.

The European beef herd could shrink by up to 16% under the cost 2030 greenhouse gas emission targets, but subsidies could help alleviate the burden, according to the European Commission.

Dan Burgar Kuzelicki, policy officer at the Environment, climate change, forestry and bio-economy department of the European Commission, presented the figures at the Agricultural Science Association’s climate change conference in Portlaoise last week.

According to him, the EU’s beef herd size is expected to fall by between 6.6% and 16% across the EU by the time 2030 climate targets are implemented. This is the result of a European Commission model illustrated by the map above.

In Ireland, the cost of implementing greenhouse gas emission cuts on beef farms would result in a drop in cattle numbers by up to 5% in the southern half of the country and up to 8% in the northern half.

However, targeting CAP subsidies to cover 80% of the costs associated with better climate efficiency in beef farming would mitigate the impact, with herd size expected to drop by up to 2% in the south and up to 5% in the north under this scenario.

In all cases, beef production is expected to drop.

Additives and grass quality to cut emissions from livestock

Tommy Boland, associate professor of ruminant nutrition at UCD, presented some of the latest research into techniques exploerd to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cattle and sheep.

A number of inhibitors are being tested as additives to feed to reduce methane production. While some have shown detrimental side effects, a chemical called 3-nitrooxypropanol (3-NOP) is showing promising results. Feeding 2G/day of 3NOP to beef cattle has shown to reduce methane emissions from over 20g/kg to under 10g/kg of weight gain. Meanwhile, methane emissions from dairy cattle receiving 3-NOP have dropped from 18g/kg to 12g/kg of milk solids.

Feeding soya oil and, to a greater extent, linseed oil was also found to reduce the rate of methane emissions from dairy cows, Boland said.

However, he questioned the sustainability of those oil sources and pointed out that grass was an alternative source of fatty acids, with further research required in this area. Boland’s own research shows that improving grass quality has a direct impact on the methane emissions of dairy cow.

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Full coverage: agriculture and climate change


8 thoughts on “Beef production to drop [but only 16%] under climate change targets – EU Commission

  1. Yes, a very small step. And I’ll have to see it to believe it. The farmers will probably get subsidies. I wonder if they can argue before the WTO that such a demand in cattle reduction would discriminate and place Europe at a disadvantage in the globalization free market.

  2. I think the only way to stop this madness is to show the cruelty that happens in factory farms on mainstream TV shows. I know in some places like Australia, New Zealand and Korea the animal welfare activists do this and they have high success rate in getting their message across.

    • I agree. But when some stations have tried it, too many people were outraged–not at the cruelty to the animals but because they were upset seeing it! That says a lot about our species!

      • I am sure people would be outraged but I don’t think that should prevent the TV stations to show it. After all it is the ignorance of the majority of people that keeps these atrocities going. I think that should be the way to fight back at any cost.

  3. Yes, the stations should have the courage to show the videos. If people are more concerned about their own discomfort than the agony of the animals, then shame on them!

    • Exactly! So why don’t we see a single TV program or show depicting the plight of animals in this country? We see thousands of hours of TV shows about all sorts of liberal agenda from gender issues to race relations, so much that you get sick of it. But there is not a single TV program that deals with what is happening to animals in this country. That is why I despise liberal media because they are selective in what they want the people to know and what they want to change. The liberals are just bullshit hypocrites! Of course I know why there is no TV shows about suffering of animals in this country. It is all about money.
      The cruelty towards animals in US and Canada is disgraceful. When it comes to hideousness of some of the things people do to animals, US and Canada rank right next to some of the poorest and the cruelest countries in the world!

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