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Brisbane expert’s bid to convince UN over farm sustainability

An Australian expert will use a speech to the United Nations to demand global sustainability standards for livestock producers.

 

Sep 29, 2022, updated Sep 29, 2022
Graincorp's first-half profit fell by a massive 75 per cent.. (Image: Farm Weekly)

Graincorp's first-half profit fell by a massive 75 per cent.. (Image: Farm Weekly)

Brisbane-based organic standards consultant Marg Will will address a seminar on sustainable meat and livestock in Switzerland on Thursday.

Her speech will form part of a session examining how to reduce carbon emissions from meat production.

“The need for standards around sustainability is great, is urgent,” Will told AAP from Geneva.

She is critical of Australia’s system, which allows emitters to buy carbon credits to offset emissions, while continuing to discharge greenhouse gas.

“What we’re trying to do by introducing standards is avoid greenwashing,” Will said.

Her speech will also explore the importance of maintaining consumer confidence.

She said some of her larger clients, who ran herds of up to 60,000 beef cattle, were among the most sustainable operators.

“Some of these large-scale guys have been the very early adopters of emissions reduction technologies, but they don’t get recognised for it.”

Australia’s red meat industry contributes around 10 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Meat and Livestock Association, down from 22 per cent in 2005.

“Sustainability is more than just a single solution or a single action,” Will said.

She told AAP major retailers had reported increased awareness about sustainability from consumers, but most people didn’t trust the claims being made.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission last week warned businesses to substantiate any environmental or sustainability claims.

Will said businesses applying sustainability standards should be able to demonstrate how they set, monitor, achieve and review their targets.

“Once standards are introduced we’re going to see a lot less grey area and a lot more clarity for supermarkets, consumers, producers, processors, and investors around just what sustainability is.”

But the consultant and small scale beef producer has warned against regulation, in a bid to ensure any standards can be regularly reviewed and updated.

“Keep the government out of this, keep the regulatory system out of it in terms of developing the standards,” she told AAP.

The event will also hear from Joanne Barber, the chief operating officer of Australian company FutureFeed, who will discuss how livestock feed additives made from seaweed are reducing methane emissions from cattle and sheep.

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