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Australian Cattle Council : Yearbook 2010
32 YEARBOOK 2010 CATTLE COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA Environmental stewardship module This is already happening on a daily basis. International retailers such as Tesco and Walmart are already requesting suppliers demonstrate environmental stewardship. A study conducted by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries has found that "green food", or food produced in a sustainable way, has strong appeal in China, the UK and the EU. It is unlikely that green attributes will become more important than price, quality and safety for most mainstream consumers, however, benefits from "green" marketing and eco-labelling may assist us to develop preferential supplier status and maintaining market access (and share) in increasingly discerning markets. The emerging challenge to address some community perceptions that eating red meat is 'bad for the environment' due to greenhouse gas emissions and water use is something that Cattle Council has been working on for some time now. Cattle Council has been working with Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) to develop an environmental stewardship module, which will be accessible to producers as an add on module to the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) Quality Assurance program. Major suppliers are in direct contact with MLA, investigating the potential for an environmental stewardship module to show case the environmental credentials of the grazing industry. In developing a module, Cattle Council believes that a coordinated national approach is considered essential, however, many environmental indicators and outcomes will be set at the regional and farm level to ensure the modules are workable at the farm level. To further increase uptake and accessibility, working partnerships will be explored with regional groups, agencies, scientists, etc to define the environmental assets and threats, set benchmarks and targets for improvement, and to develop management strategies to achieve these targets. Through the implementation of the module, the industry intends to build knowledge and trust among community and customers that the Australian red meat industry is responding appropriately to climate change. The desired long-term outcome is to minimise the impacts of climate change policy and negative market influences on the Australian red meat industry. Cattle Council believes that the module must be built on a credible framework and clearly define a minimum level of acceptable conduct. For this reason the module will be underpinned by yearly 3rd party audits conducted by AUSMEAT. On-farm adoption of new solutions for environmental sustainability is a critical success factor for the program. The primary drivers of adoption have been, and will continue to be increased production and/or reduced costs. Yet, not all environmental issues can be addressed via production/cost incentives. Investments are also being made to provide strategic direction and to better position the industry to manage risks associated with emerging issues that have the potential to act as important adoption drivers in the future. These include securing access to natural resources, maintaining market access, ensuring demand in changing markets, and participating in new trading mechanisms for environmental services. The participation of landholders in the trial and development of the environmental stewardship module is critical. Increasing consumer and community scrutiny of the environmental credentials and environmental sustainability of the beef cattle industry will have a significant influence on the future competitiveness of beef in the domestic and export market place. Jed Matz Deputy Director Cattle Council of Australia Cattle Council of Australia encourages producers and groups who are interested in participating in the development of the livestock industry environmental stewardship to contact: Andrew Freeman Project Manager -- Environmental Systems Meat & Livestock Australia T: +61 (0)7 3620 5232, F: +61 (0)7 3620 5200 M: 0438 656 326 , E: firstname.lastname@example.org