The National Beef Association (NBA) has faced a backlash of criticism from UK beef producers following its proposals to redefine ‘prime’ cattle and introduce a carbon tax in an attempt to reduce emissions from livestock.
The NBA announced plans to change the definition of ‘prime’ cattle - currently defined as any cattle slaughtered between 12 and 30 months of age - to be restricted to animals slaughtered between 10 and 28 months by 2023 and 27 months by 2025.
In addition, the proposals included the introduction of an environmental, or carbon tax to be applied to any cattle killed over the 28 month threshold at a suggested rate of £100 per head.
As expected, the FUW received an angry response during a joint meeting of its Livestock, Wool and Marts & Hill farming and Marginal Land Committees on Monday 19 October.
Many delegates highlighted the particular impact the proposals would have for traditional breeds and certain grass-based sustainable farming systems which are of particular importance to the environment.
While the carbon benefits of finishing animals more quickly are well known for certain farming systems, the estimated annual reduction in CO2 emissions of 80,000 tonnes would reduce total UK greenhouse gas emissions by around 0.1%, according to the NBA figures. However, many have commented that the full environmental and carbon cost of moving away from traditional grass-based systems has not been taken into account given the potential for additional off-farm emissions to increase under the proposals and the reliance of important habitats and species on grazing by more traditional and hardy breeds.