Beef cattle carbon emissions scheme ‘could disadvantage us’ – farmer

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A County Londonderry farmer has raised concerns about a scheme aimed at reducing carbon emissions from beef cattle.

Jonathan Blair is the third generation of his family to work their farmland near Ballykelly.

His focus is on regenerative agriculture, mimicking nature and trying to let that do some of the heavy lifting in addressing climate change.

But he says the new scheme could put him at a disadvantage.

The Beef Carbon Reduction Scheme (BCRS) will reduce the age at which cattle go to slaughter on a phased basis.

The age of slaughter is due to fall from 30 months now in year one to 26 months in 2027.

Mr Blair’s focus has been on pasture-fed beef – animals reared as much as possible on grass and which can be slower to reach slaughter weight.

But while he understands the point of the BCRS, he is concerned about its impact on farmers like him.

“What we’re trying to do on this farm is try and produce our beef off grass-only, a naturally-occurring diet for ruminants,” he said.

“They’re not actually really intended to eat grain, we’ve just been able to feed them grain and got results off of that.

“So purely pasture-based and purely grass-fed beef animals will be held at a disadvantage to this as will rare breeds and breeds of cattle which are used in conservation type-grazing or hill-grazing where the environment is much harsher.”

Louise Cullen | BBC News

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