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What’s your beef ? by National Trust

National Trust have produced a report comparing intensive, semi-intensive and organic, grass fed beef rearing farms and their impact on greenhouse gas production and ecosystems services.

Here are their conclusions:

Our findings, based on modelled sequestration
data, indicate that the GHG impact of extensive
beef production is not as high as calculated by less
complete models. This should be reassuring for less
intensive farmers faced with the obligation to reduce
GHG emissions – it is possible that extensive grassland
may in fact be carbon neutral or positive.

When the true benefits to ecosystem services
and human health are included, extensive livestock
production on grassland is reaffirmed as the best use
of this resource to produce food for people.

On the basis of the issues covered in this report,
our stance on beef production is that we will maintain
our wider view of sustainability, which embraces optimal
agricultural production based on land capability, animal
welfare, local food production, and the protection of
ecosystem services. We will continue our commitment
to GHG reduction by sharing expertise between farmers
on carbon-friendly farming, and maintaining our
commitment to protect existing carbon-rich soils
wherever they occur on our land holding.

We will also continue to press for more formal
and robust market mechanisms that reward farmers
for the wider ecosystem benefits – including reduced
GHG production – that extensive, grass-fed beef clearly
brings. We need to future-proof all our farming, and
a dash for maximised beef production in the face of
increasing population demands risks long-term damage
to the farmed and wider environment. finding ways to
make it pay for farmers to pursue extensive, grass-fed
beef systems will become increasingly important.

full report: