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Is there such thing as Carbon Neutral beef?

Yes, however, there’s only one producer in Australia certified with carbon-neutral beef by the Australian Government Carbon Neutral Program.

There are different ways to become carbon-neutral. The reduction of CO emissions can occur either by avoiding emissions or by removing greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere by increasing the terrestrial carbon sink. No-till methods, better fertilisation management techniques, use of nitrogen-fixing legumes crops in rotations and livestock management (such as improved feeding practices, long-term structural and management changes, and breeding) are ways to reduce GHG emissions in farming. Another alternative to increase the terrestrial carbon sink is the planting of trees. Forests can contribute to offsetting GHG emissions in agriculture by capturing and storing atmospheric CO.

Carbon offsetting (or carbon credit) is generated when an activity prevents, reduces or removes greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere, compensating for emissions from elsewhere.

The purchase of carbon credits is regulated by the government. In Australia, the carbon market is regulated by the Clean Energy Regulator. The Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011, of 2014, states that the Australian carbon credit unit is personally owned and is generally transferable. For this, the offset project must be carried out in Australia and follow the methodology determined by the Act.

Thus, beef production offsets gas emissions through carbon storage in soils and vegetation. Soils are the second-largest carbon reservoir in the world and have great potential to mitigate the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide equivalent (CO-eq) concentration.

Time is an important variable when calculating a farm’s carbon balance. The highest rates of carbon sequestration in eucalyptus trees in south-eastern Australia, for example, occur approximately 20-25 years after the tree was planted (depending on the species of tree and the environment). A study developed by Doran-Browne et al. (2018) showed positive carbon rates after 25 years when 20% of the sheep and cattle farms analysed were covered with trees.


Doran-Browne, N., Wootton, M., Taylor, C., & Eckard, R. (2018). Offsets required to reduce the carbon balance of sheep and beef farms through carbon sequestration in trees and soils. Animal Production Science. 58, 1648–1655.

Torres, C. M.M. E., Kohmann, M. M., Fraisse, & C. W. (2015). Quantification of greenhouse gas emissions for carbon neutral farming in the Southeastern USA. Agricultural Systems. 137, 64–75.

Sustainability Steering Group. (2020). Australian Beef Sustainability ANNUAL UPDATE. Australian Beef Sustainability Framework. Access: https://www.sustainableaustralianbeef.com.au/annual-update

RMAC. (n.d.). Climate Proofing Australia. Access: https://rmac.com.au/climate-proofing-australia/

MLA. (n.d.). Industry GHG emissions avoidance. Access: https://www.mla.com.au/research-and-development/Environment-sustainability/carbon-neutral-2030-rd/industry-ghg-emissions-avoidance/#

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