This weekend, at the 26th annual UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced the Greener Cattle Initiative, an industry-oriented consortium that will award approximately $5 million over the next five years to fund research that provides beef and cattle producers with solutions for enteric methane emission mitigation to curb the escalating climate crisis.
Enteric methane is the single largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions in the beef and dairy sectors. Methane is emitted on farms through two primary sources: manure degradation and enteric fermentation. Enteric fermentation is part of the normal digestive process in ruminants, with methane emissions primarily resulting from animals belching or exhaling. While several efforts to advance the sustainability of livestock production are currently underway, few specifically address enteric methane emissions – despite the potential to improve animal productivity and move the dairy and beef sectors toward net zero emissions.
“Although mitigation of enteric methane from ruminants is not a novel field of research, many challenges remain to identify, develop and validate effective mitigation options that will also meet farmer and broad socioeconomic needs,” said Dr. Juan Tricarico, vice president for sustainability research at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.
The Greener Cattle Initiative brings together stakeholders from across the dairy and beef value chains to leverage investments in the research and development of practices and technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions. This initiative is informed by producers and animal health, genetic, feed and nutrition research organizations and companies. The Greener Cattle Initiative serves as a vehicle for multiple stakeholders to share knowledge and accelerate the development of scalable and commercially feasible technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions and enable the production of sustainable beef and dairy.
The Greener Cattle Initiative supports research in the following areas:
- Feed additives and supplements that inhibit enteric methane emissions
- Feed ingredients that alter metabolic pathways to reduce enteric methane emissions
- Genetic selection of cattle that emit less methane
- Increased understanding of microbiome composition and activity in cattle
- Technologies such as sensors, robots and artificial intelligence to monitor enteric methane emissions or related physiological indicators
- Socioeconomic analysis of enteric methane mitigation practices and technologies
Requests for proposals will be distributed globally to identify the most promising research that impacts commercial dairy and beef production.
FFAR is matching industry contributions up to at least $2.5 million. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is providing cash and program management contributions valued at approximately $1.2 million. Additional Founding Participants include ADM, the Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), Elanco, Genus PLC, the National Dairy Herd Information Association, Nestlé and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC). In addition to supporting program development, each Founding Participant committed $200,000 in funding to this program.
Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.
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