Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive Ian Stevenson has confirmed that the issue of farm sustainability is now a priority for beef and sheep farmers in Northern Ireland.

“This was very evident from the conversations held on our Balmoral Show stand over the past couple of days.

“Farmers want to know what all of this means for them as they look to the future. But, importantly, they are addressing these issues in a very positive frame of mind.

“Our Balmoral stand communicated the very positive climate change related messages already associated with beef and sheep production.

“But more than this, I was very encouraged by the messaging coming from other organisations attending Balmoral Show this week,” Stevenson told Agriland.

He said that leading representatives from McDonald’s have attended this year’s Balmoral Show and made it clear that they want to continue offering beef and lamb options to consumers.

“However, they also recognise that the way in which red meat is produced will have to be tweaked in line with the evolving sustainability agenda,” Stevenson continued.

Farm sustainability

This week’s Balmoral Show also marked the launch of Northern Ireland’s new carbon steering group.

The LMC will be centrally involved in the work carried out by the new body.

The steering group is working in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) to create a programme which will help all farm businesses understand where they are on their carbon journeys.

As part of this, and to inform the work programme with DAERA, the body intends to test the concept of whole farm data collection with 100 farms in the next few weeks.

Information required to test this concept will be collected following a beef and lamb Farm Quality Assurance Scheme (FQAS) inspection – and during the same farm visit.

This work is taking place against the backdrop of confirmation that DAERA will publish its first Climate Action Plan later this year.

“Data collected will be collected from businesses operating across all the farming sectors,” Stevenson said.

“This has been made possible by virtue of the fact that cattle and sheep are maintained on the vast majority of farms in Northern Ireland.

“A number of the farmers who have already received their information packs called to the LMC stand at Balmoral. All were more than happy to get on board with the project.”