Recent weeks have seen Europe’s beef industry arguing strongly that livestock production is at the heart of ‘regenerative agriculture’.

The claim is, very much, based on the assertion that livestock farmers are not being fully recognised for the key role they already play in maintaining the health and well-being of their grassland soils.

This was a matter discussed in detail at a recent meeting of the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS).

Beef industry participation

The backdrop to the event was the recent commitment expressed by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) platform – the parent body of ERBS – to put regenerative agriculture high up on its list of priorities.

To this end, the organisation has recently appointed Nick Betts to the position of Regenerative Agriculture Director.

Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive, Ian Stevenson is an ERBS board member. He said: “Nick Betts joined the recent meeting with ERBS and provided an update on SAI’s ongoing commitment to regenerative agriculture.

“The opportunity was taken by ERBS representatives to highlight the invaluable work that beef farmers are already carrying out in maintaining the health and vitality of their soils.

“Moreover, this continuing investment in soil health and nutrient management must be fully recognised at all points along the farming and food chain.

“Nick fully took on board the points that we made to the extent that ERBS will now have an active role in helping to shape SAI’s future global approach, where regenerative agriculture is concerned.

Livestock farmers

The LMC chief executive said that his priority in the run-up to the meeting was to ensure SAI awareness of the fact that so many livestock farmers are already living and breathing regenerative agriculture.

SAI platform is to formally launch its Regenerative Agriculture Programme in 2023. It has been designed to offer flexibility of application to fit the diversity of farms globally.

It will also enable value chains to communicate and report on regenerative outcomes through existing systems.

It is envisaged that regenerative agriculture can improve farmer livelihoods, allow farming to adapt to climate change, enhance resilient ecosystems, and enable agriculture to achieve environmental, social, and corporate governance goals.

Stevenson continued: “And the good news is that a lot of this work is already taking place on the ground. A case in point was confirmation that the roll-out of Northern Ireland’s Soil Nutrient Health Scheme will commence later in the autumn.

“This initiative constitutes the most comprehensive nutrient analysis of our local soils and estimates of carbon stocks in soils and above ground biomass ever undertaken.”