Responding to calls to reduce the impact of farming on the environment is a key issue for New Zealand farmers. With sheep and beef farming, good environmental stewardship and profitable farming go hand in hand.

Our farmers pride themselves on being guardians of the land, investing in improvements for generations to come. 

Beef + Lamb New Zealand invests farmer levies in a range of collaborative projects to develop and promote sustainable farming. We also contribute to policy discussions to support profits for farmers while addressing environmental issues.

Life cycle analysis

Tackling climate change

Sustainable water management

Land & Environment Planning Toolkit

Life cycle analysis

The sheep and beef industry is analysing the carbon footprints of New Zealand beef and lamb throughout their production life cycles, for different export markets.

The life cycle analysis for New Zealand lamb shows our exported lamb’s carbon footprint compares favourably with overseas lamb – good news for consumers in our export markets who are concerned about food miles. 

Read the findings of the carbon footprint study for exported New Zealand lamb on the 
Meat Industry Association website.  

Tackling climate change

Reducing emissions through productivity gains

From 1990 to 2008, greenhouse gas emissions from the combined sheep and beef sector decreased 14% through productivity gains. Over the same period, there was a reduction of 3.12 million tonnes of carbon equivalent a year, while total meat and fibre production increased 15%.

Compared to 1990, New Zealand sheep farms produced slightly more lamb meat by weight from a 43% smaller national flock. Researchers estimate this productivity improvement has reduced the carbon footprint of New Zealand lamb by more than 20% over that period.

Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium

We are part of the intensive search for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from grazing animals, through the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium (PGgRc).

The consortium’s goal is to develop practical mitigation measures for New Zealand farms. Farmers will benefit from increased productivity and lower costs.

Improving feed conversion efficiency, animal productivity and nitrogen management to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will also fulfil New Zealand’s international commitments to address climate change. 

Find out more on the PGgRc website

Emissions Trading Scheme

B+LNZ is involved in a broad range of on-farm and policy activities to reduce New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. Sheep and beef production is due to enter the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme in 2015 under the Climate Change (Agriculture Sector) Regulations 2010

We have consistently advocated for sheep and beef emissions to remain outside the scheme until effective mitigation technologies are available and competing producers face similar costs. 

Unless these conditions are met, we fear production will move to countries overseas where farming is less carbon efficient. This will lead to an overall increase in emissions and economic damage to New Zealand. 

Sustainable water management

We are part of the Land and Water Forum, which advises the Minister for the Environment on long-term strategies for New Zealand’s fresh water. 

This complements the commitments we made on behalf of sheep and beef farmers under the Primary Sector Water Partnership.

We are also in the process of funding research into the water footprint of beef and lamb production, to identify ways to be more efficient with water.

Find out more about the Land and Water Forum

Primary Sector Water Partnership annual report 2011 (PDF, 573KB)