THE fact Australia's red meat industry has been on the job of reducing greenhouse gas emissions for longer than most other industries means it is in the very solid position now of being able to ensure productivity benefits are built into any moves it makes in the space.
This was one of messages that came through from Meat & Livestock Australia managing director Jason Strong at the organsation's big end-of-year Updates forum.
Mr Strong said Australia's beef, sheep meat and goat producers should be recognised as the gold standard - industries able to be profitable and productive at the same time as they more positively manage their impact with the environment.
In 2017, the bold ambition for the red meat industry to be carbon neutral by 2030 - a strategy that has been given the working title CN30 - was announced at a similar end-of-year MLA event.
The driver behind it was a CSIRO report which said it was definitely possibly for the sector to achieve that goal.
Since then, the investment in science and research to deliver methane emission reduction technologies has run at full steam. So too the adoption of carbon storage management on-farm and the investment in people to foster the know-how of operating in climate science alongside red meat value chains. And work enabling measurement, reporting and verification, so that this trailblazing achievement can be communicated and monitored over time, has been extensive.
"We've been on this journey for five years and when you look at where we sit against other industries, not only are we one of the smallest emitters but we are one of the only ones that has made the progress we have in the past 20 years," Mr Strong told the hundreds of producers at the Updates forum, held in Toowoomba, Queensland.
He called out the fact that, since the baseline year of 2005, the industry had reduced net emissions by more than half, largely through a focus on improving productivity and vegetation management practices.
When MLA started talking CN30 in 2017, it was considered one of agriculture's most ambitious goals - both within the livestock sector and further afield.
It's clear now just how ahead of the game the plan was.
"Today, carbon neutral is a very topical space and we hear so much about it from a policy point of view and broadly in the community," Mr Strong said.
"Because we've been at it for longer than most other industries, we are able to be proactive in what we look at to help us reduce our emissions and impact and make sure everything we do, most importantly, drives productivity.
"We are more advanced than any other industry in how we do that."
FMD and lumpy skin
Mr Strong also addressed the impact the threat of the exotic animal diseases foot and mouth and lumpy skin disease has had this year.
He described the whole-of-industry work to ensure Australia was as protected as possible as the "greatest collaboration across our supply chains I've seen in all my time in this industry."
"The main reason we don't have these diseases is that our biosecurity systems are very good and they work," he said.
"The likelihood of incursions are not high. If we think about it the other way around, we have a 72 per cent chance that we won't get LSD and an 88pc chance we won't see FMD.
"We are also very well prepared to respond if there is an incursion. We have been for a long time but the last eight months have refreshed that - the industry has invested in a lot of areas to strengthen our position."