Hybu Cig Cymru – Meat Promotion Wales (HCC) has announced a new pilot initiative aimed at enhancing the profitability and sustainability of the Welsh beef industry. The project, titled 'Decarbonising PGI Welsh Beef,' will evaluate the effects of adjusting the finishing age of beef cattle on economic returns and greenhouse gas emissions.

Led by HCC, the project is set to recruit 50 farmers, with 25 each from Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire. Supported by the ARFOR Challenge Fund, participants stand to benefit from complimentary carbon audits and financial assessments, potentially leading to increased farm profitability.

The ARFOR Challenge Fund, designed to strengthen the economic and linguistic ties in north and west Wales, supports innovative solutions to community challenges in Anglesey, Gwynedd, Ceredigion, and Carmarthenshire.

The Scottish Farmer: HCC's policy development lead Russ ThomasHCC's policy development lead Russ Thomas

HCC’s Policy Development Lead, Russ Thomas said: “We were pleased that our bid for this grant was successful and very much look forward to working with beef farmers to develop the efficiency of their businesses whilst also measuring the potential impact on the environment.

“As the red meat sector comes under growing pressure to reduce carbon and methane emissions, it is important that the sector in Wales considers how its farmers are operating and managing their farming practices, both economically and environmentally.

“This project will use historic and current market intelligence, along with individual farm performance data. It will focus on the factors that influence behavioural change to promote and encourage beef finishing within a reduced rearing period, through evidencing economic efficiency whilst mitigating methane emissions.”

By working with a group of 50 farmers, the work will generate information and results to inform and benefit the wider industry across Wales. These include increased Welsh prime beef output with reduced stocking density and emissions, brand improvement for PGI Welsh Beef with evidenced sustainability, and improved confidence in the beef sector for consumers.

The work will support the Welsh language and the farming sector – two important elements that are intrinsically linked and are the backbone of rural Wales.

Sara Davies, Innovation and Business Growth Projects Manager at Menter a Busnes said: “The aim of the ARFOR Challenge Fund is to secure innovative solutions to the challenges that exist across ARFOR, focusing on strengthening the relationship between the economy and the Welsh language.

"The fund encourages organisations to collaborate trans-border and to use the Welsh language to stimulate economic growth, which in turn will lead to benefits for the wider community.

"We look forward to seeing how the wide range of schemes across the four counties develop over the coming months."

Russ added: “The PGI Welsh Beef sector continues to make a sustainable, positive and responsible contribution to the challenge of worldwide food security. Initiatives such as this highlight the commitment of the industry to do all it can to mitigate climate change in every way it can."