New Zealand’s largest red meat producer Silver Fern Farms this week celebrated the launch of its USDA-approved Net Carbon Zero by Nature 100% Grass-Fed Angus Beef at a New York City, attended by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
“It’s great to see NZ exporters like Silver Fern Farms bringing their own initiatives to sustainability and our regenerative future,” Prime Minister Ardern said at the event. “It’s a wonderful example of how Aotearoa New Zealand prides itself on preserving its land and sea for future generations.”
“Silver Fern Farms and their Net Carbon Zero Beef represents both NZ values but also our aspirations when it comes to climate change. Rather than this product being the exception, it will increasingly be the rule. It’s great to see Silver Fern Farms leading the charge in that regard.”
Silver Fern Farms Chief Executive Simon Limmer says closer partnerships between consumers and farmers through products like Net Carbon Zero beef hold the key to addressing our collective climate and environmental challenges.
“As New Zealand’s largest processor and marketer of red meat, we are in a unique position to build closer partnerships between the needs of discerning customers and our farmers in a way that incentivises nature-positive food production,” he says. “We see the transition to a low carbon economy as an important opportunity to create new forms of value for New Zealand and position our farmers as climate innovators.
“Taking care of our emissions is our own responsibility, no-one else’s,” says Limmer. “We are not outsourcing our emissions, rather we are recognising and incentivising our farmers for their efforts to create farm environments that are better able to capture carbon, increase biodiversity, and support nature positive food production.”
Beef made better
Limmer says, “As an exporter and marketer, we know that our pastoral farming system already has many of the attributes consumers are looking for. We are continuing to invest, innovate and support those working the land to ensure our farms continue to be seen as the best in the world.”
With exports to 60 countries and supplying the U.S. market with its grass-fed product for four decades, Silver Fern Farms’ Net Carbon Zero by Nature Angus Beef products are a further step along its journey towards being climate positive and regenerative by 2030.
Limmer says that U.S. consumers and its own New Zealand cooperative farmers are more conscious than ever of the environment in which their food is raised. “In New Zealand we have a deep connection to nature and caring for the environment is part of who we are. With our Net Carbon Zero range we want to show we can produce great tasting, nutrient dense red meat in way that is better for the planet.”
Silver Fern Farms Net Carbon Zero by Nature Angus Beef has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and certified by New Zealand’s premier agricultural science institution Ag Research and New Zealand’s most trusted environmental verification body, Toitū Envirocare.
The key to Silver Fern’s zero carbon methodology is “insetting” – determining how much of the carbon produced is being absorbed by the local environment. Recognising that 96% of beef emissions occur on farm, in 2018 Silver Fern Farms started a program to map and measure the sequestration potential of farm vegetation. Satellite technology, aided by increasingly sophisticated AI software, has been used to measure on-farm vegetation to within 0.5 of a meter, enabling a calculation of each individual farm’s ability to sequester carbon. This may include regenerating native bush, woodlot forests, shelter belts, summer shade and winter animal shelter, erosion and riparian planting.
“Through our Net Carbon Zero programme we are connecting our hardworking farmers with customers who want to support them to plant, restore, and regenerate vegetation to increase the amount of carbon their farms can naturally remove from the atmosphere. That’s pretty exciting” says Limmer.