ABP Food Group has today (Tuesday, November 22) announced an investment of £1.5 million in a sustainability programme open to beef and sheep farmers in Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

According to ABP Food Group, the new programme will support “350 of its farmer-suppliers and share wider learnings across the UK beef and sheep sectors”.

The new programme is called PRISM 2030 and aims to provide farmer participants with a support framework over 2-3 years to improve their carbon footprint and sustainability across the entirety of the farm.

It will include an assessment of carbon footprint, soil health, and water use, and will also support biodiversity creation and resource efficiency.

PRISM 2030 will be supported by Harper Adams University and The Andersons Centre in an effort to ensure farmers have access and feedback from the latest environmental innovations and methodologies.

A sustainability grant will also be available, alongside peer-to-peer learning and expert advice throughout.

Commenting on the rollout of the new programme, ABP’s technical and sustainability director, Dean Holroyd said: “British red meat production is amongst the most sustainable in the world, but we can and must do more because as an industry, we are well placed to be part of the climate solution.

“We want to build on this position of strength, and while PRISM will mean direct support for those in our supply base who qualify for the programme, all of the outcomes will be made available to the wider industry.

“In this way, it’s our hope that this initiative will play a part in helping beef and sheep farmers across the country to become the global leaders in sustainable meat production – with lower emissions, lower costs and improved productivity.”

ABP PRISM participants

Based in Kircubbin, Co. Down, beef farmer and ABP supplier Sam Chesney has decided to participate in the new programme.

“We have a duty as farmers to help dispel some of the myths about how beef is produced here in the UK,” he said.

“Farmers are a major part of the solution, as potential carbon mitigators, and the PRISM process will enable us to demonstrate and measure that potential.

“The green lands of the UK are second to none when it comes to supporting high animal welfare, boosting biodiversity and producing low-carbon beef, but British beef and lamb is too often broad-brushed with the rest of the world.

“Here at Cool Brae Farm, we are already engaging in carbon audits and although the results are very good, they don’t currently take in to account our grasslands or hedges.

“We hope through this process, we can demonstrate that with all measurements considered we are well on our way to being a net-zero operation.”

Another Co. Down-based sheep farmer, Crosby Cleland, is also participating in the programme.

He said: “I’ve found throughout my farming career that to be able to compare with others gives me a drive to make positive changes that will help both financially and in regards to climate.

“Gathering data is extremely important and is a key component of the PRISM project – we all need to know where we are performing well and badly, so we can identify improvements that can be made and drive the industry forward.

“We are constantly progressing, and this work will capture some of these efforts.”

The collaboration with Andersons is led by partner and senior research consultant Michael Haverty who, with his team, will focus on carbon assessments as well as other sustainability benchmarking.

Prof. Jude Capper leads the input from Harper Adams and will be indicating what areas each producer could be focusing on over the duration of the project to achieve most gains.