Environmental sustainability on beef farms is included in eight new priority areas identified for this year by the network project BovINE.

The network, across 10 EU member states, brings together beef farmers, farming organisations, advisors and researchers to collectively develop practical innovations that can be implemented on European beef farms.

Farmers across Europe, including in Ireland, have continued to engage with the network through national and international meetings to identify sustainable improvements for their enterprises.

The result of that engagement is the selection of eight new priority topics for BovINE to concentrate on during 2022; two topics for each of the project’s four thematic areas:

  • Socio-economic resilience;
  • Animal health and welfare;
  • Production efficiency and meat quality;
  • Environmental sustainability.

This year, BovINE will focus on fairer prices; alternative feedstuffs; animal health checks prior to purchase; improving meat quality; training for handlers to reduce stress on animals; and improving environmental sustainability and biodiversity.

Four technical working groups (TWG) have been established for each thematic area which will examine existing literature, policy recommendations and on-farm good practices to produce solutions for farmers.

“The TWGs will work to identify existing evidence and guidance on the new priority topics, and where possible arrange practical demonstrations on local beef farms to create ‘farm ready’ good practices,” Richard Lynch of Teagasc, the BovINE project manager, explained.

“Here in Ireland, we had a very good national network meeting hosted by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) and Teagasc,” Kevin Kinsella, the BovINE Irish network manager, said.

“Our beef farmers welcomed the opportunity to share their views and highlight their needs for information, guidance and good practices to support their journey towards sustainability.

“All beef farmers, their advisors, business and veterinary services are able to access the wide range and growing number of good practices and information already collated by the BovINE network via the BovINE Knowledge Hub,” Kinsella stated.

Another meeting of the BovINE network in Ireland is due to take place in autumn 2022.