FFAR led public-private partnership aiming to reduce methane emissions from cattle

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/PeopleImages
© GettyImages/PeopleImages

Related tags methane emissions FFAR Adm Greenhouse gases COP26

The US Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Innovation Center for US Dairy announced the Greener Cattle Initiative at COP26.

Methane emissions reduction was high on the agenda at the climate talks, with stakeholders suggesting that methane reductions are not only technically possible, but also essential for the agricultural industry to meet its sustainability targets. A number of initiatives related to the goal were launched and government pledges formalized at COP26.

Enteric methane is the single largest source of direct GHG emissions in the beef and dairy sectors. Methane is emitted on farms through two primary sources: manure degradation and enteric fermentation. The Greener Cattle Initiative (GCI) will see stakeholders from across the dairy and beef value chains collaborate to support research and development of practices and technologies that reduce such emissions. 

The program will award about $5m over the next five years to fund research that provides beef and cattle producers with solutions in this regard. FFAR is matching industry contributions up to at least $2.5m.

The Innovation Center for US Dairy is providing cash and program management contributions valued at approximately $1.2m. Additional founding participants comprise producers and animal health, genetic, feed and nutrition research organizations and companies and they are each committing $200K of funding to this program. They include ADM, the US Council for Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), Elanco, Genus PLC, the US National Dairy Herd Information Association, Nestlé and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).

Steering committee work

The various parties involved will also support program development.

“ADM will participate with the other organizations on a steering committee. We collectively play a role in developing the final research priorities, in the calls for proposals, in deciding which projects are funded and then in monitoring the progress of those funded projects over time,” ​Dan Griffis, investment director, ADM Ventures, told FeedNavigator.

The request for proposals should be released in spring 2022, and the funded projects will be announced thereafter, he said.

The GCI is looking to support research in the following areas:

  • Feed additives and supplements that inhibit enteric methane emissions
  • Feed ingredients that alter metabolic pathways to reduce enter methane emissions
  • Genetic selection of cattle that emit less methane
  • Increased understanding of microbiome composition and activity in cattle
  • Technologies such as sensors, robots and artificial intelligence to monitor enteric methane emissions or related physiological indicators
  • Socioeconomic analysis of enteric methane mitigation practices and technologies
  • Requests for proposals will be distributed globally to identify the most promising research that impacts commercial dairy and beef production.

There is a certain degree of flexibility in the kind of entity that can apply for the funding, said Griffis. But essentially it is about giving a leg up to early stage research, either in the lab or in the field.

“There are a number of ways to mitigate enteric methane emissions in cattle, various approaches with different mode of actions. ADM, itself, has done a fair amount of research on solutions and is developing some for its portfolio. From the perspective of ADM, we believe there are many more solutions to this problem than those that have been uncovered to date. The GCI is an opportunity to identify and make progress on those. We have only scratched the surface of [research in this space to date]."

Griffis said the credentials of the stakeholders involved in the initiative put it in good stead, and the project can leverage the work done to date by FFAR, which has form in building public-private partnerships to fund research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. 

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