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Improving carbon footprint reporting

Since 2013, nearly 300,000 carbon footprints have been generated for Irish beef and dairy farm members. To calculate the carbon footprint, Bord Bia uses a carbon footprint model developed by Teagasc and accredited by the Carbon Trust. Carbon foot printing has been hugely significant in supporting the marketing and promotion of Irish beef and dairy around the world.

In recent years, the recommended international methodologies for quantifying greenhouse gas emissions at a macro level have been refined. Last year, the dairy carbon footprint was updated to reflect the most recent recommended methodologies. The same model update is currently being applied to the beef carbon footprint in cooperation with ICBF and Teagasc.

The update to the model will mean that beef farmers audited using the new model from next year will see a change in their carbon footprint (as reported in their Farmer Feedback Report). Over 300,000 historical beef carbon footprint calculations have been re-run against the new model. Preliminary results indicate the average beef carbon footprint will reduce by 12% from 10.45 to 9.2 kg CO2 / kilogram (kg) of live weight gain (LWG). It is important to note that this decrease reflects the new model, rather than changes at farm-level, and does not impact national agri-emissions carbon reduction targets.

In order to compare like with like, each farms’ carbon footprint from their previous audit will also be adjusted to the new model. Therefore, a farmer can note improvements to their carbon footprint by the percentage change from the previous audit. To view your carbon footprint on your farmer feedback report, please log on to and enter your herd number and PIN. (There is a ‘forget PIN’ option, which texts your PIN to the mobile number you have provided to Bord Bia. For further queries contact the Bord Bia Helpdesk on 01 5240410.)

Annual carbon footprints

To calculate a farm’s carbon footprint Bord Bia requires four sources of data, outlined below. Bord Bia has data sharing and transfer arrangements in place with industry stakeholders to reduce the burden of data collection on the farmer:

  1. Animal Identification and Movements Database from the DAFM.
  2. Daily liveweight gain information from ICBF (for beef only);
  3. Milk production data from dairy processors (dairy only);
  4. The sustainability survey, which farmers must complete themselves before their audit date.

As the audit cycle is every 18 months, farmers only complete the sustainability survey once every 18 months. As a result, a farm’s carbon footprint can only be updated as part of this cycle. From next year, farmers will have the option of completing their sustainability survey every 12 months, to receive an annual carbon footprint. This will be optional for all beef and dairy members, allowing farmers to track their progress on an annual basis. Farmers opting for 12 month intervals can choose any date throughout the year to complete their sustainability survey, while farmers who remain in the 18 month cycle must complete before their audit.