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Alignment with SDGs
J. M. Tricarico, Innovation Center for US Dairy
Enteric methane is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions from beef and dairy production systems. A collaborative program was developed to align resources and fund projects to identify and develop new practices and technologies, or validate existing practices and technologies, that enable the sustainable decrease in enteric methane emissions from cattle. The Greener Cattle Initiative program operates as a research consortium of 10 organizations with closed participation and a flat governance collaboration model. Founding Participants include ADM, the Council for Dairy Cattle Breeding (CDCB), Elanco, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), Genus PLC, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the National Dairy Herd Information Association, Nestlé and the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre (NZAGRC).
JBS USA joined the Greener Cattle Initiative later as a steering committee participant and its tenth member. A request for applications was developed and announced on May 18th, 2022, to award grants on projects addressing one or more of the following: cattle nutrition, cattle genetics and selective breeding, rumen microbiome, and sensing and data technology for enteric methane measurement. The request for applications is facilitated by FFAR and will award up to $4.76 million dollars in research grant funding to 3-year projects that will contribute to advancing the voluntary greenhouse gas reduction goals established by both the United States and global dairy sectors. Research findings will be communicated broadly to create shared knowledge on enteric methane mitigation after a waiting period for exclusive access to founding participants.
Mitigation of enteric methane emissions is a major focus of farmer-led voluntary effort
Enteric methane is the single largest source of direct greenhouse gas emissions in the beef and dairy sectors. Methane is emitted on farms through two primary sources: manure degradation and enteric fermentation. Enteric fermentation is part of the normal digestive process in ruminants, with methane emissions primarily resulting from animals belching or exhaling. While several efforts to advance the sustainability of livestock production are currently underway, few specifically address enteric methane emissions. Mitigation of enteric methane emissions is a major focus of farmer-led voluntary efforts by the dairy sector in the United States to meet environmental stewardship goals announced publicly by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in the “U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment”. The “Pathways to Dairy Net Zero” initiative was created by the Global Dairy Platform to accelerate climate change action throughout the global dairy sector.
Several initiatives support this plan
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) and the Dairy Research Institute (DRI) jointly developed the Greener Cattle Initiative as a pre-competitive consortium to support collaborative research on enteric methane mitigation from ruminants . The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, created by the U.S. Congress to complement the work of the United States Department of Agriculture. The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research builds unique public-private partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges.
The Dairy Research Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization affiliated with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, created to strengthen access to and investment in the technical research required to drive innovation and demand for dairy products and ingredients domestically and abroad. Both FFAR and DRI agreed to identify additional organizations from the food and agriculture industry, commodity groups, and non-profits that share similar scientific and educational objectives for enteric methane mitigation and were willing to contribute financially to join the initiative. A steering committee was formed once the 10 consortium participants were identified and the initiative was announced.
The steering committee first had to align on research priorities (Figure 1). Identifying and aligning on an approach to develop a request for applications followed. Raising awareness about the initiative’s existence and goals through presentations at conferences and printed materials was necessary to increase the number of applications leading to the request for applications announcement on May 18th, 2022.
The greener cattle initiative was created in 2021
A group of 10 participating organizations comprise the Greener Cattle Initiative steering committee. This steering committee determines the scientific scope, the strategic direction, and the project review and approval process. Each organization has one seat on the steering committee and holds a single vote. All decisions affecting requests for proposals, projects awarded, or major decisions relative to the initiative’s operations are made by majority vote. Both FFAR and DRI function as final arbiters when the decision-making process does not result in a clear outcome. The program director is an individual hired by DRI to manage day-to-day operations of the initiative according to the direction set by the steering committee. FFAR acts as disbursement facilitator for all project funds to grantees leveraging the infrastructure and processes it already has developed for this purpose. The creation of the Greener Cattle Initiative was officially announced on November 8th, 2021, and the request for applications was announced six months later on May 18th, 2022.
A vehicle to share knowledge and accelerate scalable and commercially feasible technologies to mitigate methane emissions
The Greener Cattle Initiative brings together stakeholders from across the dairy and beef value chains to leverage investments in the research and development of practices and technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions. This initiative is informed by producers and animal health, genetic, feed and nutrition research organizations and companies. The Greener Cattle Initiative serves as a vehicle for multiple stakeholders to share knowledge and accelerate the development of scalable and commercially feasible technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions and enable the production of sustainable beef and dairy.
- Singh, H. & Creamer, L.K. Aggregation & dissociation of milk protein complexes in heated reconstituted skim milks. J. Food Sci. 56:238-246 (1991).
- Tricarico J.M., Y. de Haas, A.N. Hristov, E. Kebreab, T. Kurt, F. Mitloehner, & D. Pitta. 2022. Symposium review: Development of a funding program to support research on enteric methane mitigation from ruminants. J. Dairy Sci. in press: https://doi.org/10.3168/jds.2021-21397