Australia and Thailand, both renowned for their agricultural prowess, are joining hands to tackle the challenges faced by the livestock sector, which significantly impact its sustainability. With a shared commitment to building a sustainable future, this seminar aims to foster knowledge exchange and collaboration between the two nations.
Australia has implemented many actions towards the sustainability of the environment, livestock, people and businesses. As a partner with Thailand in promoting sustainable agriculture, the Australian Embassy Bangkok and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) have presented a seminar ‘Australian Beef Sustainability: Knowledge and Experience for Thailand Beef Sector’ to share the concrete actions taken by the Australian red meat industry, both in terms of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework and long-term ambition towards carbon neutrality by 2030.
The seminar featured distinguished guests from the Thailand Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives & the Ministry of National Resources and Environment as well as academics, commercial parties, and cooperatives.
At the event, MLA presented on the Australian industry’s policies for sustainable beef production including actions, challenges and indicators of progress.
Although sustainability can be interpreted and implemented in many ways, some experiences shared at this event are aimed at providing audiences with seeds for thoughts which may be applicable for Thailand whereby both countries can continue learning and working together to build sustainable agriculture sector.
Jacob Betros, Beef Sustainability Manager, MLA, highlighted the industry's achievements and its ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030, known as CN30, through the presentation on the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (ABSF), an industry-led initiative designed to track the sustainability performance of the Australian beef industry utilising evidence-based metrics to recognise success, empowering the industry to continually improve and demonstrate its values to customers, investors, and stakeholders.
“In 2017, the Australian red meat industry set an ambitious target to be carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30). The CN30 target sends a clear signal to government, global markets and consumers that the livestock industry is proactively addressing emissions and taking action to improve long-term productivity. By taking action, the red meat industry pre-empts current and future market expectations regarding environmental credentials which will allow red meat producers to stamp their mark in a competitive global protein market. CN30’s suite of innovation will also deliver win-win benefits for producers, including productivity gains and profit drivers through the carbon market or premium supply chains,” said Jacob Betros.
In addition, a real-world perspective on sustainability activities in Australia from Jenny O'Sullivan, a cattle and sheep farmer from Victoria, was also shared by the highlight of her experiences in producing healthy, nutritious food while simultaneously improving the environment and creating livelihoods. Jenny's family has been involved in extensive environmental and carbon projects on their farm over the past 30 years, making her a valuable member of the ABSF Sustainability Steering Group.
Spencer Whitaker, Market Development Manager for the Asia-Pacific region, MLA, presented an overview of Australian beef consumption in Thailand. “As Australia's 8th largest beef export market by volume, Thailand has witnessed rapid demand growth for quality red meat in recent years, despite pandemic-related disruptions. Import demand has been increasing since 2017, driven by a growing population of young, affluent consumers, plus a large and well established tourism service sector. Historically, Australia has been Thailand’s largest beef and sheepmeat import supplier, with around a third of total value being chilled product. The complete removal of tariffs and quotas since January 2020 under both the Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) and the ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) has strengthened red meat trade and will support growth into the future.”
Dr. Angela Macdonald, Australia's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand, emphasised the significance of sustainable agriculture for both nations, and highlighted the potential for further collaboration. Dr Macdonald said agriculture was a significant sector for both countries, including for its contribution to jobs and exports. There are similarities including tropical and sub-tropical climates, that made Australia and Thailand natural partners in tackling sustainability in agriculture. “Sustainable agriculture is not a one-size-fits-all solution and I encourage industry groups to continue contributing to finding sustainable practices,” stressed Dr. Macdonald.
Amber Parr, Agriculture Counsellor, highlighted Australia's unique approach to agricultural sustainability. She said farmers were at the forefront of making agriculture more sustainable, and consumers would also make decisions that would drive long-term sustainability. Australia's approach to sustainability involves a partnership between government and industry through 15 industry-specific Rural Research and Development Corporations. Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) is a significant partner in research, education, and capacity building, and I am pleased experts from MLA could be here today to share their knowledge with Thai counterparts. At the international level, Australia recognises the importance of tailored approaches to sustainable agriculture, and looks forward to further collaboration with Thailand and other Southeast Asian partners both bilaterally and in international fora.