Dairy cows

Cows feed at a dairy near Kuna, Idaho. New research will focus on reducing enteric production of methane.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy have formed a consortium to fund research into ways to mitigate enteric methane emissions from beef and dairy cattle.

The Greener Cattle Initiative will award approximately $5 million over the next five years to fund research to reduce enteric emissions in cattle, FFAR said in a press release.

The initiative was announced at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

Enteric methane is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the beef and dairy sectors, representing 2.5% of total U.S. greenhouse gases. Methane is emitted on farms through two primary sources — manure degradation and enteric fermentation.

While several efforts to advance the sustainability of livestock production are underway, few specifically address enteric methane emissions, despite the potential to improve animal productivity and move the dairy and beef sectors toward net zero emissions, the groups said.

“Although mitigation of enteric methane from ruminants is not a novel field of research, many challenges remain to identify, develop and validate effective mitigation options that will also meet farmer and broad socioeconomic needs,” said Juan Tricarico, vice president for sustainability research at the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy.

The 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 unique combination of industry expertise, resources and commitment to innovative research creates a substantial opportunity to reduce enteric methane emissions,” said Tim Kurt, scientific program director at FFAR.

The Greener Cattle Initiative supports research in the following areas:

• Feed additives and supplements that inhibit enteric methane emissions.

• Feed ingredients that alter metabolic pathways to reduce enteric 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.

FFAR is matching industry contributions up to $2.5 million. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is providing cash and program management contributions valued at approximately $1.2 million.

Additional founding participants include ADM, Elanco, Nestle, Genus PLC, Council on Dairy Cattle Breeding, National Dairy Herd Information Association and the New Zealand Greenhouse Gas Research Center.

In addition to supporting program development, each founding participant committed $200,000.

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