Economics of greenhouse gas mitigation scenarios in beef production
Animal agriculture plays a vital role in the provision of food for the world population; however, in the wake of global warming and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the industry has been under scrutiny as one of the net emitters causing global warming. The same scrutiny applies to beef production in western Canada. The objective of this study is to evaluate the economic impact of GHG mitigation practices (GHGMP) for beef operations, and in the process identify economic and environmental sustainable scenarios. This study was an extension to a study by Beauchemin et al (2011) who studied the mitigation of GHG emissions from beef production in western Canada A beef simulation model was developed to measure the impacts of adopting GHGMPs on the profitability of a mixed farm in Vulcan County, Southern Alberta. Feed for the herd was produced on the farm, and calves were born and finished on the farm. Whole farm gross margin was used as a profitability measure of the farm over a period of 9 years, which is a full beef production cycle. Eleven GHGMPs were examined and compared to the baseline scenario. These scenarios were adopted from Beauchemin et al (2011), and included dietary modifications (change in use of forages, use of canola seed, and corn distillers grains, and improvement in quality of forage), and improvement in animal husbandry (increased weaning rates, and increased longevity of breeding stock). Simulation results showed a discounted whole farm gross margin of $11.38 per acre for the baseline scenario. Feed costs accounted for 47.1 percent of total costs of beef production. The change in whole farm gross margin per acre from implementation of different GHGMPs ranged from an increase of 4 percent to a decrease of 5 percent. Six scenarios were identified as ‘win-win’ scenarios as they improved both environment and economics of the farm. The profit of these scenarios ranged from $238.11 to $30.31 per tonne of GHG reductions expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent). The loss from the other scenarios capable of reducing GHG emissions range from $92.06 to $582.46 per tonne GHG reduced. Based on these results, it was concluded that western Canadian beef producers can adopt sustainable GHGMPs without substantial changing the structure of their operations. Scenarios that improved both the environment and the economics of the farm were: Scenario 7: use of corn distillers dried grain (CDDG) in finishing ration; Scenario 4: use of canola seed in finishing ration; Scenario 8: use of CDDG in breeding stock ration; Scenario 10: increased calve weaning rate (85% to 90%); Scenario 5: use of canola seed in breeding stock ration; and Scenario 9 : improved hay for breeding stock.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
DepartmentBioresource Policy, Business and Economics
SupervisorKulshreshtha, Suren N.
CommitteeRoy, Robert; Schoney, Richard D.
Copyright DateSeptember 2014
Beef production, greenhouse gas mitigation, whole farm economics.