Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Further action to cut methane emissions from livestock [October 2023]

The press release issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 26 October 2023.

Defra has committed to working with industry to reduce methane emissions in livestock through the use of methane-suppressing feed products.

Following a call for evidence run jointly with the Devolved Governments to better understand the opportunities and challenges associated with products, Defra has confirmed it will work closely with industry and farmers to encourage their widespread adoption in England. The move delivers on the commitment in the Environmental Improvement Plan to explore innovative ways to reduce agricultural emissions.

With these innovative methane-suppressing feed products expected to enter the market from 2025, Defra’s summary of responses lays out plans which could, for instance, include guidance, advice and support through schemes such as the Farming Innovation Programme, Animal Health and Welfare Pathway, Environmental Land Management schemes, or the introduction of a tailor-made programme.

The summary of responses has been developed jointly with the devolved administrations and builds on wider UK action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions – including through the Net Zero Growth Plan.

Defra’s ultimate objective is to establish a mature market, encourage uptake and mandate the use of these products in appropriate cattle systems across England, as soon as feasibly possible and no later than 2030.

Farming Minister Mark Spencer said:

We are fully committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by 2050 and it is vital that we continue to explore ways to assist farmers in sustainable food production while also further reducing emissions from agriculture.

We will continue to work closely with industry to develop a mature market and mandate the use of safe and effective methane suppressing feed products in suitable cattle systems in England as soon as feasible.

These plans align with the government’s response also published today to the 2023 Climate Change Committee Progress Report which recommended the mandatory addition of methane-inhibiting additives to feed products for UK beef and dairy systems.

The agricultural sector in the UK accounted for 10% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, with methane emissions contributing substantially to this figure.

Ruminant livestock, particularly cows and sheep, are identified as the primary drivers of greenhouse gas emissions in the agricultural sector. However, research has provided promising evidence that feed products with methane-inhibiting properties can significantly reduce these emissions, particularly in the case of confined cattle.

The publication of the summary of responses has been delivered in close collaboration with the Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.