Cows and carbon: could sustainable beef farming help solve the climate crisis?

In our current debate on the impact of our eating habits on the planet, beef is getting a pretty bad rap. 

From the water required to raise livestock, the land degradation and biodiversity loss caused by overgrazing and deforestation to the direct emissions from the sector and chemical pollution from fertilisers. The list of environmental impacts caused by some farmers in the beef and livestock industry is long. 

But to Tasmanian farmers Sam and Steph Trethewey the cows are not really the issue. To them, and a growing number of regenerative agriculturalists, the problems we have come to associate with meat consumption are the result of industrial agricultural practices, not the meat and dairy producing animals themselves. 

Or as Steph puts it: “It’s not about the cow, but the how.”

Regenerative farmers Sam and Steph Trethewey
Regenerative farmers Sam and Steph Trethewey.

In 2019, Sam and Steph gave up their corporate careers in Melbourne and bought some land near Deloraine in Central North Tasmania to found the Tasmanian Agricultural Company (Tas Ag Co). The pair is now on a mission to prove that it’s not only possible to farm beef sustainably, but also to make beef farming part of the solution to fight the climate crisis.