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Environmentally friendly breeding, spatial heterogeneity and effective carbon offset design in beef cattle

Boaitey, Albert, Goddard, Ellen, Mohapatra, Sandeep
Food policy 2019 v.84 pp. 35-45
agroecological zones, beef cattle, carbon markets, cow-calf operations, environmental factors, feed conversion, greenhouse gases, income, issues and policy, marker-assisted selection, models, pollution control, spatial variation, Alberta
This paper presents an assessment of emerging livestock-based greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation schemes that link the uptake of environmentally beneficial breeding practices to carbon offset schemes. Using the example of genomic selection for feed efficiency by cattle producers in Alberta Canada, we explored the potential effect of spatial heterogeneity on producer incentive to participate in these schemes. We model three representative cow-calf operations in three agroecological zones and incorporate region specific breeding, economic and environmental factors. Our results show that environmental and economic outcomes differ spatially, and that the additional revenue from the existing offset scheme is inadequate to incentivize producers in specific regions. The priority for policy makers is to implement a differential payment scheme that accounts for specific sources of spatial heterogeneity in environmental and economic tradeoffs.