USDA -- Modern Solutions for Environmental Challenges

This 6-minute video looks at some of the ways USDA is helping farmers, ranchers and forest landowners mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Date: June 05 2013

Author: usda
Views: 2617


Back to GHG CIG list

Bovine Innovative Greenhouse Gas Solution


Project Timeline: August 2011 - July 2014

The BIGGS pilot project will adapt and test GHG methodologies that generate voluntary carbon offsets and demonstrate decreased carbon intensity of beef and milk produced in the beef and dairy sectors. The protocols are currently in the process of being adapted for the U.S. production systems.

The BIGGS project intends to carry out the following:

1. Design scalable approaches for large GHG reduction tonnage

  • Adapt five Alberta, Canada Government-approved protocols for reducing enteric methane and manure-based emissions, to the unique scientific and production system characteristics of the U.S. beef, dairy and carbon supply chains
  • Align Canadian and U.S. bovine GHG reducing practices and carbon quantification methods
  • Create carbon market linkages between domestic bovine voluntary carbon market standards (e.g. American Carbon Registry and the Climate Action Reserve)

2. Develop best practices/systems associated with voluntary bovine GHG offsets

  • Streamline complex data management requirements
  • Create diverse systems producers can use to quantify voluntary offsets
  • Monetize and serialize verifiable carbon offsets

3. Close knowledge gaps associated with bovine-targeted voluntary GHG offsets

  • Increase awareness and understanding of supply chain stakeholders through firsthand experience with voluntary offsets associated with their operations
  • Assess the costs, benefits and potential production efficiency gains realized by feedyard and dairy operations when implementing the GHG-reducing practices

The project’s goal is to work with a total of 25,000 head of dairy cattle and 500,000 head of beef cattle.

Project Summary

The purpose of Bovine Innovative Greenhouse Gas Solutions (BIGGS) Pilot Project is to enable beef and dairy producers to create and sell voluntary carbon offsets to buyers. Our intention is for stakeholders in the U.S. beef and dairy supply chain to successfully participate in a voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) offset program that is science-based and meets their triple bottom-line needs and concerns.

Successes & Challenges

Key successes to date:

  1. Initial outreach with the potential cooperators to gain insights into their needs and concerns that must be addressed in order for them to consider participation. This has been a success and challenge at the same time because it helped us focus the Protocol Scientific Adaptation Team (PSAT) on adapting the protocols to address those concerns and needs while maintaining the rigor necessary to produce quality offsets. Not an easy balance.
  2. (PSAT) consensus that the quantification methodologies applied in the Alberta protocols are valid, and need some editing to account for U.S. conditions.  PSAT’s ability to identify key changes needed to adapt the Alberta protocols to U.S. conditions and increase the likelihood of success through simplification and the creation and application of a U.S. performance baseline for one of the feedlot protocols.
  3. The consolidation of three Alberta feedlot protocols into one Beef Feedlot Carbon Intensity protocol makes the protocol more intuitive and when completed, will enable feedlots to be more flexible in implementation and identify the unique practices they have adopted to reduce their carbon footprint per pound of hot carcass weight.

Key challenges to date:

  1. The pioneering work done in Alberta developed protocols with intensive data requirements that set complex expectations for data access to establish the three year project baselines.
  2. The Protocol Scientific Adaptation Team was challenged when they went looking for a data set to establish the performance baseline. They were required to identify access and aggregate several data sets to accommodate our needs. The owners of more than one private data set that would have been able to play a significant role declined our request for access and use.
  3. The Beef Days on Feed protocol in Alberta has proven to be especially challenging due to market conditions favoring heavier market weights. Because of the way the protocol is written, when data has been harvested, in Canada, the protocols have not yielded carbon. This is one of the key factors that lead us to adapt this protocol to beef carbon intensity as a function of hot carcass weight yield.
  4. The main challenge we faced in the dairy protocols has been adapting them away from being focused on timing of manure basin emptying practices. We found that while this holds significant potential in Canada it has very limited potential in The U.S. This is why the PSAT is adapting it to focus on milk carbon intensity based on fat and protein corrected milk as the functional unit.

Project Partners

  • Matt SuttonSuVermeulenVermeulen
    Unison Resource, LLC
  • Garth Boyd , Ph.D., PAS
    Global Sustainable Solutions
  • Karen Haugen-Kozyra, M.Sc., P.Ag
    KHK Consulting Ltd.
  • San Francisco Carbon Collaborative
  • EcoAnalytics
  • Dr. Ermias Kebreab
    University of California?Davis
  • Dr. Shawn Archibeque
    Colorado State University
  • Dr. John Basarab
    Alberta Agriculture
  • Dr. Karen Beauchemin
    Agriculture and AgriFood Canada
  • Dr. Jude Capper
    Washington State University
  • Dr. Andy Cole
    USDA Bushland, TX
  • Dr. Gustavo Cruz
    University of California?Davis
  • Dr. J. Fadel
    University of California?Davis
  • Dr. Jim France
    University of Guelph
  • Dr. Kris Johnson
    Washington State University
  • Dr. Tim McAllister
    Agriculture and AgriFood Canada
  • Dr. Stephen Ogle
    Colorado State University
  • Dr. Erasmus Okine
    University of Alberta
  • Dr. Jim Oltjen
    University of California?Davis
  • Dr. Juan Tricarico
    Dairy Management, Inc.
  • Dr. Glenn Carpenter
    Natural Resources Conservation Services
  • Lydia Olander
    Nicholas Institute TAGG
  • Debbie Reed
  • Ross Wilson
    Texas Cattle Feeders Association
  • Joe Young
  • John Butler
    Innovative Livestock Services
  • Atlantic Dairy and Forage Institute
  • Beef Marketing Group
  • Camco
  • Dairy Management, Inc.
  • Texas Cattle Feeders Association
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Leading Carbon
  • ClimateCHECK
  • Jonathan Winsten
    American Carbon Registry
  • Dr. Harvey Freetley
    USDA Animal Meat Research Centre
  • Ben Weinheimer
    Texas Cattle Feeders Association

Post a comment

Project Documents


©2015 Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases (C-AGG). All rights reserved.