Summary: RuMeth International has developed the Ruminant Methane Efficiency Tool (RMET), a management tool for cattle operations in North America. This innovative tool uses Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as a metric for both production efficiency and environmental impact.  Our goal is a practical management tool to inform decision-making, and represent the environmental footprint of cow-calf, dairy, and feedlot operations.  We are pleased to be recognized by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) in our efforts to help ranchers utilize their resources more efficiently and sustainably. USRSB Support Letter

Background: RMET is based on the work of Richard Bowman, President of RuMeth. Mr. Bowman developed a methodology for evaluating cattle production systems using ruminant methane and other GHG emissions to measure productivity, and identify options for improving efficiency and minimizing enteric methane emissions. Mr. Bowman also helped set up one of the first on-farm campaigns to directly measure enteric methane emissions in dairy operations, and developed whole farm Greenhouse Gas Calculators (GCCs) for Canadian livestock operations. The GCCs incorporated a practical analysis of the six most important operational sources of CO2, CH4 and N2O emissions, applying them on a larger scale to evaluate operational efficiency, inform decision-making, and represent the environmental footprint of Canadian beef and dairy operations.

Framework: RuMeth developed RMET as a practical management tool to both measure production efficiency and represent the environmental footprint of North American cattle operations.  It is based on the AMS-III.BK methodology, and the logical and computational framework of the GGCs. RMET is built on the concept that carbon lost is money lost, representing the cost of producing a pound of meat, or a liter of milk, as xxx grams of CO2e emitted.  It can be used to indicate the relative production efficiency of livestock operations, and identify options for improvement. The RMET calculates GHG emissions (CO2e) per unit of output and uses it as the metric for both production efficiency and yield.  Specifically, the RMET methodology uses objectively measurable farm-level data (land resources, animal inventories, weights, diets, etc.) to calculate annual GHG emissions from individual operations – as opposed to modeling GHG emissions based on generalized production parameters.  Its holistic approach combines farm-level information on the five main GHG source points (enteric, manure, feed/bedding inputs, energy inputs, and fertilizer inputs) with data on land use, vegetative cover, and management to calculate both efficiency and yield and total GHG emissions.

Application: The RMET is like a Balance Sheet – it is a picture of the operation at a point in time.  With annual updates it can measure changes in the production efficiency of individual operations, identify areas for improvement, and calculate changes in the emissions of GHGs. The RMET is designed first and foremost as a management tool for measuring operational efficiency.  It consolidates multiple sources of operational data into a single framework with a common denominator – CO2e emitted per unit of production.  The RMET “score” is a relative measure, whose value lies in comparing it with prior years for the same operation, or with other operations.  The RMET score also represents an initial environmental footprint for the operation. It therefore provides a relatively simple and straightforward starting point for individual producers, or groups of producers, to begin measuring and monitoring the impact of sustainable practices. It will also provide producers with access a means to market their product as environmentally responsible, respond to criticisms, and defend their environmental stewardship using 3rd party certification.

Our vision is to make the RMET commercially available to individuals or groups of producers interested in promoting the sustainability and responsibility of their operations.  For example, the adoption and use of the RMET by the members of a grazing association, or a cooperative marketing group, would help them advise their members on operational practices to improve efficiency, represent their environmental credentials, differentiate (brand) their product, and defending their stewardship credentials.