About the Project


Title: How can Ruby Country beef farming best transition to net-zero GHG emissions by (or before) 2050? – The Net-Zero Beef Farming Forum Project.

Funding Body: UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) – ‘Enhancing Place-based Partnerships in Public Engagement‘ theme.

Project Partners: Rothamsted Research, University of Exeter, Ruby Country Partnership,  West Devon Business Information PointDevon Communities Together.

Duration: September 2020 – May 2021.


What was the Project about?

The UK government has set itself an ambitious, legally binding target of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. To reach this target all sectors of the economy and society will need to play their part. Agriculture is responsible for around 10% of Greenhouse Gas emissions in the UK, about 16% in Devon, and in NW Devon, a predominantly livestock farming area, around 30%. Agriculture in general, and beef farming in particular therefore, can play a huge part in meeting both national and local GHG reduction targets.

The paths to net-zero for the sector, however, are challenging, not always clearly signposted, and need to negotiate a number of significant additional obstacles in terms of changes in agricultural policy and growing public debate around the role of meat and dairy in our diets. How can beef farming in the Ruby Country navigate this new landscape? How can beef farming, a sector so intrinsic to the Ruby Country that it gives it its name, make the move to net-zero whilst continuing to be economically viable? Put simply:

‘How can Ruby Country beef farming best transition to net zero GHG emissions by (or before) 2050?’

The primary aim of the project was to answer this question, and the people, we believed, who were best placed to answer it were Ruby Country beef farmers and beef farming stakeholders. That is why we  established what we called the Ruby Country Net-Zero Beef Farming Forum, to collectively discuss the issue, identify the challenges, and propose solutions.


In addition, and related to this primary aim, the project wanted to:

  1. Identify barriers to engagement between researchers and farming communities e.g. lack of shared language, common goals and priorities.
  2. Trial new consultative and co-creation methods: strengthen links between research and RC community partners; establish new means of co-producing research and innovation priorities to enhance the sustainability of the grassland livestock sector.
  3. Using co-creation methods (principally a Farming Forum), produce a well evidenced, farming community supported roadmap for the sustainable transition of the RC beef sector to net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 (or earlier).
  4. Translate outputs from community engagement and existing research activities into well evidenced, accessible formats for use by project partners
  5. Identify new structures to facilitate the feedback of co-produced priorities into future research strategies and plans within the research partners.
  6. Ensure the outputs from the project/process (principally the ‘roadmap’) are fed into and inform the Devon Carbon Plan and associated Devon Citizens’ Assembly 2021.