As featured in the Sydney Morning Herald, 2 April 2015
Article: Claire Dunn
Former chartered accountant turned pig farmer Edwina Beveridge is making her mark as a pioneer in the industry, turning methane into money as Australia’s first ‘carbon farm’.
Taking over from her parents at Blantyre farm near Young in south-west NSW in 2007 along with husband Michael, Beveridge says she was ready to get back to her roots, but bring city efficiency with her.
“We’ve doubled operations since we took over eight years ago, with staff numbers now up around 30. I love that we still have employees that have been with the family for 27 years,” Beveridge says.
One of the first changes she made was to the feeding system – moving from manual to automatic, and sourcing 60 per cent of the pig feed from unwanted food waste that would normally go to landfill.
Beveridge soon turned her attention to the opportunities opening up in the carbon market.
With its 22,000 pigs, Blantyre Farm was one the first farms to tap into the former government’s Carbon Farming Initiative program, spending almost $1 million on a biogas generator that captures methane from the manure, turns it into electricity and exports it to the national grid.
“Technology has made a big difference to how we do things. It was a case of right place and time to install the biogas generator and become the first commercial pig farm in Australia to also be a carbon farm,” Beveridge says.
The windfall for Blantyre was turning a monthly gas and electricity bill of $15,000 into a $5000 credit.
“Not only does it save money, it also reduces odour and is great for the environment,” she says.
With the change of government federally, Beveridge is currently tackling the paperwork to allow the farm to continue turning manure into carbon credits under the replacement Emissions Reduction Fund.
Under this scheme, credits will be sold to the government in a tender process rather than on the open market. It’s a system not without its drawbacks, says Beveridge.
“The pity is we pay 20 cents per kilowatt when we buy power, but only get paid 5 cents per kilowatt when we sell it.”
Unafraid to muck in on political issues, Beveridge now holds the title of deputy chairwoman of the NSW Farmers’ pork committee. She was also runner-up in the 2014 NSW Rural Women of the Year award and is a newly appointed member of the NSW Primary Industries Ministerial Advisory Council. continue