What's in the news right now about the environmentally sound, socially responsible and
economically viable
beef value chain.





Dear GRSB Member, 

From Ruaraidh Petre
Executive Director Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

The final two months of the year are a busy time for conferences, meetings and workshops; over the coming weeks GRSB will be represented at several of these, including the GTPS sustainability in practice meeting in Brazil and our joint working group on forests with GTPS, as well as a UN Global Compact meeting on Sustainable Agriculture Business Principles.

While we gear up for winter in the Northern hemisphere, summer is coming in the South, and unfortunately in several countries this is accompanied by drought - spare a thought for the producers dealing with prolonged drought in much of eastern Australia to the west of the dividing range (see weekly times article on the severe economic impact), and in Namibia and Botswana where destocking has been extensive just to survive and local food supplies are now running out. Texas also continues to suffer, despite some recent rain.

Our next physical board meeting will take place in Australia at the end of the 1st Quarter 2014, and preparations are also underway for the second Global Conference for Sustainable Beef in Brazil in August of next year – for opportunities to sponsor the event, please contact us.


Roundtable Updates

Regional Workshops: Innovating for More Sustainable Beef
Dateline: 11/13, source: WWF/NCBA

Combining field tours, presentations, expert panels, and discussion, three workshops in 2013 brought participants to Montana, Texas and Nebraska. The workshops were jointly convened and planned by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and National Cattleman'ss Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff.

The workshops were funded through the Beef Checkoff, McDonald's, the Packard Foundation, Sam's Club, Walmart, and the Walmart Foundation. The Keystone Center provided independent facilitation and prepared this summary report. Open PDF HERE.

Member News

Beef Processor Cargill To Change Ground-Beef Labeling After Media Outcry Over BPI's 'Pink Slime'
dateline: 11/05/13, source: Headlines and Global News.

One of the world's largest beef processors will begin labeling their meats when finely textured beef is used to make U.S. ground beef products by spring, Reuters reported.

Cargill Inc. produces a finely textured beef made of beef chunks, including trimmings, and uses citric acid to kill E. coli and other contaminants, Reuters reported. This beef has been produced since 1993 and is used to produce higher-volume, less fatty ground beef.

As consumers demand more transparency from meat companies after last year's media scandal of Beef Products Inc., a South Dakota-based company, agribusiness are beginning to disclose how the food is made and are including more information on the packaging, according to Reuters.

According to Cargill, the new ground-beef packaging will debut in early 2014 and was encouraged by a survey of more than 3,000 consumers over a period of 18 months and questioned them on their views of ground beef and how it is produced, Reuters reported.

Cargill Animal Nutrition and Provimi Unveil PROMOTE™, a New Brand for Feed Additives
dateline: 11/12/13, source; Cargill News Release

Cargill Animal Nutrition, through its Provimi business, today introduced PROMOTE™, a new global brand and line of feed additives designed to help bring to animal producers, feed manufacturers and retailers the industry’s most innovative and impactful feed-additive solutions.

Feed additives play an increasingly important role in animal nutrition as livestock producers seek new ways to enhance performance, improve feed conversion and address changing consumer demands. PROMOTE™ is a significant step forward in Cargill Animal Nutrition's commitment to serve customers as a trusted advisor and source of innovation. Cargill'ss Provimi business will globally roll out PROMOTE™ in the coming months.

Woolies Strengthens Retail Beef Share Position in Latest Consumer Data
dateline: 11/08/13, source: Beef Central

Woolworths improved its retail beef market share position relative to Coles and independent butchers in the latest monthly consumer survey data released through Nielsen Homescan. Woolworths held 32.5 percent of national retail expenditure on beef in the most recent Nielsen Homescan* survey, for the rolling quarter period ended October 5.

It was the company’s best result since May/June, being 0.3pc better than the previous September rolling quarter. Biggest rival Coles continued a recent soft decline in retail beef share, falling by 0.5pc to 24.5pc in October

Swift CCTV Camera Action
dateline: 11/13/13, source: Weekly Times Now.com.au, by Rob Harris & Peter Hemphill

The world's largest meat processor is putting closed-circuit television cameras in its Australian meatworks. JBS Swift Australia director John Berry said the company was installing CCTV cameras in its meatworks for animal welfare and meatworker safety issues.

But he said the cameras were for JBS's internal use for its continuous improvement program and there were no plans to allow outsiders to view footage. The move coincides with the RSPCA's suggestion last week CCTV cameras should be put in Australian meatworks to create greater public confidence on animal welfare issues.

  In The News



Are Farm Veterinarians Pushing Too Many Antibiotics?
dateline: 11/05/13, source: WUNC North Carolina Public Radio 

In a barn outside Manhattan, Kan., researchers from Kansas State University are trying to solve the riddle of bovine respiratory disease. They're sticking plastic rods down the noses of 6-month old calves, collecting samples of bacteria.

"This bacteria, Mannheimia haemolytica, lives in most cattle," explains Mike Apley, one of the research leaders. Sometimes, for reasons that aren't well understood, those bacteria make cattle sick. When that happens, or when it just seems likely to happen, cattlemen deploy antibiotics.

Apley hopes to find out, among other things, whether those antibiotics actually work as advertised. If they don't, he says, it's an easy decision to not use them. Farmers save money, and meat industry critics, who want farmers to use fewer antibiotics, are happy too. "It's a win-win for everyone."

Unfortunately, when it comes to antibiotics on the farm, it's not always a win-win. And when there's a fight, veterinarians are right in the middle of it, pushed back and forth by conflicting loyalties.  Interview with Steven Henry, swine specialist:


Government of Canada Supports the Canadian Cattle Industry
dateline: 11/08/13, source: DigitalJournal.com

The Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health and Member of Parliament (Edmonton-Spruce Grove) announced federal government support for Canadian beef and cattle exports today at Farmfair International at Northlands in Edmonton, Alberta. Canadian cattle producers will soon have one integrated cattle production assurance system and enhanced support to cultivate new export opportunities for their high-quality livestock thanks to two investments of nearly $1 million from the Government of Canada.

"The beef cattle industry is an important economic driver that creates jobs and keeps the Canadian agriculture sector competitive and profitable," said Minister Ambrose. "Having Canadian cattle producers showcase their top-quality products here at Farmfair International will help them reach new markets and boost export sales."

An investment of up to $717 500 will allow the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA) to develop biosecurity, animal care and environmental stewardship modules, and integrate them into the existing on-farm food safety program, Verified Beef Production™ (VBP). This integrated system will offer beef producers an all-in-one on-farm program.

Uruguay and US Reach Sanitary Agreement
dateline: 11/14/13, source: MercoPress

Boneless and matured lamb and mutton from Uruguay will have access to the United States market as of next 29 November.

The announcement was made in Montevideo by visiting US Agriculture Under Secretary Edward Avalos, following its publication in the US Federal Registry and means the conclusion of nine years of negotiations. “This is great news for Uruguayan farmers and the meat industry not only because it's another market but because with the US certification it will facilitate access to other markets”, said Jose Costa, president of Uruguay's Meat industry association Adifu.

This also means that Uruguay joins the exclusive club of countries with lamb access to the United States, Australia and New Zealand. Contrary to what happens with beef, there are no quotas in the US for lamb and mutton.

Beef Industry in Focus
dateline: 11/08/13, source: Rural Weekly, AU

Reforms backed by the Federal Government are instigating massive changes to the beef industry.

Pushed for by new Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce in recent weeks, the changes include cutting red tape in the live export sector, as well as the call for a Senate Inquiry into the beef cattle industry's levy system.

Mr Joyce on Monday requested the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs Legislation Committee entertain the prospect of conducting an inquiry into the disbursement of levies in the industry.

"The beef cattle industry has primary responsibility for its own affairs and strategic direction - the government supports this through the collection and disbursement of levy monies," he said. "It is vital the beef industry has the right systems and structures in place to capture the opportunities in the coming decades in Asia and elsewhere. Australia is a major player in the global beef trade, but as with anything, there is always room for improvement."

He said an inquiry would deliver a clear way forward, and recommended it be specifically focused on the disbursement of levies.

Climate, Weather and Cattle
dateline: 11/13/13, source: Drover’s Cattle Network, by Dan Loy, Iowa Beef Center director

One of the program priorities of the Iowa Beef Center is to help the industry adapt to environmental and economic risk.

A report released last month by the Council for Agriculture Science and Technology (CAST), suggests that the global greenhouse gas emissions for all of agriculture are 14%. Regardless of the true number, this report mostly discusses how the global livestock industry can reduce their footprint and carbon emissions. The good news is that many of the ideas are consistent with efficient, cost effective and sustainable beef production.

The suggestions include improving efficiency of feed digestibility, achieving better animal health, genetic selection for performance and efficiency, improving grazing and grassland management, recycling manure nutrients to reduce fertilizer use in crop production, and more efficient production of dairy-beef.

The process of making beef production more efficient and cost effective also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

Call for Europewide Inquiry into Beef Industry
dateline: 11/12/13, Farming Life

Republic of Ireland Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Agriculture Éamon Ó Cuív has called on the European Union to commission an enquiry in the beef industry across Europe.

Deputy Ó Cuív said the beef processing industries across Europe need to be examined not just in the wake of the horse meat scandal but in the context of questionable practices in some European countries.

He commented: “I am calling on the European Union to institute an enquiry into every aspect of the beef processing industry across Europe.

“There are a number of issues that need to be examined. These include claims of questionable practices in the industry, the variation in the price paid for cattle from country to country and whether some sections of the industry are in an over dominant position.

Drought, Export Ban Hurts AACo
dateline: 11/07/13, source: Weekly Times Now.com, AU

Australia's largest beef producer says the ban of live cattle exports to Indonesia in 2011 and drought led to a $31.6 million half-year loss.

Australian Agricultural Company says domestic cattle prices slumped because of the live exports suspension and a very bad drought in northern Australia.

Although AACo sold 17 per cent more cattle in the six months to the end of September than in the prior corresponding period, prices for live cattle fell 12 per cent in that time, contributing to a $20.4 million drop in revenue from live cattle sales.

"The external conditions in which we operate continue to be challenging," acting chief executive Craig White said.

"The flow-on effects of the former federal government's 2011 suspension of the live export trade to Indonesia has meant a surplus of cattle in the domestic market, resulting in lower domestic prices.

Beef Industry Applauds Manitoba's Hay Insurance…
dateline: 11/08/13, source: Western Producer, By Robert Arnason

While it’s difficult to fight basic economics, a new hay insurance program might help counter that trend in Manitoba, says a beef industry leader. In October, the Manitoba and federal governments unveiled a new hay insurance program for livestock and forage producers.

Starting next year, farmers can buy two forms of hay insurance. One, called Select Hay Insurance, offers coverage for five types of hay: alfalfa, alfalfa-grass, tame grasses, sweet clover and coarse hay, where each hay category is insured separately. It also offers quality guarantees because growers can buy coverage for relative feed value.

The other program, known as Basic Hay Insurance, is a lower cost option that covers all acres of tame hay in an operation.

This issue:
·  To read the entire source article, please click on the link in the article headline
·  Roundtable Updates
  Member News
·  In The News

'Massive Breakthrough' as US to Lift Ban on EU Beef
dateline: 11/06/13, source: The Courier, UK

Scotland’s beef industry shared in a “small celebration” as the United States announced that it will finally reopen its gates to the import of European beef products.

The breakthrough comes 16 years after the US closed the door on trade relations with European meat producers, in January 1998 by imposing a ban on the grounds of BSE.

It also gives the UK red meat industry renewed access to a market worth an estimated £60 million.
The US Department for Agriculture first announced on Friday that it would step into line with scientific recommendations by the World Organisation for Animal Health, which date back to 2005, and resolve the long-running trade dispute by publishing new regulations which will reopen its market to EU producers.

Confirming the news yesterday, the European Commission said the reopening of the US marketplace is a “welcome, albeit late, step to abolish the unjustified ban and to re-establish normal trading conditions”

Cattle on Feed Numbers Drop 8 Percent
dateline: 11/05/13, source: Capital Press, by Carol Ryan Dumas

USDA's delayed cattle on feed report confirms industry analysts' estimates of tightening cattle supplies. The number of cattle on feed in October is at its lowest level for October since 1998. Low cattle supplies are driving high fed cattle and beef prices, which could hit a breaking point with consumers.

USDA’s delayed October cattle on feed report showing an 8 percent decline in cattle in large feedlots, didn’t surprise cattle industry analysts when it was released last week. Drought, high feed costs, and declining imports of Mexican cattle have prompted lower year-over-year feedlot numbers since September of 2012.

Throw in recent signs of herd rebuilding, and the decline in cattle in feedlots with 1,000 head capacity or more was not unexpected. The number of cattle on feed in October, at 10.144 million, is at its lowest level for October since 1998, and is the third lowest monthly level in 2013.

US Aligns Beef Rules with Global Mad Cow Standards
dateline: 11/02/13, source: WHTC, Reutuers

The United States on Friday issued new import rules for cattle and beef that will comply with international standards for the prevention of mad cow disease, saying the step could ultimately boost U.S. beef exports.

The European Union said the U.S. move would bring a welcome re-opening of a market closed to its beef since January 1998.
Lawmakers and industry groups also welcomed the news, saying it would help the United States regain access to markets that have been closed for decades.

World trade in beef was jolted in the 1980s by the discovery of mad cow disease, a fatal brain-wasting disease in cattle, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Many nations restricted imports, some of which remain in place, out of fear of a human version of the illness.

"Making these changes will further demonstrate to our trading partners our commitment to international standards and sound science, and we are hopeful it will help open new markets and remove remaining restrictions on U.S. products," said USDA chief veterinarian John Clifford.

An Accidental Cattle Ranch Points the Way in Sustainable Farming
dateline: 11/11/12, source: New York Times, by Stephanie Strom

When Tom Steyer first learned that his wife, Kat Taylor, wanted to sell beef from the cattle herd on their ranch here, he rolled his eyes.

Mr. Steyer is the founder of Farallon Capital, one of the largest hedge funds in the world with some $20 billion under management for universities, foundations and some of the country’s wealthiest people undefined and he was sure beef was a lousy business investment, particularly on a small scale.

“Practically every year since 1865 has been a bad year for beef,” he said, only somewhat in jest. Mr. Steyer may have made billions of dollars for his investors before retiring this year, but he would have lost money betting against Ms. Taylor and Leftcoast Grassfed, the brand name of the Steyer-Taylor beef.  “We could sell 10 times the amount we raise, in 10 minutes,” he said.

The plan was to create a model conservation project, demonstrating ways to improve soil health, use solar energy and conserve water. “This wasn’t about cows,” Ms. Taylor said.

But once cows became part of the plan to restore the land, it was not too long before TomKat also became an agricultural project, one that the couple hope will help develop sustainable farming practices that can be put to use far beyond Pescadero (California).

“Think of the ranch as a huge science experiment,” Mr. Steyer said. “Can you raise animals sustainably? Can the land become the carbon sink that it once was? Can you demonstrate a way of doing agriculture, raising food, that doesn’t damage the environment?

Agricultural Innovation to Protect the Environment: Special Feature
source: PNAS.org, by Jeffrey Sayer and Kenneth G. Cassman

In a world of 9.5 billion people, global demand for food, fiber, and biofuels has to be met with minimal possible increases in land, water, fossil fuels, and the minerals used to produce fertilizers.
Although there is debate on these issues, there is also strong consensus that we are witnessing unprecedented changes in our major agricultural systems. 

Growth in demand for agricultural products will mainly occur in markets of emerging economies, particularly in the most populous countries of Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, the ways in which China, India, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ethiopia, and South Africa respond to growing food demand will be major determinants of environmental change at a global scale.

(To read Abstract, click on HERE to go to PNAS.org and scroll down to Special Feature. Click box to select.)

Evaluation of Farming Systems, New Ideas and Learning with Practitioners Should be Part of a Transformed Agriculture.
source: scidev.net

Food security is difficult to pin down. It can be explained simply as access to enough food. But behind that simplicity lies an interconnected web of factors undefined from food prices to agricultural practices, nutrition, natural resources,  technology, trade and social development. 

Breaking down such complexity to its component parts is artificial, but is often necessary to gain understanding. It is in that spirit that the collection of articles this week focuses on just one, but fundamental, aspect of food security: sustainable agriculture. We examine how science and technology (S&T) can increase agricultural productivity within environmental and resource limits.

Although agricultural productivity has changed remarkably over the past 50 years or so, partly helped by advances in S&T, the limits to this growth are now clear. Scarce land and water, poor soils, climate change impacts and more mouths to feed are among the challenges farmers face in the twenty-first century, particularly the smallholders who grow most of the food consumed in the developing world.

Environmental Management Systems: Are They Just Hot Air?
dateline: 11/12/13, source: TheBeefSite.com

ANALYSIS - Sincere approaches to sustainability are taken by companies after commitments to environmentally-friendly practices are made, new research suggests.

Researchers for the European Commission have found that the adoption of the ISO 14000 environmental management programme was not ‘greenwash’, but reflected a move towards more sustainable practices in both European and North American companies. ISO 14000 is designed to help reduce environmental impacts produced by manufacturing businesses and among those sectors that have the greatest impact on the environment is food production. Global food production occupies 25 per cent of all habitable land and is responsible for 70 per cent of fresh water consumption, 80 per cent of deforestation, and 30 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Because of these impacts the sector has to seek to make itself as efficient as possible. The use of management systems, such as the ISO standards, are designed to increase efficiency and help reduce unnecessary waste by harmonising requirements and making production processes completely efficient.

Prairies Vanish in the US Push for Green Energy
dateline: 11/13/13, source: SFGate.com, Associated Press, by Chet Brokaw and Jack Gillum

Across the Dakotas and Nebraska, more than 1 million acres of the Great Plains are giving way to corn fields as farmers transform the wild expanse that once served as the backdrop for American pioneers.

This expansion of the Corn Belt is fueled in part by America's green energy policy, which requires oil companies to blend billions of gallons of corn ethanol into their gasoline. In 2010, fuel became the No. 1 use for corn in America, a title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost this year. That helps keep prices high.

"It's not hard to do the math there as to what's profitable to have," Malsam said. "I think an ethanol plant is a farmer's friend."

Climate Change and North American Rangelands: Trends, Projections, and Implications
dateline: 9/13, source: srmjournals.org

A paper recently published in the journal Rangeland Ecology and Management synthesizes current knowledge of trends, projections and ecological implications of climate change to rangelands in North America. 

Higher temperatures, changes in precipitation and increased concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will affect rangeland ecosystems including changes in; forage quantity and quality, livestock metabolism, fire regimes, plant community composition and invasive species. 

The paper acknowledges that climate change impacts will vary among different ecoregions.  The article lists knowledge gaps and recommends integrating climate change into strategies for rangeland management, research and policy. Authors include scientists from Texas A&M and USDA researchers from Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. To read the paper, click HERE.

British Beef and Lamb Production Needs to Rise, Says Eblex
dateline: 11/07/13, source: meatinfo.co.uk

Production of British beef and lamb needs to increase before the meat industry loses out on the growing opportunities being opened up to it on the global export market.

Jean-Pierre Garnier, export manager of red meat levy body Eblex, said demand for beef and lamb had outstripped supply, thanks to booming exports of British meat.

And unless British farmers responded to the market demands, they faced missing out on an opportunity to establish themselves as suppliers of excellent-quality meat products to the global market, he warned.  

“Beef and sheep meat exports are showing good growth, both now and in the longer-term,” Garnier told delegates at the Eblex annual conference in Warwickshire on Tuesday (5 November).


UK Retailer and Processor Scrutinise US Beef Production
dateline:11/07/13, source: GlobalMeatNews.com, by Elise Svanevik

UK retailer Asada and food processor ABP recently attended a study tour to the US to identify the ultimate in feed-efficient beef production.  The tour was aimed at increasing efficiency in suckler beef production through selective breeding for feed conversion and herd productivity.  They were also given a better understanding of how large-scale farming systems work in the US.


       News We Can Use

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