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General Assembly Vote
on the Principles & Criteria Document
will remain open until 11:59 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time
Friday, October 10, 2014

Dear GRSB Member,

Welcome to GRSB Connect. The number of sustainability initiatives seems to be growing all the time; this does lead to confusion on the part of the industry itself, and on the part of the consumers. We try to keep track of developments in these initiatives, and while attending a meeting on the responsible use of antibiotics in livestock last week, I was exposed to the cynicism that the overuse of the word sustainability can result in.

A professor from a European university challenged me with the suggestion that "sustainability can mean anything to anybody", in other words that it is simply catch phrase or worse still, an exercise in greenwashing. Fortunately I was reasonably well prepared for this, as GRSB has spent over a year defining exactly what we mean by sustainability, and I could relate this to him in simple terms of our principles and criteria.

It remains a concern that the number of initiatives is in danger of diluting the message, and that at the same time, there are increasing numbers of reports, films (see "Cowspiracy below") and articles that imply that any and all beef production must be per se unsustainable.

The livestock industry as a whole needs to do a better job of explaining the important role of livestock not only in food production, but also in maintaining key grassland environments, and its huge potential role in carbon sequestration and thus mitigating climate change. We should not shy away from valid criticism, but we need to move on from the simplistic black and white attitudes that seem to be becoming entrenched. Acknowledgement of problems where they exist is an important step, along with a clear approach to solving them.

For this GRSB's own strategy for moving forward has to be clarified, and to this end members will be canvassed for their opinions before the conference, and following the new board elections in Brazil, we will spend time on developing that strategy so that we can continue to answer those who may feel that sustainability initiatives are just an attempt to divert interest from the real issues.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

Roundtable News

Sustainability Experts to Keynote Global Beef Conference

Dateline: 09/25/14, Source: CSR Wire, GRSB News Release

"The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is excited to announce that an impressive array of sustainability experts will offer their perspectives on how the global beef value chain can achieve sustainable outcomes," said Cameron Bruett, president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) and head of corporate affairs for JBS USA, the North American subsidiary of JBS S.A., the world's largest meat processing company. Mr. Ricardo Sánchez López, The Nature Conservancy's Director of Sustainable Food Security, will keynote the opening session of GRSB's Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, which will be held November 2–5 in São Paulo, Brazil. "Mr. Sánchez's experience, both in the public sector and in civil society, will provide great insight into the challenges of balancing the economic, environmental and social pillars of the global sustainable beef effort."

Mr. Sánchez has more than 15 years of experience in agricultural development issues, sustainable agriculture and public policy. Previous to his current position, he served as Colombia's Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development.

"GRSB is a global, multi–stakeholder organization focused on improving the sustainability of the beef value chain. We view sustainability as a journey of continuous improvement where the three pillars are balanced to achieve sustainable outcomes" said Bruett. "Mr. Sánchez will bring a unique vision of how to balance these three pillars based on his experience in Latin America."

Also keynoting the opening session is Ms. Karin Kreider, Executive Director of the ISEAL Alliance, the global hub for social and environmental standards systems. ISEAL members are leaders in the field, committed to creating solid and credible standards systems.

"Although the GRSB does not intend to develop standards itself, many of its members are interested in the process of building consensus among stakeholders," said Ruaraidh (Rory) Petre, GRSB's Executive Director. "We need consensus on the processes and the means by which sustainability indicators are evaluated; without clear evidence of triple bottom line benefits, regardless of context, sustainable adaptations will remain open to question."

The conference's theme, "Sustainable Beef: Building a Vision for Our Future," sets the framework for the roll–out of GRSB's recently developed principles and criteria, which define sustainable beef and identify the means to measure progress in the global sustainable beef chain at the national or regional levels. With speakers from around the globe, the conference will also provide a forum for regional sustainability initiatives to showcase their efforts and successes.

Another keynote at the conclusion of the conference will be delivered by Francesca DeBiase, Vice President for Strategic Sourcing and Sustainability for McDonald's Worldwide Supply Chain during which she will focus on why sustainability is so important to their business. Ms. DeBiase is a 23–year veteran of McDonald's and leads a team of supply chain and sustainability professionals.

"We are pleased that we have Francesca as a part of the Global Conference," said Dr. Roger Cady, Agenda Development Leader for the Conference as well as the Global Sustainability Lead for Elanco Animal Health. "Her vast experience and real–world knowledge of sustainability will add greatly to the discussion on the future of the GRSB."

GTPS, the Brazilian Roundtable on Sustainable Livestock, has arranged both pre– and post–conference tours of key areas of beef production in Brazil in both Mato Grosso do Sul and in Alta Floresta in the Amazon. Full details on the tour options are on the registration website.

Registration remains open for those interested in attending the Global Conference and it is strongly recommended that individuals begin the visa process as soon as possible if traveling from countries for which Brazil requires visas. For more information and online registration, please visit

Sustainability News

Selling Sustainability – What's In It for Australian Agriculture? A Special Panel Discussion

Dateline: October, 2014, Source:Rural Press Club AU

Changing market and community expectations as well as growing consumer and interest group activity has led to increased scrutiny over how our food and fibre is produced. However, the issue of defining and substantiating the sustainability of our agricultural production and management practices has ignited heated debate and deeply polarised Australian agriculture. So what's in it for Australian agriculture?

Join us for a special panel discussion with three speakers representing three different agricultural industries and at very different stages of the sustainability challenge. Invitation and registration information HERE.

Lots of Green Make Scotland's Beef a Sustainability

Dateline: 09/26/14, Source: The Cattle Site

Scotland, being covered in green, green grass, is perfect for grazing – 80 per cent is known as uplander hill country. One of best things you can do with this land is put a ruminant on it and turn it into protein, which makes Scotland a haven for sustainable beef. Sarah Mikesell, 5m senior editor. interviews Johnny Mackey, Head of Industry Development with Quality Meat Scotland. See 4 1/2 minute Video interview HERE.

Unilever Ramps–Up Animal Care Standard

Dateline: 10/02/14, Source: Meristem Land & Science: Farm Animal Care

Another food giant has made a goliath–like move with implications for farm animal care. Anglo–Dutch based Unilever – the multi–national behind numerous brands from Becel and Hellman's to Knorr and Lipton – has announced updated supply chain standards for animal welfare. They come with teeth, including moves to support addressing difficult issues such as the culling of day–old male chicks.

Unilever is also the world's third largest consumer goods company. The welfare move is sure to send ripples throughout additional layers of the global food industry. For suppliers, it means another major piece to manage among the now swelling ranks of brand–driven animal care demands.

Farming Must Adapt to Sustainable Farming

Dateline: 10/01/14, Source: The Cattle Site

Policy makers should support a broad array of approaches to overhauling global food systems, making them healthier and more sustainable, said FAO Director–General José Graziano da Silva. Calling for a "paradigm shift," he said that today's main challenges are to lower the use of agricultural inputs, especially water and chemicals, in order to put agriculture, forestry and fisheries on a more sustainable and productive long–term path.

European Livestock Sector Collaborates on Sustainable Development

Dateline: 10/03/14, Source: The Poultry Site

Research in technology and biology provides new development opportunities for European livestock farming, delegates to the recent European Association of Animal Production (EAAP) conference heard in Copenhagen.

Report of the BBSRC Working Group on Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture (PDF)

Source: BBSRC's Food Security Strategy Advisory Panel

This report presents the findings of a Working Group established by BBSRC's Food Security Strategy Advisory Panel (FS SAP) to advise on the Council's role in relation to the sustainable intensification (SI) of agriculture: sustainably increasing the production of food (or other agricultural products), combined with improved resource use efficiency and better environmental (and social and economic) outcomes (including animal welfare).

Millions Invested in Intensive 'Green' Farming Research

Dateline: 09/30/14, Source:By WMNA Greenwood, Western Morning News UK

Millions of pounds are to be invested in research to see if farming can be intensified while benefiting the environment at the same time. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) have awarded £4.5 million for a series of projects to investigate ways to increase farm productivity while reducing negative environmental impacts – known as sustainable intensification.

Launch of Defra's Sustainable Intensification Research

Source: University of Exeter

A series of projects to investigate ways to increase farm productivity while reducing negative environmental impacts (sustainable intensification) will receive £4.5 million from Defra. Three interlinked research projects will establish the Sustainable Intensification Research Platform (SIP).

The University of Exeter's Centre for Rural Policy Research and BBSRC Rothamsted Research will lead a consortium of 22 organisations to deliver one of the SIP projects. The £2M project will develop ways to understand the actions that are needed to ensure that landscapes can, at the same time, deliver profitable farming and food production alongside a wide range of environmental benefits such as biodiversity, alleviating flood risk and carbon storage.

EPIC 2014 Sustainability – a Question of Balance

Dateline: 10/04/14, Source: Farmers Weekly

What's the big theme? Sustainability – or rather "Sustainable Intensification – A Question of Balance" to give this year's conference it's proper title.

And by this, we mean how can the egg and poultry sectors contribute to feeding a growing population while minimising its impact on limited global resources? And how can this be achieved within the confines of tightening regulation and mounting costs? Each speaker will be asked to give a perspective from their own area of expertise.

How the Beef Industry can Reduce Methane Emissions

Dateline: 10/02/14, Source: Ag Web

Nutritional modeling systems developed in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University have helped participating Texas feedlot operators keep feed costs in check and produce beef more profitably. Now, these models have the potential to be applied to help reduce greenhouse emissions, according to researchers.

FAO and IFIF 'On the Same Page' on How to Enhance Feed Safety and Boost Sustainability

Dateline: 10/06/14, Source:By Jane Byrne, Feed Navigator

Feed safety and antimicrobial resistance were two subjects grabbing the headlines at the annual meeting between long–time bedfellows, the UN's FAO and the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF), in Rome last week.

Stopping Global Deforestation Will Take More Than More Words

Dateline: 09/30/14, Source: By Peter Kanowski, The Conversation

At the recent UN Climate Summit in New York there was little in the way of new climate policy announcements, but 27 countries did sign a new forest agreement undefined the New York Declaration on Forests.

Some 27 national governments, 34 major companies, and 61 NGOs vowed to halve deforestation by 2020, and end it by 2030. Signatories included some countries with high rates of deforestation undefined Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia and Peruundefined but not Brazil, or some of the African countries now experiencing significant forest loss and degradation. The declaration is just the latest in international forest agreements that began in 1992. So, could the declaration succeed where past agreements have failed?

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Welcome to the Table!

We Welcome The Newest Members to the Roundtable

Dateline: October 2014

Control Union Certifications

Constituency: Observing Organization

Control Union Certifications is a global inspection and auditing company with a strong focus on (organic) agriculture, forestry, food safety, fishery, textiles and Biomass/Biofuels/Renewable Energy.

Costco Wholesale

Constituency: Observing Organization

Costco currently operates 660 warehouses, including 466 in the United States and Puerto Rico and additional locations in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Australia and Spain. The Company plans to open up to an additional three new warehouses prior to the end of its 2014 fiscal year. Costco also operates electronic commerce web sites in the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom and Mexico.


Constituency: Commerce & Processing

Zoetis is a global animal health manufacturer and provider of services to maintain the health of livestock and companion animals.

Members in the News

Marfrig Annual Report 2013

Source: Marfrig Global Foods S.A.

Marfrig Global Foods S.A. publishes its annual report for the eighth consecutive year, for the fourth year in accordance with GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines and for the first time in accordance with the G4 version. The topics covered include the profile of Marfrig Global Foods and its corporate governance guidelines, operating results, business strategy, financial performance, environmental preservation actions and social initiatives. See PDF of report HERE.

Why is the U.N.'s Declaration on Forests About Agriculture?

Dateline: 09/26/14, Source: By Jeff Hayward, Green

The U.N. Climate Summit in New York this week, where I participated representing the Rainforest Alliance, wasn't formally part of the climate negotiations. It was preparatory for the higher–stakes Conference of Parties meeting in Paris in December 2015, where players will negotiate a new climate agreement. However, it produced some remarkably hopeful and ambitious action statements and commitments, including the New York Declaration on Forests (PDF).

McDonald's: Sustainability is Job #1, #2 and #3

Dateline: 09/22/14, Source: The Pig Site

Bob Langert, McDonald's Global Sustainability VP, said their sustainability efforts are based on collaborations within their respective industries. "We want to do this right and to do it right we have to collaborate and get the right measures in place. We are determined to let science lead the way, but we are also determined to start purchasing (beef) in 2016."

When asked where McDonald's would purchase their first pound of sustainable beef, Langert said McDonald's has activities in every part of the world. He praised Canada, the US, Ireland, Australia and Brazil for their sustainability progress and the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef for their leadership. See 5–minute Video here interview HERE.

McDonald's, Nestlé Pledge to Halt Deforestation at UN Climate Summit

Dateline: 09/27/14, Source: By Kari Paul, Mashable

In the next few years, big name brands such as Axe body spray, Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Dove soap may be considered more environmentally friendly than they are now, thanks to actions taken at the United Nations Climate Summit earlier this week.

Several major companies, including Kellogg's, McDonald's, L'Oréal and Nestlé were among those who signed an ambitious pledge to combat deforestation at the New York summit on Tuesday.

Rabobank Report: Global Beef Industry Q3 2014

Dateline: 10/03/14, Source: Market Watch

Rabobank has issued a new report on the global beef industry, saying that although supply is increasingly tight, Russian import bans are unlikely to have a material effect.

In the report, published by Rabobank's Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group, bank analysts say that global beef supply is in a tightening phase, with most key producing and export regions already experiencing record tight supplies. Further tightening is expected throughout the remainder of 2014 and into 2015.

Rabobank believes that Russian import bans are unlikely to have a large impact on world beef markets, with Brazil's industry likely to be the ban's largest beneficiary. The impact on major exporters, such as Australia and the U.S., will be minimal given increased impediments to trade with Russia prior to the current ban.

Farmers Learn Marketing from the Experts, with Supermarket Giant Woolworths' Farmers Scholars Program

Dateline: 10/06/14, Source: By Sandra Locke, ABC Rural Au

The major supermarkets are pulling out all stops to convince politicians, the public and the competition watchdog that the way they do business is fair. Coles is on a major PR push, sponsoring farming events like the NFF Congress and Ausveg awards, while Woolworths has a scholarship program for young farmers which it says is designed to help them understand the role of retailers.

Global News

California Governor Vetoes 'Unnecessary' Livestock Antibiotics Bill

Dateline: 09/30/14, Source: The Guardian

The governor of California on Tuesday vetoed a first–in –the–nation state law to reduce the use of antibiotics in livestock production and said lawmakers should look for "new and effective ways" to prevent antibiotic overuse. The bill would have outlawed the use of antibiotics for growth in animals and required all antibiotics be prescribed by a veterinarian.

Some consumer and environmental groups cheered the veto, calling the state bill too similar to the FDA's existent measures and too weak to make any sort of material change.

Red Meat Advisory Council Consultation Tours Queensland as Meat Industry Strategic Plan is Developed

Dateline: 09/30/14, Source: ABC Rural AU

The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) is running consultative workshops to get input from all those involved in the industry to inform the development of the next Meat Industry Strategic Plan (MISP).

The plan will set out the overarching direction of the production, processing and live export sectors of Australia's beef, sheep meat and goat meat industries and is expected to be published in mid–2015.

Film Asks Why Meat–Industry Pollution Gets Ignored

Dateline: 10/01/14, Source: Portland Press Herald

'Cowspiracy' challenges mainstream environmental groups to take on diet's influence on the planet. Film makers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn begin their investigative journey with a simple question: Why do mainstream environmental groups such as Greenpeace, the Rainforest Action Network and the Sierra Club ignore one of the world's worst polluters, the animal agriculture industry? In a feature–length film that is by turns eye–opening, heart–wrenching and haunting, Andersen and Kuhn contend that these environmental groups are too timid, ill–informed or marketing–driven to tackle the sacred cow of meat–eating.

Meat Industry in Australia Seeks Free Trade Pact with GCC

Dateline: 10/02/14, Source: Gulf Times

The Australian meat industry has reiterated its desire to sign a freetrade agreement with the Gulf Co–operation Council (GCC) and is pressing the government in Canberra to enter negotiations on the issue. Industry representatives in Down Under argue that such an agreement – by lowering or abolishing GCC import tariffs and improve technical details such as expiring dates – would have favourable effects for both parties. On the one hand, it would boost Australia's meat exports, and on the other hand it would contribute to food security in the Gulf region where the domestic livestock industry can by no means satisfy demand.

Stewardship of New Technologies Embraced by US Meat Industry

Dateline: 10/03/14, Source: The Cattle Site

For the past several months, a diverse group of representatives from technology companies and the US beef, pork and lamb industries has tackled a critical question related to global access for US meat: What steps can the meat industry take to ensure that the introduction of new production and processing technologies does not interrupt trade?

Farmers Ready for Food Boom

Dateline: 10/01/14, Source: By Sue Neales, The Australian

Beef sales to China and the US are booming, the live cattle trade is set for its biggest year ever after Indonesia ordered a record 264,000 head in the next three months, sheep are selling for $200 a head and dairy companies are struggling to keep up with demand for milk and dairy products from Asia.

For Australia's $53 billion farm sector, it appears the long–awaited impact of rising wealth and population in Asia undefined and with it demand for more and better quality food and protein undefined has arrived.

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