Dear GRSB Member,

Welcome to the last edition of GRSB connect before the Christmas break — I hope you have the opportunity to relax and enjoy it with your family, and wish everyone the best in 2015.

It has been interesting to review the news articles over the past 2 weeks, it seems that there have been more reactions to the conference and more talk in general about sustainable beef recently than there were in the preceding weeks. Part of this is that it has taken time for the news to ripple into less specialised media, but the other aspect is that there have been a couple of recent articles that have caught headlines regarding the environmental impact of beef, specifically in terms of emissions.

There has also been a reawakened interest in what the term sustainable means; in the RoundUp article below you will see that the author defines it as being able to adapt to and survive all of the conditions that you face. In the Alberta express article Jerry Wulf talks about trust being a key component, and Doug Warnock offers his views on our principles in his Capital Press article.

The encouraging thing to me is that there are a lot of supportive voices from industry there, and that people do recognise that true sustainability is about win–wins. The less positive news picked up in Australia about ongoing drought in Queensland and the devastation it has wrought on producers there ("Heartbreak of Drought Has Been Forgotten" and "Winton's Last Emotional Stand"), underline what happens when sustainability has broken down – financially in this case. Spare a thought for those producers battling it out under adverse conditions, whatever the cause and wherever they may be, and remember that they are the cornerstone of the industry and deserve the support from the industry that they create. The win–wins have to deliver to producers, the bedrock of the industry, or they will mean nothing.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

Sustainability News

Will a Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Matter?

Dateline: 12/02/14, Source: By Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit

A movement is underway to make beef more sustainable. Held in São Paulo, Brazil, last month, the major supporters of this conference included McDonald's, Cargill and the animal pharmaceutical company Elanco. Over the course of four days, 300 attendees at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) issued what the organization described as the "release of the first global definition for 'sustainable beef'." The summary of what occurred in Sã;o Paulo will hardly endear the GRSB to advocates of a more plant–based diet and for an improved management of resources.

GRSB: Why Principles, Criteria Needed for Sustainability

Dateline: 12/10/14, Source: The Cattle Site

A major step forward was taken last month in Brazil at the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) when the multi–stakeholder group clarified what sustainability is. A major player in the process was the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, helping to give the US producer a voice as principles and criteria were ratified in São Paulo. CEO of the Association, Forrest Roberts, explained that sustainability means different things to different countries. Watch Video.

Defining Sustainable Beef Production

Dateline: 12/10/12, Source: By Doug Warnock, Capital Press

In recent months, several conferences have discussed and attempted to describe what constitutes sustainable beef production. A report from the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef in Colorado Springs, Colo., listed five core principles that should be considered when discussing sustainability: Natural resources, • People and community, Animal health and welfare, Food, Efficiency and innovation. Financial viability is another necessary component of sustainability. The beef operation must generate a profit or it cannot survive from a financial standpoint.

Trust Is the Key to Sustainable Beef Production

Dateline: 12/11/14, Source: By Jennifer Blair, Alberta Farmer

"As we go through this world, operating in this business that we're in, we've been passionate about looking for win–wins," Jerry Wulf, a Minnesota producer said at the recent Canfax Cattle Market Forum. "Win–loses aren't sustainable."

WPA & WCA Part of National Sustainable Ag Survey

Dateline: 12/11/14, Source: Wisconsin Ag News

There is a new partnership between the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture and local beef and pork producers looking to document, promote and communicate advancements in sustainable practices used on Wisconsin farms. NISA is working with the Wisconsin Pork Association and the Wisconsin Cattleman's Association on a groundbreaking program to measure on–farm sustainability success, encourage continual improvements and help farmers, food buyers and consumers learn about the sustainability of Wisconsin beef and pork operations.

With New Standards, Global Beef Industry Takes Contentious Step Toward Sustainability

Dateline: 12/08//14, Source: By Carey L. Biron, Mint Press News

Do new standards represent a genuine move towards boosting the sustainability of one of the world’s greatest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, or do they miss the mark by steering clear of specific standards and binding enforcement mechanisms?

Last month, for the first time, a significant cross-section of the global beef industry agreed to a set of broad principles aimed at nudging the sector toward greater sustainability. Yet some prominent watchdog groups say the new criteria are overly broad, and worry they will allow products to be marketed as “sustainable” without requiring major changes from the industry.

While other such initiatives do exist, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is by far the largest. The multi-stakeholder group’s membership — which has expanded significantly in recent years — includes many of the world’s largest producers, the four largest global processors, as well as huge retailers including McDonald’s Corp. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. It also comprises prominent civil society representatives, including those among the environmental community.

Defra launches £4.5m Sustainable Intensification Project

Dateline: 12/05/14, Source: Farmers Weekly

Defra has launched a £4.5m research project to investigate waysto increase farm productivity while reducing negative environmental effects. The scheme will bring together expertise from across the farming industry and research community to find ways to develop a more sustainable farming sector for the future.

AfDB Approves Major Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihood Programs in Four Horn of Africa Countries.

Dateline: 11/26/14, Source: All Africa

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) has approved a US $133–million program that will help countries in the Horn of Africa region break free from cycles of drought and famine. This second AfDB Group Drought Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Program in the region will help Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan to increase the income of agro–pastoralists through improved livestock production and related services (animal production and health, rangeland management, marketing, etc.) and the development of irrigation schemes.

BeefTalk: Wet and Dry; There Is No Constant

Dateline: 12/03/14, Source: By Kris Ringwall, RoundUp Web

Instead of sustainability, what we really may need is an organized response to ever–present change. As cattle producers, how we respond to the environment is key to our survival. The world is covered with water and plants. How we use the plants depends on how consumers look at their plates.

For some, managing the world's plants involves expanded usage and consumption of the plants. However, in the livestock business, the proliferation of plants enables the expansion of livestock.

Restaurants Should Boost Meat–Free Offer, Claims Alliance

Dateline: 12/03/14, Source: By Carina Perkins, Big Hospitality UK

Campaigners have called on restaurants and pubs to offer more low meat and meat–free options as new research suggests that British consumers are eating less meat. Concerns over health, animal welfare and cost were the biggest factors driving this trend, with concern for climate change, the enviroment and food sercurity less significant.

Meat Industry Hits Back at 'Misleading' Reports

Dateline: 12/05/14, Source: By Oli Haenlein, Meat Info UK

The UK meat industry has defended itself after two separate studies claimed that livestock production and meat consumption must be reduced to tackle climate change. The research also suggested that the British public was eating less meat, and was responsive to the idea of cutting its meat intake further.

However, Mike Whittemore, head of trade marketing for Eblex, criticised the Eating Better report. He said: "Any effort to reduce the impact that food production has on the environment should be applauded. However, it does take as a starting point the fact that reducing meat consumption in the UK will help the nation's health and improve global environmental performance — and these are misleading assertions at best.

Tackling Climate Change on a Global Scale — The COP 20 in Peru

Dateline: 12/08/14, Source: by Jeff Hayward, The Guardian

The UN framework convention on climate change (COP 20), under way in in the Peruvian capital Lima, will not produce a global climate treaty. That will depend on reaching a series of agreements with the 20 nations that emit 80% of total global greenhouse emissions (GHG), and the economic sectors that have the biggest impact on the world's climate. However, it could pave the way for a treaty being signed in Paris next year that will be seen as a turning point in reducing global warming.

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Members in the News

Cattlemen Announce Creation of New Private Company to Lead Traceability Efforts

Dateline: 12/08/14, Source: By Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald

The Canadian beef industry and an Edmonton–based information technology company have joined forces to create a new entity drafted with expanding and improving cattle traceability.

The new privately–held company — the result of a partnership between the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and ViewTrak Technologies — will take ownership of the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS), a database established by the CCA in 2009 to help Canadian beef producers share information throughout the supply chain.

Hunter Beef Industry Seeks Protection from Mining

Dateline: 11/30/14, Source: ABC Rural

The value of beef breeding to Australia from the New South Wales Upper Hunter and New England regions has been acknowledged by the new owners of the Scone meat processing plant, prompting a call for the industry to be protected from mining. The vote of confidence in the industry has come from JBS, new owners of the Scone abattoir.

JBS Australia, spent $1.5 billion to secure Primo Smallgoods and the Hunter Valley Quality Meats Scone plant.

Cargill to Develop Beef Sustainability Assessment

Dateline: 12/03/14, Source: Environmental Leader

Cargill Cattle Feeders, the cattle supply arm of the company's US beef business, has entered into an agreement with Wichita–based consultancy Kennedy and Coe to create a verified beef supply chain sustainability assessment program for Cargill feed yards. Based on the successful development of benchmarking and measurement criteria, this type of assessment could eventually be expanded to include cattle production in collaboration with stocker operators, ranchers, as well as with Cargill's feed yard partners.

Canadian Cattle Producers Drive to Sustainable Beef

Dateline: 12/01/14, Source: The Cattle Site

Much attention has been given to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, but specific national organisations are getting off the ground. Canada's Roundtable works on life cycle assessment, Fawn Jackson, Manager of Environment and Sustainability at the Canadian Cattlemen's Association told TheCattleSite. This means looking at carbon emission, water and energy, although other assessments on cattle impact on biodiversity and carbon sequestration are in the pipeline too. Watch VIDEO.

Global News

Heartbreak of Drought Has Been Forgotten

Dateline: 11/28/14, Source, By John Carter, The Land AU

I watched Evan Williams' heart wrenching 25 minute Al Jazeera news item on the North Queensland drought. I have seen nothing on our droughts as tragically illustrated by Australian media. He showed broken women trying to lift dying cows, shooting them in hundreds.It reminded me of ABC items on drought in the Horn of Africa. In those cases the United Nations gives aid.

Price–wise, Australian producers receive one third to half of what US producers receive – if they have any cattle that are still saleable. Government in this land has abandoned agriculture while trumpeting the opening of supposedly huge markets in Asia. Few news agencies talk of Australia's beef herd disappearing in record slaughter, live export and death in the paddock.

Tiffin Conference to Offer Insight into Red Meat Industry

Dateline: 12/04/12 Source: By Simmons, Garret, Lefthbridge Herald

"The Tiffin Conference features outstanding speakers from a diverse range of occupations connected to the red meat industry," said Lethbridge College School of Agriculture and Life Sciences chair Dr. Edith Olson. "Economists, analysts, producers, scientists, packers, wholesalers and retailers contribute their knowledge and perspective in engaging and lively presentations."

Cattle Industry Groups Solid in Opposition to Second Checkoff

Dateline: 12/08/14 Source: BEEF Magazine

The beef checkoff has been at the center of a lot of discontent and discord within the beef industry, but one outgrowth of that organizational dislike appears to have done just the opposite of what its original intent may have been, reports the Lincoln, Neb. Star–Journal. And that's almost universal opposition to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack's proposal to create a second, government–run national beef checkoff. "No groups have stepped forward to say they want to be a part of this," said Dave Wright, a Neligh, Neb. rancher and president of the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska.

Holiday Reading: 'Grainfed' Chronicles Colourful 70–Year Feedlot Industry History

Dateline: 12/05/14, Source: By Jon Condon, Beef Central

With the end–of–year holiday break fast approaching, Beef Central will profile a series of recently–published books that would make ideal Christmas gifts, or for personal consumption among industry stakeholders. Today: Any beef industry stakeholder who has had even a loose connection with the grainfed beef sector will find the recently–published history of the Australian feedlot industry an absorbing Christmas read.

Throw the Book at Debt

Dateline: 12/08/14, Source: By Sally Cripss, Queensland Country Life

It may be a virtual cliff but it's very real to James Walker of Longreach. The precipice of debt that has so many in western Queensland clinging by their fingertips is driving him to extraordinary lengths to tease out answers to the growing debt burden facing many trying to keep their cattle and sheep enterprises afloat.

Better Price Will Relieve Debt

Dateline: 12/10/14, Source: By Sally Cripps, Queensland Country Life

A minimum price of $4 a kilogram is what the beef industry needs to address the underlying debt issues facing many within their ranks, according to Gulf Cattleman's Association president Barry Hughes. He was one of the 220 people who attended the rural debt crisis summit dubbed Winton's Last Stand, partly to hear more from QUT Business School senior lecturer Dr Mark McGovern.

Winton's Emotional Last Stand

Dateline: 12/05/14, Source: By Sally Cripps, Queensland Country Life

Federal Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce flatly turned down the call from Katter's Australian Party for an Australian Reconstruction and Development Board at Friday's rural debt crisis summit in Winton, saying he had "Buckley's chance" of getting it through. The Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, one of the organisers of the meeting dubbed Winton's Last Stand, urged the sometimes emotional crowd to continue their fight for a reconstruction bank and a four month moratorium on bank foreclosures on debt.

Indonesian Cattle Importers Look to Brazil

Dateline: 12/10/14 Source: By James Nason, Beef Central

As Australian cattle exporters look to expand their market options via the imminent opening of a trade to China, customers in Australia's largest export market are seeking to diversify their supply sources at the same time.

Burger Chain Wants More Canadian Beef

Dateline: 12/11/14, Source: By Barb Glen, Producer

A & W does not use hamburger derived from cull cows. Queried by producers during a Dec. 3 Farming Smarter conference, A & W purchasing vice–president Trish Sahlstrom said the fast food chain uses beef from animals younger than 36 months because it is the only available classification that guarantees cull cows are not used.

"We do not use cull cows, and we never have," said Sahlstrom. The point speaks to criticism from some in the cattle industry about 
A & W's "better beef" campaign, which claims the beef used in hamburgers contains no added hormones or steroids.

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