Dear GRSB Member,

You will note this week the story that Richard Branson has stopped eating beef, to which he is partial, as a concession to the environment. Note too the response by Fawn Jackson of Canadian Cattlemen's Association.

Apart from the contradiction of someone who has spent his career encouraging increased consumption of goods and services, including aviation, feeling that his token beef consumption is going to make the difference, there is definitely a lesson here for GRSB. For some reason, agriculture, but very specifically beef, has been singled out for criticism as being a major cause of environmental destruction, with the implication that the farmers and ranchers who produce them are culpable and should be stopped; needless to say this is an unfair depiction of the situation. One wonders why Richard Branson did not give up flying or driving if he wants to make a genuine statement.

The reason seems relatively simple –beef is a convenient scapegoat that allows people to consume in any other area while assuaging their guilt through changing their dietary preferences. World beef consumption will not drop of course –the increase in demand is not coming from top end consumers in western countries, and yet by pretending that they have solved the problem on an individual level, people like Richard Branson have turned their back on the opportunity to make a real difference by engaging in the full spectrum of global issues that impact our environment, which include all of his businesses, not simply the global beef industry.


Ruaraidh Petre
Executive Director
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

Sustainability News

Richard Branson Gives Up Beef

Dateline: 07/14/14, Source: By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms

Virgin Group billionaire Richard Branson announced on his blog recently that he's decided to eliminate red meat, in particular beef, from his diet. He explains that his decision was made out of concern for the environment, citing statistics around meat consumption contributing to factors such as global warming and environmental degradation.

“I think that you would be interested in the work by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef that are working on the definition of sustainable beef so that you can enjoy one of your favourite meals again!” Fawn Jackson, Manager of Environmental Affairs at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), commented on Branson's blog.

Jackson makes an attempt to debunk the notion that cattle production is bad for the environment. She said, “while we recognize that beef production (as all foods) have an impact on the environment, the solution to that isn't so black and white. Yes, cows produce methane, however the grasslands where they live, can also sequester as much carbon as a temperate forest.”

Food Hero: Will Harris, Sustainable Livestock Producer Winner of the Growing Green Awards 2014

Dateline: 06/30/14, Source: Foodtank

Every year, the Growing Green Awards honor exceptional leaders and innovators committed to sustainable food and agriculture. Hosted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) in San Francisco, the 2014 awards have been given to four individuals chosen among hundreds of other candidates across the United States. Winners have been awarded in four categories: Sustainable Livestock Producer, Sustainable Food and Farm Educator, Pollinator Protector, and Regional Food Leader.

Will Harris, from the White Oak Pastures farm in Georgia, is the winner in Sustainable Livestock Production.

Sustainability Means Building Better Brands

Dateline: 07/06/14, Source: By Andrew Norris, Stock Journal, AU

"The longer we continue to slaughter our breeding herd, the better the outlook for prices when the market turns around." While this is a correct reflection of the fundamentals driving our beef prices, it is also a false economy for long–term, sustainable profitability.

High prices don't mean a business is profitable if you've spent a lot to carry the stock, or you have none left to cash in.

Livestock Industry's Sustainability Role Highlighted

Dateline: 06/26/14, Source: The Beef Site

A clear message that livestock production in Scotland deserves recognition for its valuable sustainability role, has come from Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland (QMS), at the Royal Highland Show.During a presentation attended by Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Mr McLaren warned that in the drive to lower emissions it was vital to avoid any "knee jerk, quick win" measures which would simply result in reduced output. "The red meat industry, and ruminant production systems in particular, are regularly in the firing line when climate change is discussed," observed Mr McLaren.

EFRA Calls for Robust Approach to Food Security

Dateline: 07/02/14, Source: By Ed Bedington, Meat Info UK

If the UK is going to handle issues such as extreme weather and increased global food demand, government must focus responsibility onto one department, and that should be Defra, according to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA). Launching a report on food production, supply and food security, committee chair Anne McIntosh said: "Complacency is a genuine risk to future UK food security. If we want our food production and supply systems to be secure, government and food producers must plan to meet the impacts of climate change, population growth and increasing global demand for food."

Beef Summit Highlights Industry Challenges

Dateline: 07/02/14, Source: Farming UK

Yesterday's Beef Summit, held in London, has identified the challenges that face a sustainable beef industry, but now action is needed to make it happen, according to NFU Cymru's President, Stephen James.

The NFU's calls for a voluntary code of practice concentrating on notice periods and transparency of terms and conditions were recognised during the Summit. Speaking after the meeting, NFU Cymru President Stephen James said the details of this code of practice now needed to be clarified between the trade and the NFU in a matter of weeks before reporting back to the Westminster Government Minister.


Members In The News

'Sustainable' Beef a Golden Opportunity

Dateline: 07/08/14, Source: By Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Farmer

They're still trying to nail down what it means, but Canada is at the forefront when it comes to the global effort to create "sustainable" beef, according to the head of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. "You guys are rocking when it comes to sustainability," said Cameron Bruett. "You're doing a fantastic job."

The definition of sustainable changes with the person you ask, but it's nevertheless a great opportunity for Alberta and Canada, Bruett told attendees at Future Fare, the annual conference of the Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency.

Beef Sustainability Benchmark Study to Be Ready by Fall

Dateline: 07/01/14, Source: By Glenn Cheater, Alberta Farmer

Initial results of a project to benchmark the sustainability of the Canadian beef industry will be presented this fall at its annual general meeting, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef has announced.

JBS Takes Stake in Andrews Meat

Dateline: 07/09/14 Source: The Land AU

Leading meat processor JBS Australia has purchased a majority shareholding in NSW–based Andrews Meat, in a move designed to expand retail opportunities for JBS and supply for Andrews.

Andrews Meat is a 54–year–old family owned company with production and distribution facilities in Lidcombe and Dulwich Hill in Sydney. Andrews specialises in high quality portion cutting and further processing of meats for domestic and international restaurant and foodservice customers and also produces ready–cooked meals, under the company owned brand of Creative Food Solutions.

Tyson Foods (TSN) to Acquire Hillshire (HSH) for $63/Share

Dateline: 07/02/14, Source: Street Insider

Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN) and The Hillshire Brands Company (NYSE: HSH) announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Tyson Foods will acquire all outstanding shares of Hillshire Brands for $63 per share. The all–cash transaction is valued at approximately $8.55 billion, including Hillshire Brands' outstanding net debt. In addition, Tyson Foods will be making, on behalf of Hillshire Brands, a payment of the $163 million termination fee associated with the termination of Hillshire Brands' merger agreement with Pinnacle Foods Inc. (NYSE: PF). The board of directors of Hillshire Brands has accepted the notice of termination received from Pinnacle Foods and the previously announced transaction has been terminated.

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Welcome to the Table!

We Welcome The Newest Member to the Roundtable

Dateline: July 2014

Mt Brisbane Pastoral Company

Constituency: Producer

Mt Brisbane station covers 4,500 hectares of undulating country situated in the Brisbane Valley, west of Brisbane in Queensland, Australia. In 1893 the McConnel family was appointed as managers and later partners. They purchased the property outright in 1914 and have been on Mt Brisbane ever since. Originally a bullock fattening operation they began breeding and fattening from the 1960's. The breeding of purebred Droughtmasters was started in the 1970's.

Global News

Young Beef Producers Want Greater Consumer Focus

Dateline: 07/02/14, Source:ABC Rural AU

A group of Northern Territory cattle producers are preparing to become the future leaders of their industry. So who are they, and how do they hope to shape the northern beef sector?

Raised on her family's Lilla Creek Station, south of Alice Springs, Tanya Brooks and her husband now manage the property in their own right. For Mrs Brooks, understanding and meeting consumer expectations will be a key challenge for the next generation of beef producers.

Changing Landscape of Beef Industry

Dateline: 07/01/14, Source: By Bethany Johnston, Drovers CattleNetwork

Ranchers and beef producers listened to the report and changed how they were doing business. Back in 1991, the National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA), injection site lesions were a major concern for the beef industry. When participants responded to "visual characteristics" on the audit, problems that showed up 20 years ago were not mentioned. Injection site lesions did not appear to be evident problems in the 2011 Beef Quality Audit.

Back in 1991, injection site lesions occurred in 22.3% of carcasses. In 2011, injection sites lesions in fed cattle are less than 0.00001%, which is pretty darn close to zero.

Muscling No Impact on Productivity

Dateline: 07/03/14, Source: By Nick Heydon, The Land, AU

Despite perceptions held for years high muscling may compromise productivity in breeding cows, the research conducted by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has demonstrated cattle with high muscling did not suffer productivity losses but were rather at an advantage given better saleyard returns for cattle with a higher muscle score.

Indonesia Aims to Rely Less on Cattle Imports from Australia

Dateline: 07/05/14, Source:By Michael Safi, The Guardian

Both Indonesia's presidential candidates have promised the country will rely less on Australian cattle imports, in the final debate before polling booths open on Wednesday. Answering a question about Indonesia's beef prices, which are among the highest in the world, former military commander Prabowo Subianto said the country's domestic cattle industry needed to be strengthened.

Setter Takes the Reins at Consolidated Pastoral Company

Dateline: 07/08/14, Source: ABC Rural AU

Consolidated Pastoral Company (CPC), Australia's largest privately owned beef producer, has appointed a new CEO following the shock exit of Keith Warren. Troy Setter will take over immediately from Mr Warren, who has resigned for family reasons after less than a year with the company. CPC run 360,000 head of cattle across 5.6 million hectares in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Waitrose Raises Minimum Beef Cattle Price to £3.45 a Kilo

Dateline: 7/07/14, Source: By Kevin White, The Grocer UK

Waitrose has increased the minimum price it will pay for British beef cattle to £3.45 per kilo, and said it will guarantee the new price until 1 October.

India's Boneless Buffalo Meat Exports Flourish

Dateline: 07/07/14, Source:By Poorna Rodrigo, Global Meat News

India's boneless buffalo meat exports continue to soar, while the new BJP–led government, whose Hindu nationalist leaders have signalled opposition to India's beef industry in the past, have yet to indicate plans to restrict the sub–sector.

Beef Summit Overlooks the Short Term Issues

Dateline: 07/12/14, Source:Farming Life

Northern Ireland's beef farmers have been left disappointed following DEFRA's beef summit last week as figure heads merely glossed over the immediate issue of farm gate beef prices in favour of discussing more medium to longer term issues such as: a potential voluntary code of conduct between farmers and processors; better promotion of Red Tractor by retailers; and investigating further export opportunities for UK beef.

Beef Summit: Farmers and Processors to Work on Industry Code

Dateline: 07/01/14, Source: By Charlie Taverner, Farmers Weekly UK

Farmers and meat processors agreed to draw up a voluntary code of conduct for the beef industry at a government–led summit. Representatives from the farming unions and the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) will meet over the summer to discuss a code to increase transparency.

It would cover how trading terms, abattoir specifications and penalties are communicated to beef producers.

What Could Climate Change Mean for Agriculture?

Dateline: 07/14/14, Source: The Beef Site

World agriculture must create short and long term adaptation strategies to cope with climate change accelerating the water cycle.This is the finding of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report that sees rainfall periods being longer and more intense in the years to come. The recent paper Impact of Climate Change on the Water Cycle and Implications for Agriculture has tipped higher latitude areas for more rain in winter and summer. Drier summer weather is expected for mid-latitude and subtropical areas.

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