Dear GRSB Member,

This is going to be an important year for communicating GRSBs message to the wider world and to consumers in particular. The Guardian article (The Beef with Sustainable Beef) continues to give our critics a platform while dismissing our own message as greenwash, even though many of our own civil society members are better known and respected than those who oppose us. Naturally there are publications with a specific agenda whose opinions will be very hard to change, however, recognition in the mainstream media for our efforts would be appreciated.

Ultimately we will of course be judged on what we achieve as a group – our members' impacts in the sustainability arena and their demonstration of progress add up to our collective impact. There will be plenty to report on this year, particularly in terms of national roundtables and the way we work with them. With projects around the world including Brazil, Canada, Colombia and the ongoing work of our global membership, there will be many positive impacts.

It is very important to us to be able to capture those impacts and report on them – when we have facts and figures to point to, it will be much less easy for our critics to accuse us of greenwash. So please do keep us informed on all of the positive things that you are all engaged with..


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

Sustainability News

The Beef with Sustainable Beef: Will McDonald's 'Sustainable Beef' Burgers Really Be Any Better?

Dateline: 01/13/15, Source: By Alla Katsnelson, The Guardian

In the near future, you might not feel as guilty about ordering a Big Mac. McDonald's claims that by 2016, some of its iconic burgers – along with other beef products – will be made with "verified sustainable beef".

While beef is beloved by Americans – who ate 25bn lbs (11bn kg) in 2013 – it's also one of the most environmentally damaging food in today's diet. So the fast–food giant's move to make beef more palatable for the environmentally conscious should be a welcome move. Except it's unclear what exactly is so sustainable – or indeed verifiable – about the beef of the future.

The beef industry is only at the beginning of a long journey to figure out how it can green its burgers, but it recently had a breakthrough. In late 2014, the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) – a consortium of beef industry stakeholders including retail and processing giants like McDonald's and Cargill, rancher associations and a handful of environmental nonprofits – published a set of principles and criteria defining sustainable beef production.

Not everyone, however, applauded the work. Two weeks after it was published, 23 NGOs responded with a co–signed letter condemning the effort as a "fundamentally flawed" attempt at greenwashing.


Mark Cook Launches Crowdfunding Campaign for a New Book on Raising Livestock

Dateline: 01/09/15, Source: Digital Journal

As an admirer of nature and a long–time advocate of intelligent environmentalism, Mark has cultivated a broad base of knowledge that has led him to develop a training manual on how to use livestock to improve and rebuild the environment. Most people think livestock are destructive to the environment. It's not the livestock that are the problem but the management of the livestock.


Marc seeks to change all that through his Kickstarter project to publish a book outlining multiple methods of raising livestock in a way that is profitable, sustainable, and environmentally sound. Up until now Mark has been holding seminars on this topic regularly but has found he's reaching small audiences and wishes to reach a much larger audience far faster to the benefit of everyone.

Bristol Academic to Head Rothamsted Research Farmland Site

Dateline: 01/16/15, Source: University of Bristol

Professor Michael Lee, an expert in ruminant nutrition in the School ofVeterinary Sciences, has been appointed Head of Site at North Wyke, Rothamsted Research's site for grassland systems research. North Wyke is the only UK scientific research base supporting 70% of the country's landscape (grazing farm land). Internationally, North Wyke positions the UK to play a significant role in global sustainable livestock production and food security.

Consumer Tracking Is Changing the Way People Shop — and View Food

Dateline: 01/16/15, Source: By Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Farmer

Some American and British companies are sending email promotions to people's cellphones as they walk into their stores. They also have mechanisms for gauging which products people look at the most.

"If the global roundtable (on sustainable beef) strategy is to be successful, it will be very successful when they put hard definitions on things for particular countries, and then they are evaluated by third parties," said Ellen Goddard an agricultural economist and professor at the University of Alberta. "We're going to end up with a system like that for beef production."

Beef Industry Works to Become More Environmentally Sustainable

Dateline: 01/17/15, Source: By Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald

Cherie Copithorne–Barnes is a fourth generation rancher, raising cattle on the family land west of Calgary on the banks of the scenic Jumping Pound Creek.

But unlike her great–grandfather — an Irish immigrant who founded the CL Ranch in 1887 — Copithorne–Barnes has to wear many other hats as well. Operating today's CL Ranch, a 1,200–head cattle operation just minutes from a city of 1 million people, means Copithorne–Barnes has to be up to speed on everything from water quality management to wildlife biodiversity to community and public relations. Watch 2.53–minute video HERE.

Can Sustainable Intensification Help Feed the World?

Dateline: 01/19/15, Source: The Cattle Site

Sustainable intensification is one way to feed our growing population, according to Dr. Frank Mitloehner, professor at University of California–Davis. Meeting growing food demands without depleting our environment is the definition of the term, Dr Mitloeohner told The CattleSite. Watch 4.22–minute video HERE.

More Robust Tracking Can Increase Livestock Profitability

Dateline: 01/20/15, Source: By Ted Power, Grain News

Livestock producers all over the world understand the positive impact tracking and sharing animal data can have on their bottom lines. They know due to recent "food scares," consumers want to know that the food they are going to feed their families is safe. They want to know where it comes from, how it was raised, and what chemicals or drugs were used to create it.

Not all farmers and ranchers are on board with the trend, however, and in some areas of Canada, cattle producers have been pushing back. Even though the use of RFID ear tags to identify cattle is mandatory, in some areas of Western Canada, where most of the cattle herd exists, compliance is only about 50 per cent.

Lifecycle Assessment: US Beef Sustainability Improved 5 Per Cent

Dateline: 01/20/15, Source: The Cattle Site

The beef industry was the first food system to benchmark its current status in a holistic manner that encompasses all three aspects of sustainability. The research included an evaluation of thousands of data points to quantify the industry's progress since 2005. Now, the beef industry can for the first time provide science–based answers to questions about its sustainability and how to improve.

"This comprehensive analysis will provide a roadmap for the journey toward a more sustainable beef industry," said NCBA Director of Sustainability Kim Stackhouse. "The US beef industry is one of the most complex biological, economic and social supply chains in the world. As such, measuring these complex, interrelated systems is difficult but critically important to the future stability and profitability of the industry." Watch 4.14–minute video HERE.

Bread & Butter: Niman Makes the Case for Sustainable Beef at Talk

Dateline: 01/20/15, Source: By Brooke Jackson,

Nicolette Hahn Niman, an environmental lawyer and vegetarian–turned–cattle rancher, will talk about her new book, "Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production." In it, she explains the problems caused by industrialized food production and the importance of proper livestock management for maintaining grassland ecosystems.

Paradigm Shift Required for Sustainable Food

Dateline: 01/22/15, Source: The Cattle Site

Efficient farming must take the place of input intensive agriculture in order to be sustainable, the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture heard last week. Feeding nine billion people by the year 2050 requires a "paradigm shift" to cope with the daunting task of producing more food while managing resources sustainably. According to Jose Graziano da Silva, Food and Agriculture Organisation director general, farming must stop a "business as usual approach". He told the Berlin audience that using feed for fuel is neither good nor terrible, but part of a solution.

Bid to Improve Sustainability of UK Beef Herd

Dateline: 01/14/15, Source: By Western Morning News

Funding for a £1.75 million selective breeding project to improve the sustainability and competitiveness of the UK beef industry has been won by EBLEX, AHDB's beef and lamb division. The four–year project will be carried out by EBLEX with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

Researchers Working to Reduce Methane Emissions from Cattle

Dateline: 01/17/15, Source: By Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald

The scientists, who work out of Agriculture and Agri–Food Canada's Lethbridge Research Centre, are trying to find ways to reduce methane emissions from cattle. Methane is a natural byproduct of a cow's digestive process, but it's also a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

The methane issue is one of the biggest challenges the beef industry faces as it works to improve its environmental performance, but Sean McGinn — one of the Lethbridge Research Centre scientists — is hopeful that he and his colleagues will be able to help. It's already been proven that what a cow eats can affect the animal's methane emissions. Now, McGinn and his colleagues are experimenting with different cattle diets — adding fats, adding oilseeds, improving forage quality — to see which is most effective.

Restored Forests Breathe Life Into Efforts Against Climate Change

Dateline: 12/23/14, Source: By Justin Gillis, NY Times

Over just a few decades in the mid–20th century, this small country chopped down a majority of its ancient forests. But after a huge conservation push and a wave of forest regrowth, trees now blanket more than half of Costa Rica.

Far to the south, the Amazon forest was once being quickly cleared to make way for farming, but Brazil has slowed the loss so much that it has done more than any other country to limit the emissions leading to global warming.

Financial Institutions Play Catch-Up in Deforestation Fight

Dateline: 01/23/15, Source: Institutional Investor

Last year was a big one in the effort to vanuish deforestation. Several major corporations pledged to source soft commodities exclusively from producers that can prove they're not linked to the destruction of forests, with an emphasis on the four good most often blamed for driving the problem: beef, palm oil, paper and pulp and soy.

Brazil's Soy Moratorium Dramatically Reduced Amazon Deforestation

Dateline: 01/23/15, Source: By Rhett A. Butler, Mongabay News

The moratorium on forest conversion established by Brazilian soy giants in 2006 dramatically reduce deforestation for soy expansion in the Amazon, and have been more effective in cutting forest destruction than the government's land use policy in the region, finds a study published today in the journal Science.

Mars and Wilmar Step Up Efforts to Tackle Deforestation

Dateline: 01/22/15, Source: Business Green

Mars today unveiled three new zero deforestation pledges, seeking to source only "sustainable" beef by the end of 2017 and 100 per cent traceable paper and pulp for packaging by the end of 2020. By the end of 2017, all of the soy Mars buys in Brazil will be certified by a third party verification system, the company added.

Our Members

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Members in the News

Why is McDonald's Passionate about Sustainable Beef?

Dateline: 01/16/15, Source: The Cattle Site

Francesca DeBiase, VP Strategic Sourcing, Sustainability at McDonald's, said buying verified sustainable beef by 2016 is one of McDonald's key commitments.

"We have made a commitment as McDonald's to buy sustainable beef from verified sources in 2016," she said. "We don't know how much we're going to buy, but we're going to set a goal in 2016 for 2020."

DeBiase said McDonald's vision is to source all of their food and products sustainably, but they are starting with six, with beef being the most important. Other areas of focus are fiber for packaging, fish, and palm oil. "[Sustainability] is a journey – there is no ending," she said. Watch 3:52–minute video interview HERE.

Cargill Expands Animal Nutrition Innovation Center

Dateline: 01/15/15, Source: The Cattle Site

Faced with volatile commodity markets and changing regulations and consumer needs, animal producers are operating in an increasingly complex world. To help them more quickly respond in this dynamic environment, Cargill has expanded and renovated its Global Animal Nutrition Innovation Center in Velddriel, The Netherlands.

Designed to serve dairy, poultry and swine customers, the Cargill Animal Nutrition Innovation Center includes new poultry nutrition research facilities, new guest viewing corridors and the collective knowhow of its Netherlands–based animal nutrition experts.

Savory Institute Announces Hub Candidates for 2015

Dateline: 01/16/15, Source: Nassau News Live

Savory Institute, an International U.S. based non–profit, announced today that it has nominated 9 new Hub Candidates for 2015. The candidates will be joining a prestigious existing group of 20 Savory Network Hubs already providing education and implementation support to land managers in their region on regenerative management practices. Altogether these organizations represent 16 countries on all 6 habitable continents.

Global Best Practice Guidelines for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Livestock Released

Source: SAI Platform

Collaboration between researchers around the world and the global food and drink industry has produced an overview of current best practice and emerging options for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from livestock.

The dairy and beef sectors have already made important progress on reducing emissions. While a steady growth in demand for all animal products has resulted in a 1.1% per year increase of emissions since 2000, the GHG emissions intensity of production has decreased by up to 76% (range 38–76%) for various livestock products between 1960 to the 2000.

Where Food Comes From, Inc. Names James Riva Vice President of Global Alliances

Dateline: 01/20/15, Source: Market Wired

Where Food Comes From, Inc. (d.b.a. IMI Global, Inc.) (OTCQB: WFCF), the most trusted resource for third–party verification of food production practices, today announced that former U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) executive James Riva has joined the Company as Vice President of Global Alliances.

"We are pleased to welcome James to Where Food Comes From," said Leann Saunders, president. In his new role with Where Food Comes From, James will leverage his experience to help us develop new business relationships and verification programs and to stay on the leading edge of the increasingly complex world of food labeling standards."

Zoetis Announces Partnership to Help Boost Value of Feeder Cattle

Dateline: 01/14/15, Source: Reputation Feeder Cattle

Zoetis Inc. has partnered with Verified Beef, LLC, to support Reputation Feeder Cattle™, a program for ranchers and cattle feeders that helps define feeder calf value by verifying industry–leading genetics and best practices.

Age– and source–verified cattle have been attractive to the export market at extra premiums. Reputation Feeder Cattle will continue adding value for niche and export markets in years to come.

"This raises the bar for how feeder cattle are represented in terms of genetics, health, handling and verification," said Jon Lowe, senior director and global head of genetics for Zoetis. "Producers need to be looking out for the best interest of the industry by verifying their best practices."

Global News

Plan Calls for Beef Checkoff Fee to Double

Dateline: 01/22/15, Source: By Peggy Lowe, Net Nebraska

Cattle producers may get a chance to vote on whether they want to double the increasingly controversial $1 beef checkoff charge. Under a new plan unveiled this week, an industry working group proposed raising the fee to $2 that each producer pays upon sale of an animal, but also set a referendum every five years.

"We've been at this for three solid years in trying to find some solutions to an enhancement, and I think really what we arrived at is something that should be palatable to the beef industry," said Scott Stuart, CEO of the National Livestock Producers Association.

No 'Beef Boom' Despite Downpour

Dateline: 01/19/15, Source: By Tim Binsted, Queensland Country Life

After the deluge in the red centre and healthy rains across broad swathes of parched pastoral land, veteran cattleman Ray Thieme thinks the stars are starting to align for the beef industry. In the past fortnight, Alice Springs has had a once–in–a–decade downpour and tracts of Australia's drought–stricken cattle country have received much–needed rains. Following the rains, beef prices have surged.

Breathing Room in Indo Quota: NTCA

Dateline: 01/15/15, Source: By Matthew Cawood, The Land AU

Indonesia is cutting back on imports of live cattle from Australia early in 2015, announcing that it will release permits for the import of 100,000 head in the first quarter.

That's about 33,000 less than the numbers shipped to Indonesia in Q1 2014, but at this stage the smaller allocation isn't bothering the northern cattle industry. After solid monsoon rains across the Northern Territory, sourcing cattle from flooded in stations will be an issue in coming weeks.

Beef Consumption Falls Below 60 kg Per Year

Dateline: 01/15/15, Source: Buenos Aires Herald

Argentina may be famous around the world for its beef but consumption of red meat keeps decreasing and has fallen below 60–kilograms per person per year, the eleventh lowest figure in the last century, according to the Ciccra beef industry chamber.

The figures, however, don't necesarilly mean that Argentines are eating less meat than they once did, considering that chicken, pork and fish consumption have all grown in the last few years from around 93 kilograms per person in 2009 to around 123 kilograms today, according to the latest estimates.

2015 Ohio Beef Cattle School begins on Jan. 27

Dateline: 01/15/15, Source: By John F. Grimes, Drovers CattleNetwork

The OSU Extension Beef Team has announced the details for the 2015 Ohio Beef Cattle School. The dates for the school are Tuesday, January 27 and continue on February 10 and February 24, 2015 and will start each evening at 7:00 p.m. The programs will address some of the most important issues currently facing Ohio's beef industry. Rapidly changing forces are constantly shaping the beef industry's landscape and successful producers need to stay abreast of changes to remain competitive.

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