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


Board of Directors Meeting
April 18-20, 2016
DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport - Rosemont
Chicago, IL 
Visit the event website for meeting schedule and additional information.

Executive Director's Message

The Washington Post has run a series of linked articles (see e.g. the profound planetary consequences of eating less meat) on the negative impact of meat consumption on the environment. This follows on from my last introduction to Connect. These articles are now appearing in most mainstream publications, and now form the dominant discourse as far as the public is concerned. Remember that most people do not go far to look for a second opinion, if at all, and that people read what confirms their own beliefs.

There are even industry publications trying to be positive that do not necessarily help.Take the story below which celebrates the fact that in Italy it ‘only’ takes 15,500 litres of water to produce one kg of beef. This is presented as good because the figure is lower than the international average. However, for the general public this figure appears astronomical if they look up a vegetable protein like kidney beans (358 litres/kg), and furthermore the general public has no understanding of how the figure is derived - why is the Italian figure lower? The article does not explain.

Of course production of all food has impacts, and nobody denies that cows' burps contain methane. There are things that we can do to influence the amount emitted (see Preston and Leng article), and there are reasons why a direct comparison with fossil emissions is simply wrong - fossil emissions introduce carbon which was locked up millions of years ago into the system compared to cows that are circulating carbon from plants.

However, we can do none of those things with a public that is not listening, and in order to start a dialogue we need to meet the public’s concerns head on.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

Board of Directors Meeting
April 18-20, 2016
DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport - Rosemont
Chicago, IL
On Tuesday, April 19, there will be video presentations from Simon Usher with Bonsucro who will be speaking about their strategic plan development process. Also presenting will be Katherine Teh-White with Futureye. She will be speaking on social license and some of her experiences with industries including the live cattle export industry from Australia.

Global Conference on Sustainable Beef
October 4-7, 2016
Banff, Alberta

 Name: John Carter
 Title: Founder/President
 Company: Aliança da Terra
 Q: How long have you been connected to the cattle industry?

A: I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, in a family that was primarily in the oil business. Our main ranch was sold when I was a child, but my dad held on to a small piece of ground south of San Antonio that my brother took over. Ten years younger than him, I was his side kick, and I spent most of my youth working for him digging post holes, flood irrigating pasture and getting kicked working calves. I’ve been in the cattle industry professionally since 1996 when my wife and I moved from Texas to Brazil to manage a ranch in Mato Grosso with roughly 5,000 head of cattle.

Q: What does sustainability mean to you?

A . It is easier to define what sustainability does not mean. Sustainability is not about hormones, antibiotics, labor laws, energy consumption, etc. These issues are dealt with through other means even though they are used as chaff to divert focus from the real issue. Sustainability boils down to how are we going to feed a growing population on limited resources without destroying the remaining wild areas of our planet. That translates into, “who is going to pay for those future opportunity costs?”

If we do not figure that out, then we will lose the world’s last tracts of wilderness, such as the Amazon. Forcing landowners to abide by top down “sustainable” certification systems may be the answer for companies that need a piece of paper to move product and for environmental groups that need marketing contracts, but these “solutions” certainly don’t come close to meeting the real needs of farmers and ranchers tasked with the heavy burden of private lands conservation. We have to find a way to strike a balance between production and private lands conservation by creating a value-add for the producer.

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Cattlemen’s Beef Board
The Cattlemen's Beef Promotion And Research Board, usually referred to as the Cattlemen's Beef Board or CBB, consists of 100 members, including domestic beef, dairy and veal producers, as well as importers of beef and beef products in the United States.

Biochar Reduces Enteric Methane
R A Leng, T R Preston and Sangkhom Inthapanya, Livetstock Research for Rural Development | March, 2016
Last november I reported on a proprietary inhibitor that decreased enteric emissions by 30%. (Hristov et al). In looking into this subject further I found earlier work by well known animal nutritionists Preston and Leng who had found a relatively simple, non proprietary method of decreasing enteric emissions by up to 41%, with a concomitant 25% increase in live weight gain. See their trial here.

The Invisible Catastrophe
Nathaniel Rich, The New York Times Magazine | March 31, 2016
Over the course of four months, 97,100 metric tons of methane quietly leaked out of a single well into California's sky. Scientists and residents are still trying to figure out just how much damage was done.

Irish Livestock Sector Must Work Towards a Secure And Sustainable Food System
Niall Browne, Irish Examiner | March 21, 2016
Given the proportion of Irish emissions related to agriculture, as an industry we can expect further challenge as part of the debate on emissions mitigation, and rightly so. Due to mega trends of population growth and climate change, countries will have to examine ways of producing foods that are climate resilient, nutrient dense and which optimise the use of renewable resources. Grass–based Irish livestock production will play a significant role in providing a robust and sustainable food production model for consumers.

New Green Challenge: How to Grow More Food on Less Land 
Richard Conniff, Environment 360 | March 21, 2016
For researchers trying to figure how to feed a world of 10 billion people later in this century, the great objective over the past decade has been to achieve what they call "sustainable intensification." It's an awkward term, not least because of conventional agricultural intensification's notorious record of wasting water, overusing fertilizers and pesticides, and polluting habitats. But the ambition this time is different, proponents say: To figure out almost overnight how to grow the most food on the least land and with the minimal environmental impact. The alternative, they say, is to continue plowing under what's left of the natural world. Or face food shortages and political unrest. .

2018 Farm Bill: Integrate CSP with the Larger Sustainability Movement
Bruce Knight, AgriPulse | March 2016
In our ongoing discussion of the next farm bill, I want us to consider carefully the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which has become the largest USDA conservation program for private working lands.

Of immediate interest, of course, is the 2016 sign up, continuing through March 31. NRCS is making available $150 million through CSP this year, which is expected to bring an additional 10 million acres to the CSP rolls with a goal of improving soil and air quality, increasing water quality and enhancing wildlife habitats.

Italy in Front on Beef Water Use
Oscar Rousseau, GlobalMeat News | March 22, 2016
Beef production in Italy is economical when it comes to water consumption and is below the international average for water use, according to the Italian meat body Carni Sostenibili.

Grazing Can Be a Win For Water Quality, Climate Change, And Farm Econom
Kelly O'Neill, Landscapes for People, Food and Nature | March 22, 2016
The Chesapeake Bay watershed spans over 64,000 square miles and is home to 87,000 farms, many of which produce livestock. The byproduct of this livestock production is manure, both a potential pollutant (if not carefully managed) and a resource to fertilize crops. Without pollution controls, nutrients not used by crops may volatilize into the air, leach into ground water, or run off during rainfalls. The latter leads to the pollution of rivers and streams, which ultimately deposits the polluted water into the Chesapeake Bay. Excessive amounts of both nitrogen and phosphorus feed algae, whose growth and decomposition impair the health of the bay.
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10 Years of Sustainable Beef Production In The Pantanal
WWF.org | January 28, 2016
The initiated a pioneer work with sustainable livestock in Pantanal is the theme of the publication "10 years of sustainable beef production in the Pantanal – The story of a project that brings together the beef value chain and WWf–Brasil in an effort to promote the sustainable development of the biome". It is work was implemented from 2003 to 2014 and show how the work was carried. It is a summary of work and presents discussions concerning the criteria of activity development in every link that builds its chain, as well as testimonies of the people who participated in the construction of this work. Read HERE.

VBP Program Being Expanded  
Alberta Farmer | March 21, 2016
The Verified Beef Production (VBP) program is being expanded to VBP Plus. The new version of the on–farm food safety program will use third–party audits of production practices and include modules for biosecurity, animal care, and environmental stewardship. The expanded program will allow producers to demonstrate that Canadian beef is being "produced in systems that prioritize animal welfare and the environment, attributes that consumers are increasingly demanding," the Canadian Cattlemen's Association said in a release

Cargill, WRI Partner to Manage Forests, Water Risk across Supply Chains
Jessica Lyons Hardcastle, Environmental Leader | March 21, 2016
Cargill and the World Resources Institute (WRI) are teaming up to work across value chains to better manage deforestation and water risk. Under the 2–year partnership, Cargill will use WRI's agriculturaltools — maps, analytics and expertise — to improve its environmental management while WRI will benefit from Cargill's global insights from working in food and agriculture in 70 countries around the world. Cargill is joining WRI's Corporate Consultative Group, the Global Forest Watch Partnership to address deforestation and the Aqueduct Alliance to address water risk.

Industry Veteran Named To Head NCBA
Burt Rutherford, BEEF Magazine | March 22, 2016
This week, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) named longtime staffer Kendal Frazier as the organization's new chief executive officer. Frazier has been serving as interim CEO for the past 10 months. He first joined the NCBA staff in 1985 in its communications department after working for the Kansas Livestock Association as director of communications.

Going National with Verified Sustainable Beef  
Debbie Furber, Canadian Cattlemen | March 23, 2016
As McDonald's verified sustainable beef pilot heads to the finish line this April, the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) is stepping out with initiatives that have been in the works since it was formally established in early 2014. Anticipate hearing lots more from this group in the months ahead with the national verified sustainable beef framework and the national beef sustainability assessment projects on track to be finalized by the end of the year.

Forbes Names Zoetis One of America's Best Employers
Business Wire | March 23, 2016
Zoetis Inc. (NYSE:ZTS), the global leader in animal health, today announced that it has been named one of America's Best Midsize Employers in 2016 by Forbes Magazine. Zoetis is the only pharmaceutical company focused solely on animal health to make the list, and is ranked #81 out of 250 midsize companies.

"This honor is a terrific recognition of the workplace, culture and brand we have built at Zoetis since becoming an independent company in 2013," said Roxanne Lagano, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Zoetis. "Over the past three years, we have tried to create a supportive and flexible culture based on our colleagues living our Core Beliefs. That culture has contributed to the success and growth of our company, and we are especially proud that our colleagues and others are recommending Zoetis as a great employer."

New Animal Use Only Antibiotic Helps Address Antibiotic Resistance
Dr. Peter Provis, Farmscape | March 29, 2016
The Veterinary Technical Consultant for Swine with Elanco Animal Health Canada says a new antibiotic licensed for animal use only helps address concerns related to antibiotic resistance. Elanco Animal Health has unveiled a new product designed to reduce the incidence and severity of diarrhea caused by E. Coli in weaned pigs. Dr. Peter Provis, the Veterinary Technical Consultant for Swine with Elanco Animal Health Canada, says Surmax 200 was developed as an animal use only antibiotic and belongs to a family of antibiotics that has not been used in human medicine.

Database Follows the Money to the Packing Plant  
Alexis Keinlen, Alberta Farmer | March 30, 2016
Sharing data through the entire beef chain adds value that can translate to economic gains — although how much of that might go to cattle producers is a question yet to be answered. McDonald's Canada, Beefbooster, and BIXSco — the company now running the Beef InfoXchange System — recently collaborated with Livestock Gentec to analyze two million records of carcass data. The analysis found calves sired by Beefbooster Terminal Cross bulls were worth $219 more than the average value of calves processed by packing plants from 2012 to 2014.

Water Conservation Goal Announced with Third Segment of Tyson Foods' Sustainability Report
Tyson Foods Inc | March 31, 2016
Tyson Foods (NYSE:TSN) officials today announced the expansion of the company's ongoing water conservation efforts. Water is a key component of food production since it's essential to keeping food safe for consumers. The announcement accompanies the release of the third installment of the company's 2015 Sustainability Report, which includes information about its environmental stewardship.

"We're setting a 12 percent water reduction goal by the end of 2020 for our direct operations and will talk with our supply chain, such as the independent farmers who grow animals for our company, about additional efforts they can make to conserve water," said Dr. Christine Daugherty, vice president of sustainable food production. "Water conservation has been an important area of focus for Tyson Foods for many years. Water is a precious, finite resource and we need to manage it responsibly from farm to finished product."

Cattle Health – Your Opinion Needed in NAHMS Survey
Jamie Johansen, Animal AgWired | March 21, 2016
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) asks their members to participate in USDA's National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) beef industry cow–calf study in 2017. In order to craft the most informative survey possible, and to derive data that will be most beneficial to the cattle industry, NAHMS is asking producers to take a preliminary survey by answering 10 short questions to aid in determining the larger cow–calf study objectives. Access survey HERE.

Solidaridad East Africa's Pioneering Livestock Project in Kenya (PDF)
Cattle forms an important part of the African rural landscape and pastoralists are being squeezed into smaller areas by formalisation of land tenure and urbanisation. Overgrazing caused by the reduced seasonal movements and changing climate patterns with poor access to water are some of the largest problems. This phenomenon often leads to impoverishment y. The population of both beef and dairy cattle in Kenya exceeds 13 million head and is growing, with 90% of beef cattle in Kenya in the hands of small–scale subsistence farmers and pastoralists. This project sought to enable small–scale pastoralist farmers to connect to the rapidly growing market while developing sustainable systems.

Sustainable Cattle in Practice (PDF)
The Solidaridad / GTPS programme 'Sustainable Cattle in Practice" has worked since 2012 on increasing the institutional capacity of GTPS and on the application and dissemination of good management practices in different regions of Brazil, to test and improve them and to develop tools for their replication. The Group began with seven projects for demonstration units developed across five strategic, beef producing states (Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rondonia and Bahia). The 7 different pilots were spread across a wide variety of social contexts and landscapes in the Cerrado, Pantanal and Amazon biomes, providing a rich testing experience for GTPS tools and mechanisms.
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Pink Slimed: The Beef Industry Learns the Importance Of Social Media Literacy  
Kristin Runge, Wisconsin Public Radio | March 23, 2016
This is a cautionary tale about the importance of social media literacy, involving a company with a limited online profile, a hot–button issue, and a contingent of interested citizens with active social media accounts. On March 7, 2012, ABC World News Report aired the first in a series of stories on lean, finely textured beef, asserting that 70 percent of ground beef sold in United States stores contained "(pink slime) beef trimmings...once used only in dog food." What happened next caught the beef industry off guard. The editors of Meating Place, an industry magazine, described online reaction as "a social media frenzy."

Bots Insists on Shooting Zim Strays
Chronicle | March 25, 2016
The Botswana government has imposed a shoot to kill order on Zimbabwean cattle that stray across the border as a way of tightening disease control, especially Foot and Mouth Disease, which frequently breaks out along the border.

Iowa's Ag Industry Urging Farmers to Save Money While Upping Water, Soil Quality  
Jim Offner, Cedar Valley Business | March 25, 2016
Farmers are investing in two prime ingredients of their business success: water and soil. As that happens, and programs like the Iowa Water Quality Initiative and the Iowa State University–developed nutrient reduction strategy gain critical mass, one question pertinent to every farm's bottom line is beginning to replace another. Instead of wondering if they can afford to invest in cover crops or new tilling methods, farmers are beginning to wonder if they can afford not to.

Coveney Says He Has Raised Irish Concerns Over Possible Mercosur Trade Deal
Ciaran Moran, AgriLand | March 27, 2016
The Minster for Agriculture, Simon Coveney has said that he has repeatedly raised Irish concerns at EU level in relation to the potentially serious impact that a Mercosur deal would have on the Irish and EU agriculture sector and, in particular, on the beef sector. Responding to questioning on the issue in the Dail this week, he said the Commission's own analysis of the worst case scenario would see production levels drop by some 150,000t, with the producer price for beef falling by as much as 8%.

Beef Producers Can't Swallow Linking of Red Meat, Cancer
Amy Palser, Hastings Tribune | March 27, 2016
Thank goodness Nebraskans have good common sense, Diane Karr says. The Blue Hill resident, who owns a cow–calf operation with her husband, Mike, was a little concerned when the World Health Organization announced last fall that red meat "probably" caused cancer. After all, the beef cattle industry is the state's single largest industry. Nebraska ranks second in total number of cattle behind Texas, and first in number of cattle in feedlots. The WHO's announcement could have been detrimental to beef producers like the Karrs, but in the end there seemed to be little to no fallout, save for a bevy of initial media attention.

Get Ready For a Five–Year Revolution of the Northern Australian Beef Production Model
Dr. Ross Ainsworth, BEEF Central | March 29, 2016
By 2021, the Australian beef industry will be a very different creature than the one we have been used to for the last 40 years, suggests Dr Ross Ainsworth.

Beef Demand Increases, Producers Stand To Benefit
Carolyn Heneghan, FoodDive | March 28, 2016
Chicken may have overtaken beef in the past few decades as consumers took stock of health and economic concerns, but the beef industry is bouncing back. USDA data predicts that Americans will eat 54.3 pounds of red meat this year, a nearly half–pound increase over 2015. That's the first increase in red meat consumption in the U.S. since 2006.

South American Beef Exports to Rise In 2016 – Rabobank
Amy Forde, AgriLand | March 31, 2016
Exports of beef from South America are toincrease by 11% in 2016, according to the latest Rabobank Beef Quarterly. Currency values, improved access to importing countries and increased availability of beef, are all factors Rabobank has attributed to the rise. Angus Gidley–Baird, Senior Animal Protein Analyst at Rabobank said that Brazil, the largest Latin American beef producer, is expected to see reduced local consumption and gains in export access. This will lead to more exports, the Animal Protein Analyst said.

Global 'Currency War' Had a Big Impact On the World's Biggest Beef Exporters  
Sean Cummins, AgriLand | March 31, 2016
Beef exports from Brazil and Australia – two of the top three beef producers in the world– recorded a mixed performance during 2015, according to the AHDB. The existence of a global currency war had an effect on export volumes of Brazilian beef, whichdropped by 12% last year, figures from the AHDB show. The fall in Brazilian beef exports coincided with a reduction in beef production, as Brazilian farmers reduced supplies to match falling demand.

Farmers and Producers Not Ready for Big Antibiotic Changes in 2016
Maryn McKenna, The Plate | January 21, 2016
The most significant changes in U.S. food–animal production in decades are coming by the end of this year, and farmers and producers aren't prepared. That's the warning of the nonpartisan Farm Foundation, based in Oak Brook, Ill., in a report called Stewardship of Antimicrobial Drug Use in Food–Producing Animals, released Wednesday morning. The changes will make giving animals low doses of antibiotics to promote growth illegal, and new federal rules will require large–animal veterinarians to start approving antibiotic use. And a shortage of these veterinarians may make implementing the new changes even more challenging, Farm Foundation says.

Better Grassland Care Needed to Satisfy Meat Demand
Sci Dev Net | March 29, 2016
Overgrazing and poor soil management are depriving grasslands of essential nutrients such as phosphorus, a study warns. As the demand for meat and dairy grows in developing countries, grasslands need better management to produce enough animal feed such as fresh grass and hay, the researchers found. The study focuses on phosphorus, a soil nutrient that, along with nitrogen and potassium, is essential for grass growth. The researchers estimate that the amount of phosphorus added to the soil would need to rise fourfold by 2050 — for example by applying fertilisers — to grow sufficient grass on existing grassland.
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