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


Executive Director's Message

Time flies between editions of Connect, even more so if I have been out of the office for bit. We see some familiar topics returning again; PNAS has published an article on the mode of action of a methane inhibiting compound developed by DSM. The encouraging news there is that the compound may in fact be additive in effect to some other techniques to reduce enteric methane emissions. On the other hand, we have Amanda Radke squarely opposed to the Danish "Beef Tax" suggestion in BEEF Magazine.

While I agree with her sentiments, I can only repeat what I have previously mentioned on the subject of social license; you cannot win over people who are not listening, and you will not win over people if you simply tell them they are wrong. On the subject of Social License, please be sure to call into this month's board meeting, as we will have Katherine Teh–White from FutureEye presenting to us on Social License during the call.

We should not be surprised to see Tim Searchinger of WRI continuing to publish against beef; there is a misunderstanding of food production systems amongst such organisations that needs to be addressed, and it is exactly that they are systems, not isolated enterprises. A lack of systems thinking has led to the belief that simply cutting beef in the diets of a relatively niche population will somehow impact on the sustainability of diets and food production worldwide. We already know that the highest GHG emissions come from extensive systems with highly indigestible diets and that these systems exist where there is very little potential for growing crops, predominantly in the developing countries of Africa and Asia.

We need to evolve such systems to be more sustainable, not abandon producing food where it is most needed. The assumption that Short Term Climate Pollutants (STCPs) such as methane have a direct equivalence to cumulative pollutants such as CO2 is also central to his hypothesis, even though that has been questioned within IPCC and elsewhere (see Nature article).

I'll keep you posted on meetings I am attending on these topics in the coming weeks.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

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


See All Members

Compound Could Reduce Methane Emissions from Cattle  
John Maday, Bovine Veterinarian | May 04, 2016
An international team of researchers have demonstrated that feeding a compound known as 3–nitrooxypropanol (3–NOP) could reduce ruminant methane emissions without any apparent negative effects. Their report, titled "Mode of action uncovered for the specific reduction of methane emissions from ruminants by the small molecule 3–nitrooxypropanol," is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), also notes that the additive could reduce the volume of feed energy currently lost to methane emissions, instead channeling that energy to growth.

Denmark Explores Meat Tax to Help the Planet
Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine | May 03, 2016
The idea that beef is a driving force behind climate change(if you believe Al Gore and think climate change is real anyway) is ridiculous and has been further perpetuated by a false study released in 2006 by the United Nations called "Livestock's Long Shadow," which said that livestock production contributes to 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions. According to University of California, Davis, Professor Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., "In the U.S., the entire livestock and feed sector contributes 4.2% to the U.S. total carbon footprint.

Despite the efforts the industry has made to debunk these myths, it seems the misconception is here to say. Heck, even our U.S. government in 2015 wanted to make changes to our dietary guidelines based on biased information about meat production and the environment. While the industry was able to curtail that from completely happening, it looks like other governments didn't get the memo.

According to an Independent article written by Adam Withal, "Denmark is considering proposals to introduce a tax on red meat, after a government think tank came to the conclusion that 'climate change is an ethical problem.'

"The Danish Council of Ethics recommended an initial tax on beef, with a view to extending the regulation to all red meats in future. It said that in the long term, the tax should apply to all foods at varying levels depending on climate impact."

Livestock's Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction
Frank Mitloehner, AFIA
A white paper, defining the role animal agriculture and other sectors of society play in their respective contribution of greenhouse gases, as the societal concerns grow to seek a sustainable global future.

"One argument often made is U.S. livestock GHG emissions from cows, pigs, sheep and chickens are comparable to all transportation sectors from sources such as cars, trucks, planes, trains, etc. The argument suggests the solution of limiting meat consumption, starting with "Meatless Mondays," which will show a significant impact on total emissions. When divorcing political fiction from scientific facts around the quantification of GHG from all sectors of society, one finds a different picture. Leading scientists throughout the U.S., as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA1 ) have quantified the impacts of livestock production in the U.S., which accounts for 4.2%2 of all GHG emissions, very far from the 18% to 51% range that advocates often cite. Comparing the 4.2% GHG contribution from livestock to the 27% from the transportation sector, or 31% from the energy sector in the U.S. brings all contributions to GHG into perspective.

Rightfully so, the attention at COP21 was focused on the combined sectors consuming fossil fuels, as they contribute more than half of all GHG in the U.S.

USDA Awards $16 Million for Research into Sustainable Crop and Livestock Production Methods
USDA Press Release | May 03, 2016
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded $16.5 million in grants to support research into methods for boosting agriculture productivity and ensuring food security in the face of pests, diseases and a changing climate. In addition, USDA announced that it is seeking applications for the next round of projects, which will focus on pollinator health and plant and animal phenomics. The grants are made available through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Study Finds Eating Less Beef Crucial To More Sustainable Future
Ruby Shao, The Daily Princetonian | May 05, 2016
Eating less beef is essential to ensuring a sustainable food supply in the coming decades, according to an April 20 working paper whose co–authors include University affiliates Timothy Searchinger and Xin Zhang.

"When you count the land use implications of meat diets, and above all beef, the greenhouse gas emissions are much, much, much higher than vegetarian or more vegetable–oriented diets," said Searchinger, a research scholar in the Wilson School. Searchinger serves as a senior fellow at the World Resources Institute, the global research organization that released the report.

Sustainable Win/Win for Beef  
Laura Conaway, High Plains Journal | May 05, 2016
Change often comes with a price, so when it's intentional, outcome benefits should always outweigh costs.

That part of being "sustainable" certainly applies to ongoing efforts to reduce the beef system's environmental impact. Research at Washington State University led by animal scientist Robin White explored management practices to help in that quest while increasing profits for cattlemen. She continues that work today at Virginia Tech. The effort began with the premise that reducing the carbon footprint is an incomplete goal.

"If we're going to ask people to take steps to lessen the environmental impact of their operations, we certainly hope we can show that those steps will improve their efficiency and profitability," White said.
View More Stories

New Immunity–Booster from Elanco Reduces Dairy Mastitis Risk
John Vogel, Farm Futures | May 03, 2016
Human medicine has products touted to boost immune responses to diseases such as cancer. Now, the dairy industry has its first non–antibiotic product that boosts immune system response against mastitis. As Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco Animal Health, puts it: "This is a new technology door to help all sizes of dairies."

Imrestor, the first of its kind modified bovine granulocyte protein called pegbovigrastim, has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It's labeled as a two–dose injectable for reducing incidence of clinical mastitis during the first 30 days of lactation – as a preventive, not a treatment.

It's a protein that boosts the dairy cow's natural immune system during the critical time around calving, when she's most vulnerable, explains Dr. Paul Rapnicki, Elanco Animal Health technical advisor. It's not specific to gram–negative or gram–positive bacteria.

Senate's Red Meat Industry Recommendations Need Fine–Tuning: Cattle Council
SBy James Nason, BEEF Central | May 05, 2016
Cattle Council of Australia has warned recommendations made in the interim Senate report into the red meat processing sector need fine–tuning. Among the recommendations was for Meat & Livestock Australia, in co–operation with the livestock and red meat industry, to establish a national price disclosure and reporting system.

Information Sharing Project Shows Potential Value for Canadian Beef Producers
Angela Lovell, The Cattle Site | May 10, 2016
A recent Canadian project to share information from beef carcass data revealed that cattle from an elite breeding programmes were worth $219 a head more than average cattle. The elite calves were bred by Calgary based Beefbooster, a company which uses production data and advanced genomics technology to select and breed genetically superior, hybrid bulls. McDonald's Canada partly funded the Information Sharing Initiative as part of its Sustainable Beef Pilot programme.The aim of the project was to evaluate whether sharing this data could have value to cow/calf producers and the Canadian beef industry.

Dear Earls: Your Beef Dilemma Is Already Solved
Hurbert Lau, Troy Media | May 11, 2016
Congratulations on your renewed commitment to sourcing beef from here at home. Canada's beef–eaters and producers applaud you. The good news is that there is already plenty of beef in Canada to meet your humane treatment requirements. (It's actually illegal to raise cattle any other way.) The challenge, as you've discovered, is in tracking the history of care from Canadian farms to your customers' forks.

That's where BIXS comes in. BIXS is a kind of Facebook for cows. We provide a system for you to connect with ranchers based on the characteristics you're looking for, and the kind of cattle the rancher has available. And here's the best part: this process is available right now.

How does BIXS work? Think of a typical Canadian cattle producer who does all the right things. He cares for his cattle ethically and humanely, around the clock, every day of the week. He details the history of care until the animal goes to auction. Then, he posts that history on BIXS. Everyone else along the chain of custody (auction markets, feedlots, and packers) can access that data, and provide supplemental information about production practices while in their custody. Because we can track this chain of custody and care – and verify it as an independent third party – we can help restaurants like Earls provide reliable information to their customers about their burgers and steaks.

You win. The producer wins. And the consumer wins.

Cooperative Extension Hosts Forum on Holistic Land Management  
Tiffany Kozsan, Nevada Today | May 11, 2016
In many instances, agricultural land management for small–acreage landowners is a painstaking, yet rewarding hobby. The irrigation water needs to be changed, the weeds need to be controlled, the fence needs to be repaired, or the grazing animals need to be rotated to a new piece of pasture. The work never ends. Sometimes, landowners struggle balancing this "labor of love" with their day jobs, their families, their long–term goals and the community's well–being.

To help land management hobbyists create an all–encompassing, balanced lifestyle, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension presents "Holistic Management: the Savory Institute Approach," 6 to 8 p.m., May 31 at the CVIC Hall, 1604 Esmeralda Ave. in Minden.

"This is a systems thinking approach that's been called 'a grazing plan for humans' and a process of decision–making and planning to understand and work with nature," said Extension Educator Steve Lewis, who is coordinating the forum. "Best known as the Savory Method or Holistic Resource Management, this approach has resulted in more informed decisions that are balanced on social, environmental and financial considerations."

The forum is part of the Agriculture Innovation Forum Series being presented by Cooperative Extension this year, and will feature Savory Institute Instructor Spencer Smith from Fort Bidwell, Calif.
View More Stories

Editorial: Growing Our Beef Industry  
Calgary Herald | May 11, 2016
There's more good news than simply Earls' pledge to look for Canadian supplies that can meet its specifications — a promise we expect to see fulfilled. On Tuesday, the industry announced a national research strategy aimed at reducing the use of antibiotics and developing alternatives.

"There's no doubt antimicrobial resistance, use and their alternatives are a high priority in terms of policy, research and regulations," says Tim Oleksyn, chairman of the Beef Cattle Research Council, which is among the groups working on the project.

Canadian producers who use growth hormones or antibiotics must already follow strict rules laid out by Health Canada

TTIP – A Nail In The Coffin For EU Food Producers?  
David Burrows, Food Navigator | April 29, 2016
The big winners of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal will be the corporate food giants and US factory farms with European producers set to lose the most, according to Friends of the Earth. "Entire sectors are at risk as cheaper imports flood the market," it says. The NGO has conducted new research which forecasts that the EU–US trade deal could "spell disaster" for producers, with knock–on impacts for the European food industry.

Most at risk is perhaps the beef sector, but the majority of EU farmers are predicted to lose out. The US Department of Agriculture is predicting falls in the price paid to European farmers in every food category.

Suckler Sector Faces Massive Challenges to Hit Beef Targets  
Martin Ryan, Irish Independent | March 5, 2016
Thousands of suckler farmers will have to change their breeding management practices to hit the targets set out by the Beef Data and Genomics Programme and Food Wise 2025. With less than one in four beef calves being born to AI sires – and the average suckler herd calving interval running six weeks over target – the scale of the challenge facing the sector has been identified by Teagasc experts in a Department of Agriculture funded beef cow fertility programme.

Mercosur: European Commission Removes Beef from Trade Proposal  
Joel Richards, CCTV–America | May 11, 2016
In a new twist in trade talks between the EU and the South American trade bloc known as Mercosur, the European Commission has removed beef from the proposal. The deal was expected to include a more preferential tariff plan for beef imports coming from the member countries. The European Union announced there will be no beef on the menu this week when it sits down with Mercosur to continue talks over a free trade agreement. In South America, there had been hopes of broadening markets for one of this region's prime exports.

Indian Court Relaxes Maharashtra Beef Ban  
Kenan Machado, The Wall Street Journal | May 6, 2016
A Mumbai court on Friday ruled that possessing beef meat isn't illegal in the state of Maharashtra, relaxing a law that also bans the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks locally.

Cows are considered sacred by Hindus, and right–wing Hindu political parties have made banning their slaughter and the consumption of beef an election issue.

In 2015, the state government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has Hindu nationalist roots, asked the country's President to sign off on changes to the law which was passed at a state level in 1976. The amendments, which came into effect in March last year, expanded the ban to bull and bullock slaughter and also made the sale and possession of any beef illegal.

Friday's court order allows the possession of beef in Maharashtra but only if it is imported from outside the state.

Beef Industry Research Project Will Look for Alternatives to Antibiotic Use
Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald | May 20, 2016
The Canadian beef industry unveiled a national research strategy this week in an effort to do its part in the fight against antibiotic–resistant superbugs.

The strategy, released by the Beef Cattle Research Council — the industry–led funding agency that invests producer checkoff dollars — acknowledges that the beef industry is under growing pressure to reduce its use of antibiotics. Science has proven that repeated exposure to an antibiotic can lead bacteria to become resistant to that drug, and around the globe, antibiotic–resistant infections in humans are on the rise. Many health experts believe the misuse of these drugs — in human medicine as well as in agriculture — is to blame.

Reynold Bergen — science director for the Beef Cattle Research Council — said when it comes to the problem of antibiotic resistance, the beef industry has skin in the game. No veterinarian or cattle producer wants the drugs that are so effective in treating animal disease to lose their power.

"We realize if we overuse these things (antibiotic drugs), they're not going to work anymore," Bergen said. "We need to ensure that these things keep working in veterinary medicine."
View More Stories
Administrative Offices:
13570 Meadowgrass Drive, Suite 201
Colorado Springs, CO 80921 USA
Phone: 1-719-355-2935
Fax: 1-719-538-8847
Email: admin@grsbeef.org
Copyright © 2016 Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. All rights reserved.
You are receiving this message as a benefit of membership to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef