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


Executive Director's Message

Many of us remember the publication of Livestock's Long Shadow back in 2006; the repercussions of that FAO report are still being felt throughout the livestock sector today. Ten years later and the Livestock Global Alliance is being launched, a group of international organisations including the FAO with the World Bank, IFAD, ILRI and OIE.

This alliance intends to bring a very different message to the world, and I believe a much more constructive one if they succeed in their intentions. Livestock industries, from small–scale and backyard poultry through to highly intensive confined operations employ over 1,300,000,000 people around the world half of whom are poor farmers in developing countries, and yet the sector receives less than 3% of official development assistance. This means that a highly important sector in terms of livelihoods, land and water use and impacts is being starved of the funds it needs to adapt, innovate and evolve. Livestock's Long Shadow unleashed a storm of criticism of the sector, but no funds to support change, it did not even use the leverage it could have done to help direct massive private sector investments in livestock in more sustainable directions.

The launch of the Livestock Global Alliance may well be long overdue, but let us hope that it makes up for lost time in delivering the support needed in developing countries to close the efficiency gap and improve sustainability where it is most needed, and where demand for animal protein is growing fastest.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

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


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Welcome to the Table...
Coyote Creek Angus
Dateline: June 2016 | Constituency: Producer
Jeff and Erika Murphy own and operate Coyote Creek Angus, a registered Angus ranch near Steamboat Springs, CO. They breed 120 cows annually, sell bulls and heifers to mountain ranches, and specialize in PAP tested cattle that can run at high elevation. The Murphys apply holistic principles to their operation especially around grazing, pasture management, and during calving. They host students and guests at the ranch to educate them on the ideals of family ranching, where food comes from, and land stewardship.

Global Conference on Sustainable Beef Keynote Speaker Announced
GRSB News Release | June 13, 2016
Dr. David Hughes, Emeritus Professor of Food Marketing at Imperial College London, has been named Keynote Speaker for the 2016 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef. Dr. Hughes is a much sought–after speaker on a wide variety of global food industry topics, including retail and consumer trends. He also serves as a consultant to food and beverage companies worldwide to assist them in management training, strategy, and leadership level decision making.

"Dr. Hughes is the perfect professional to set the tone for the 2016 Global Conference," said Dennis Laycraft, president the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), the hosting organization. "He brings a perspective and experience of global food systems and the changing consumer environment that is a rare find. What he shares with us will be immeasurably important to every participant."

The Global Conference, to be held October 4–7 at the Fairmont Hotel in Banff Springs, Alberta, Canada, brings together beef value chain stakeholders and others from across the globe who are committed to making beef production more sustainable. In addition to seminars and moderator–led discussion groups, recent industry research will be presented. Participants will also have the opportunity to see sustainability at work through special tours arranged by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

The Conference will also feature several sessions created to be highly interactive and focused on work being done in various regions of the world in myriad areas of beef sustainability. In 2014, GRSB adopted a set of five core principles to define global sustainable beef including natural resources; people & the community; animal health & welfare; food; and efficiency & innovation. These principles will be at the center of discussions of future efforts to advance sustainable practices globally in the production, processing, and merchandising of beef.

Ruaraidh (Rory) Petre, GRSB's executive director, added, "There is significant work being done by the regional roundtables, and the Global Conference will showcase these efforts to a global audience. Using GRSB's definition with its principles and criteria as a foundation, they are doing the hard work of refining it with metrics and indicators relevant to their regions. This way we learn from each other and get a more tailored solution for everyone."

The membership of GRSB spans five constituency groups: beef producers & producer organizations; civil societies (non–governmental organizations); retailers; processors and commerce; as well as the regional beef roundtables from around the world. GRSB also provides the ability for observers to be a part of all functions.

"The diversity of the GRSB membership is truly its strength since the roundtable structure ensures buy in from all partners and that they are all part of the solution as the global beef industry commits to tackling sustainability challenges," said Petre.

More information on the 2016 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef is available HERE.

UN Adopts Resolution Promoting Sustainable Pastoralism and Rangelands  
Dorine Odongo, News ILRI | June 6, 2016
A new resolution on Combating desertification, land degradation and drought and promoting sustainable pastoralism and rangelands was presented and adopted at the second session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA–2) held 23–27 May 2016 at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in Nairobi, Kenya.

At a UNEA–2 side event on sustainable pastoralism, high–level discussions among key players in the livestock sector highlighted pastoralism's ability to promote healthy ecosystems in the face of climate change, showing that common pastures are potential reservoirs of greenhouse gases.

Kicking off the side event, the deputy executive director of UNEP and assistant secretary–general of the United Nations, Ibrahim Thiaw, reminded participants that ten years ago, myths and misconceptions surrounding pastoralism were already being strongly debunked—particularly those portraying it as ‘primitive, unproductive and environmentally destructive'.

It's Time to Tell Livestock's Untold Secret
Frank Berthe, Inter Press Service | June 1, 2016
As nations attempt to usher in a new era of global development, seeking to satisfy both the Paris climate agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, there is one natural resource that has remained untapped.

The livestock sector's potential to meet many of the most pressing global challenges – from food and nutrition security to economic growth and climate change – has been somewhat buried beneath bad news. Concerns relating to greenhouse gas emissions and overconsumption of meat in the developed world are both valid and important, but do not tell the whole story about livestock.

Meeting both climate and sustainable development goals are a global challenge, and those in the developing world are starting the race from much further behind

Value–Added Programs Really Do Pay Off
Burt Rutherford, Beef Magazine | May 30, 2016
If you're not sure that marketing your calves through a value–added program is worth the effort, just talk to Gant Maurer. The Oklahoma State University Extension beef value enhancement specialist says that value was seen this past fall and winter when feeder cattle prices collapsed.

"It was a really hard year, and every week, as we approached December, it seemed to get harder and harder and a lot of us went through that," he says. "But what we found is pre–conditioning these cattle, we still maintain the value of those animals," he tells the Oklahoma Farm Report..

An Important Step for Sustainability
Tim Hardman, World Wildlife Fund | June 1, 2016
As the world's population and incomes grow, the global demand for beef will increase. To help blunt the environmental impact of this trend, WWF joined with McDonald's, Cargill, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, ranchers, and other stakeholders to build the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and several national roundtables. These efforts are aimed at minimizing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting native forests, grasslands, and other areas with high conservation value, efficiently managing water use and quality, promoting soil health, and protecting biodiversity—all while maintaining social and economic viability.

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JBS's Cameron Bruett Says Defining Sustainability is Critical to Beef Industry  
Roy Hays, Oklahoma Farm News | May 25, 2016
Sustainability in the beef industry continues to be a hot topic among today's consumers. Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs for JBS, says the problem lies in not having a clear and consistent definition of sustainability as it relates to beef production.

Bruett is the immediate past president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, an initiative to make all aspects of the beef value chain are environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable. He says the group has been working on defining the term "sustainability" and then sharing it with the marketplace "whether that be in the form of verified sustainable beef or be that in the form of just marketing materials through NCBA and companies like mine, so we have this common understanding of what sustainability truly means."

Study Shows Feed Additive Effectively Cools Off Heat–Stressed Cows
Mary Ellen Shoup, Dairy Reporter | May 27, 2016
Heat stress among cows presents a major problem for dairy farmers during warmer months, but Cargill's feed additive may help change that. Cargill developed a feed additive that contains an osmolyte compound to help rehydrate the cow's cells. The Cooling Pack product moderates the cow's body temperature to help keep it producing mil and maintain reproductive performance.

Efficiency and Profitability Focus In New Livestock Care Guide  
Farming UK | May 31, 2016
For cattle and sheep farmers striving to maximise efficiency and productivity, a new livestock care guide has been published by The Allflex UK Group. The Allflex Pro guide supports the linkage of high animal and financial performance with exemplary stockmanship, according to Allflex's Mark Lawrence.

"Individual electronic identification, for example, is opening up new opportunities in livestock productivity and care," he says. "In this area, we can help farmers keep pace with the latest developments. Our multi–national experts are themselves working on the latest uses of new developments to improve livestock enterprise performance."

MSD Animal Health to Present Important New Data at the World Buiatrics Congress
The Cattle Site | June 7, 2016
MSD Animal Health (known as Merck Animal Health in the USA and Canada) will present 45 studies at the World Buiatrics Congress in Dublin, Ireland, from July 3–8, 2016.

The majority of presentations will focus on the increasingly important cattle respiratory and reproductive health.

"MSD Animal Health is committed to advancing the science of healthier animals by providing comprehensive solutions to protect herd health throughout the lifecycle," said Dr. Jantijn Swinkels, Global Technical Director, Ruminants, MSD Animal Health. "We are pleased to share important new data to help producers across the globe advance how they treat and prevent some of the most serious and economically damaging diseases affecting cattle."

McDonald's Concludes Sustainable Beef Pilot in Canada 
The Cattle Site | June 3, 2016
McDonald's Canada has announced the successful conclusion of its Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot, an industry–first.

As one of the country's largest Canadian beef purchasers, McDonald's Canada, through the Pilot tracked the journey of nearly 9,000 head of Canadian cattle, or the equivalent of 2.4 million patties. The cattle spent their entire lives, from ‘birth to burger', raised on or handled by verified sustainable operations.

McDonald's said the Pilot demonstrated that not only can sustainable practices and outcomes be verified through the entire Canadian beef supply chain (from farm to processing), cattle from verified sustainable beef operations can also be tracked through these operations.

The Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot Project in Canada is the first programme to make the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) principles and criteria actionable across the entire beef value chain.

The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) said it is building on the Pilot work undertaken by McDonald's to develop a sustainability verification framework, which should be in place by the end of 2017 after further trial work.

Editorial: An Ally for Canada's Beef Industry  
Calgary Herald | June 5, 2016
The beef industry is tremendously important to our economy, so it's encouraging to see McDonald's Canada work with producers to ensure they'll always have a hungry market for their product. The company, which buys all the beef for its Canadian restaurants within the country, committed in 2014 to start buying some of its beef from verifiable sustainable sources in 2016. To its credit, McDonald's took a co–operative approach, declining to set a target on the amount of sustainable beef it would insist upon, or even define what would qualify for the increasingly important designation.

The result was a two–year pilot project involving 182 participants, including ranchers, feedlots, processors and a hamburger patty plant. Each of them was required to submit to third–party verification to prove their beef is produced in accordance with principles such as environmental responsibility, animal health, food safety, worker safety, community responsibility and innovation..

Bluetongue Vaccine Available For Cattle and Sheep by July  
Farmers Weekly | June 3, 2016
Animal health companies MSD and Zoetis have announced they will be making a bluetongue vaccine available to cattle and sheep farmers by July.

The announcements follow intense pressure for the production of a vaccine from both the National Sheep Association (NSA) and NFU, after an Animal & Plant Health Agency report released in March confirmed there was an 80% chance the disease would hit UK shores this summer.

MSD Animal Health has signed an agreement with Spanish–based veterinary biopharmaceutical specialist CZ Veterinaria to distribute its Bluevac BTV8 bluetongue vaccine throughout Britain. Bluevac BTV8 is an established vaccine that has been used in Europe for a number of years and MSD says it will be available by mid–July.
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Gregory Bloom Named New Executive Director of Colorado Beef Council
Greeley Tribune | June 1, 2016
Beginning June 30, Gregory Bloom will take the reins as executive director of the Colorado Beef Council. He will replace Fred Lombardi, who is retiring after 19 years of service with the organization.

Gregory Bloom is a Colorado native who grew up in the Brighton area. He accepts the position with 25 years of experience in the beef industry. Over the course of his career, Bloom has made an effort to educate consumers, chefs and retail food representatives on understanding beef cuts, and the best ways to prepare them.

"I'm excited about this opportunity to serve the great beef producing families and other beef industry stakeholders in Colorado, who feed consumers not only in our state but across the nation and the world," Bloom said.

Work Needed to Improve Australia's Beef Pricing
Aaron McDonald, Global Meat News | May 31, 2016
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) has recognised that more work needs to be done to improve price transparency in the beef sector.

The news comes as part of a report into price transparency in the beef supply chain, initiated by the Cattle Council of Australia (CCA). After concerns that there was a lack of price information in the beef value chain, which was affecting marketing and investment decisions by the industry, CCA requested that more options be considered to increase price transparency.

Whereas it acknowledged that there was already a reasonable amount of cattle and beef market information in existence within the country, the report also suggested a range of further initiatives.

MLA managing director Richard Norton accepted CCA's call for more work to be done to improve price transparency within the sector and to further enhance MLA's market information services.

Inaugural Canadian Beef Industry Conference
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry | June 2, 2016
The inaugural Canadian Beef Industry Conference is set to take place in Calgary this summer. As Virgil Lowe, one of the co–chairs explains, this conference is designed to drive progress in the industry by bringing stakeholders together from all sectors of the industry, including cattle producers from across the country. Registration is now open for the Canadian Beef Industry conference, which is August 9 to 11 in Calgary. The early bird registration deadline is June 15. For more information, go to HERE.

New Test Digs Deep Into Soil Needs
Tom C. Doran, Agri News | June 2, 2016
A new soil health initiative team now is collecting samples across the nation to not only reveal content, but also make management recommendations.

A Cornell University multidisciplinary team created this new kind of soil assessment with early funding from multiple Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grants. Traditional soil tests, which also are important management tools, typically are limited to measuring nutrient levels and pH. They do not reveal anything about the physical structure or microbial life present in the soil, yet such characteristics strongly influence crop yields as well as the efficiency of inputs such as water and fertilizers.

In contrast, Cornell's soil health assessment reports typically include management recommendations to address specifically identified constraints and promote soil–building practices such as cover cropping, reduced tillage, the use of compost or manure and diversified rotations that include perennial crops.

Ontario Government Doubles Feeder Cattle Loan Guarantee Program
Diego Flammini, Farms.com | May 31, 2016
The Ontario government is increasing its guarantee under the Feeder Cattle Loan Guarantee Program. The guarantee will increase from $32.5 million to $65 million, which can help farmers acquire more cattle, expand operations, invest in new opportunities and ensure an ample supply of feeder cattle is available for the processing industry.

"Fostering a competitive and sustainable beef industry is our number one priority," Matt Bowman, BFO President, said in a release.

Increasing the Ontario government guarantee under the Ontario Feeder Cattle Loan Guarantee Program will certainly support new and existing beef farmers, vital infrastructure across the province, and ensure that we can maintain a consistent supply of high quality beef for our consumers."

Beef Industry Opens Its Doors to Consumers
Matthew Weaver, Capital Press | June 1, 2016
No question was too tough when the Washington Beef Commission took 30 consumers on its annual tour of the industry, from pasture to plate.

"All bets are off — this is a completely transparent tour. We're going to show you everything," said Patti Brumbach, commission executive director. "There's no question that is out of line for us, because it's only through that kind of openness that you gain trust and support."

The Explore Beef Experience tour included Trinity Farms in Kittitas, Wash., a beef plant in Pasco, Wash., and one of Easterday Farms' feedlots about 100 miles south of Spokane. The facility was built eight years ago and accommodates 25,000 cattle, bringing cattle in from ranches throughout the West to Tyson Foods in Pasco.

"It's part of the responsibility we have producing beef to educate not only the consumers, but the people serving it and buying it," said Cody Easterday, director of the feedlots for Easterday Farms.

Farm Sector Fears Post–Brexit UK Will Turn To Argentine Beef
Louise Hogan, Irish Independent | June 6, 2016
Ireland's €2bn a year beef trade with the UK could be at risk if Britain leaves the European Union and strikes a "backdoor" agreement with South American production powerhouses Brazil and Argentina.

Philip Carroll, chairman of Meat Industry Ireland (MII), cautioned that a UK vote to leave the EU would have a "significant" impact and result in "high levels of uncertainty" over the coming years.

The warning came as Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) president Joe Healy said stakes were highest for farming and the agri–food sector with a dependence on the UK market for €4.4bn worth of exports. He also warned the shared land border would be an issue, while if the UK were to withdraw it could also potentially impact on the money from Brussels available for farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as the UK is a net contributor to the EU budget of €8bn.

Beef Battles with Perception
Jamie–Lee Oldfield, The Weekly Times | June 9, 2016
Beef industry heavyweights have focused on perception, rather than production, when asked what lay ahead for the sector.

With cattle prices at record highs, and a more positive weather outlook post–El Nino, beef farmers are facing fewer production hurdles, for the time being.

But they shouldn't take their eye off the ball when it comes to marketing their product, the audience at the recent Angus Australia national conference heard.

McDonalds' Tracey Monaghan said customer perception of beef production was a concern for the global hamburger restaurant. "What worries us is things like meat–free day, and the demonisation of beef. And we think we need to work together to find a way to tell the stories to our customers," Ms Monaghan said.

National Beef Verification Program Urged  
Barbara Duckworth, Western Producer (Subscription) | June 9, 2016
The Beef Cattle Research Council will soon release an updated verified beef production program designed to assure consumers of safe, humanely raised, environmentally sustainable food. More food companies are demanding higher quality assurance standards, which means beef producers need to get on board.

"We have two choices: they can define how we do it or we can work with them," said Andrea Brocklebank, head of the Beef Cattle Research Council, which provides funding and support for the verified beef production program.

This program covers on–farm food safety, animal welfare, environmental stewardship and biosecurity. The newest version will be released June 15.

Indonesian Live Exports Scandal Revisited  
Colin Bettles, Farm Weekly | May 31, 2016
Five years ago today, the ABC Four Corners program "A Bloody Business" exploded onto television screens throughout the nation, igniting a cataclysmic chain of events that catapulted Australia's northern beef cattle industry into its deepest crisis.

The dramatic, emotion charged broadcast showed repeated images of graphic and intolerable animal cruelty, originally captured by animal rights group Animals Australia in mid–March 2011, from deliberately targeted Indonesian abattoirs.

Intertwined with vision also filmed by the ABC's own investigation a month before, the expose zoomed–in on the gore and violence, to portray the live animal export trade as being systematically cruel and desperately needing government intervention to enact urgent reforms.

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