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


Executive Director's Message

Thanks to those of you who responded to the "Meat is Horrible" email I shared last week. There were some constructive comments which we will need to take forward in whatever way we proceed. At this moment, GRSB does not have the free resources to invest in the proposal, so if we are to pursue it, it will need project financing. The same applies to much of our strategic plan, so we need to be proactive in identifying funding opportunities.

Together with a number of GRSB member organisations, I attended the Private Sector Mechanism Partnership forum on Livestock in Rome last week for the launch of the HLPE's report: Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock?

For more information on that meeting see the articles from Massey University and from ILRI below. The Private Sector Mechanism gives input to the UN Committee on World Food Security. Any private sector member of GRSB is eligible to participate, so if you would like to join the PSM Working Group on Livestock, please contact morgane@emergingag.com. The PSM working group on livestock has also developed a position paper on antimicrobial resistance, available here.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

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


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Restaurant Brands International Inc.
Dateline: July 2016 | Constituency: Retail
Restaurant Brands International Inc. is one of the world's largest quick service restaurant companies with more than $23 billion in system sales and over 19,000 restaurants in nearly 100 countries and U.S. territories. Restaurant Brands International owns two of the world's most prominent and iconic quick service restaurant brands – TIM HORTONS® and BURGER KING®. These independently operated brands have been serving their respective guests, franchisees and communities for over 50 years.

4 Facts to Debunk "Meat Is Horrible" Article
Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine | July 6, 2016
According to a checkoff–funded lifecycle assessment, "From 2005 to 2011, the beef industry achieved a 3% reduction in water use. The assessment also revealed that beef made great strides in several environmental areas including a 10% improvement in water quality, 7% reduction in landfill contributions, 2% reduction in resource consumption and energy use, and 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."

Livestock and Sustainability – Challenges and Opportunities
Scoop Independent News | July 6, 2016
Livestock may provide one–third of the value of global agricultural production, but it comes at a big cost for the planet. Livestock uses 80 per cent of the world's agricultural land, putting pressure on water resources and biodiversity and emitting 14.5 per cent of the planet's greenhouse gases.

The benefits, risk, trade–offs and consequences are complex and policy makers are always looking for guidance. Now, new guidelines have been developed by the Committee on World Food Security's High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE). The Committee's report Sustainable agricultural development for food security and nutrition: what roles for livestock? was launched last week at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome.

I debated whether to include this. The basic principle is correct, though I feel the article is not particularly balanced. Soil is where we have the most potential to store carbon, and the benefits of increasing soil carbon are much greater than simply removing it from the atmosphere – water retention capacity, and hence resilience and productivity increase as well.
Dark Earth Could Herald a Bright Future for Agriculture and Climate
David Suzuki, Straight | July 5, 2016
One promising development is the renewed interest in a soil–building method from the distant past called "dark earth", or "terra preta", which involves mixing "biochar" with organic materials to create humus–rich soil that stores large amounts of carbon. In the book Terra Preta: How the World's Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger, Ute Scheub and coauthors claim that increasing the humus content of soils worldwide by 10 percent within the next 50 years could reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations to preindustrial levels.

Consumers Are Cynical. Is That Our Fault?
Troy Marshall, BEEF Magazine | July 7, 2016
American consumers are cynical, and they have every right to be. For example, we sell them organic, gluten–free, antibiotic–free and hormone–free beef with the promise that is healthier for them, better for the environment and better for the animals. In almost every case, however, there is no discernable difference in these key areas between the "free" beef and traditionally–produced beef. In my opinion, consumers likely pay more for a product that isn't any healthier or environmentally friendly.

Meat Of The Matter: A Silent Killer
Dan Murphy, Drovers | July 7, 2016
As the focus of the anti–industry groups has shifted from angry attacks over contamination threats to a relentless drumbeat about environmental impact of livestock production, the food–safety issues that have destroyed dozens of companies over massive product recalls and food–borne outbreaks in the last 2 years have receded from public scrutiny.

Yet the threat of microbial pathogens in the food supply, while dramatically lower than it was just a decade ago, still affects millions of people annually.

Sustainable Beef? U.S. Has Most Environmentally Friendly Livestock Industry in the World
Wes Ishmael,, Drovers | June 27, 2016
"Globally, the U.S. is the country with the relatively lowest carbon footprint per unit of livestock product produced [i.e. meat, milk or eggs]," says Frank Mitloehner, an animal science and air quality specialist at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). "The reason for this achievement largely lies in the production efficiencies of these commodities. Fewer animals are needed to produce a given quantity of animal protein food."

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Enbiotix, Elanco Team Up to Offer Antibiotic Alternatives for Animal Production
Aerin Curtis, FeedNavigator | June 30, 2016
Massachusetts–based EnBiotix is set to work with Indiana–based Elanco to develop engineered phage technology to offer a non–antibiotic treatment for animals, said Jeff Wager, chairman and CEO of EnBiotix. "We have agreed upon a research plan with Elanco, the scope and terms are confidential, but it incorporates several elements of phage engineering," he told FeedNavigator.

The partnership is part of Elanco's work to develop antibiotic alternatives, said Jeff Simmons, president of Elanco Animal Health, in a release. "Innovative research will be key to protecting both human and animal health while safeguarding antibiotics for future generations," he added.

Industry Looks to Trade Deals Sooner Rather Than Later  
Annette Lambly, Northland | June 30, 2016
While no immediate disruption to trade is expected because of Brexit, Northland farmers are looking to their respective industry organisations to press New Zealand's trade opportunities as soon as possible.

Northland sheep and beef farmer and chairman of Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) James Parsons says while the global uncertainty was not of immediate concern, sheep and beef trade to both the UK and EU were inextricably linked through quota access and both were likely to be affected in the future..

McDonald's Achieves Bord Bia Origin Green Accreditation
Mark Murphy, FFT.ie | June 26, 2016
McDonald's Restaurants of Ireland has become the first foodservice operator to achieve Bord Bia Origin Green accreditation, the company has announced. To achieve Origin Green membership, McDonald's was required to outline its sustainability timelines and targets in a plan that was then verified to an independent standard.

Launched in June 2012, Origin Green is the first national sustainability programme of its kind and a key pillar of the government's strategy for the Irish food and drink industry. At the heart of Origin Green is a sustainability charter that commits participants to engage directly with the ongoing challenges of sustainability: reducing energy inputs, minimising their overall carbon footprint and lessening their impact on the environment.

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How Satellites Are Helping Pastoralists Find Greener Pastures in Ethiopia  
Tom Murphy, Ethiopia Online | April 28, 2016
El Niño combined with climate change has caused major problems for millions of people. Residents of eastern and southern Africa have been particularly hit hard. As many as 36 million people across the two regions are facing hunger. A new warning by a group of 23 NGOs in Somalia says the country may slip back into the deadly famine of 2010.

In Ethiopia, more than 10 million people are in need of critical food aid, according to the World Food Program. The satellite–assisted pastoral resource management program run by Project Concern provides pastoralists with maps that show which areas are better than others. Community leaders consult the maps and then dispatch scouts to the areas for confirmation. It saves time and helps leaders make better decisions.

Russia Extends Ban On Food, Agriculture Imports
Watt Ag Net | July 5, 2016
Russian President Vladimir Putin has extended the country's ban on agricultural and food imports from Western nations through the end of 2017. Putin signed a decree to extend the ban that was initially put in place on August 6, 2014. The ban involves food and agricultural exports from the United States, Canada, Australia, Norway and the European Union.

Balancing the Plate: Jimmy Smith Opens 'Private Sector Mechanism Partnerships Forum On Livestock'
News ILRI | June 30, 2016
I'm here to make the case that we have a golden and rare opportunity to ensure that livestock are viewed not as a problem to be fixed but as part of many solutions to many global problems. I'm going to argue that livestock are powerful, if as yet underused, instruments for leveraging the systemic changes we need both to end hunger and to create sustainable food systems globally.

Commercial Beef Production Benchmarks for 2016  
Kris Ringwall, Drovers | June 30, 2016
Goals are very much a part of moving the beef industry forward. Goals need outcomes. Words such as "achievable," "reachable" and "forward thinking" imply that the producers setting the goals know where they are for each specific desired outcome.

Individual year averages are good, but a rolling five–year average provides a firmer benchmark, buffering yearly ups and downs in the data. Understanding normal, or in this case average, performance allows producers to better understand how to guide their individual herd goals. The data are presented in percentages or actual values, depending on the trait.

Mexico Re–Opens Market to Canadian Beef  
Diego Flammini, Farms
As of October 1, Mexico will fully allow Canadian beef imports after suspending them when a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was detected in 2003.

Representatives from Canada's beef and meat industries welcome the new import opportunities.

"The full normalization of trade in beef products with Mexico has been a high priority for the Canadian beef industry," said Canadian Meat Council President Joe Reda in a release. "On behalf of beef packers and processors across Canada, I wish to thank Prime Minister Trudeau as well as Ministers MacAulay and Freeland and government officials for their persistence in bringing these discussions to a successful conclusion."

Research by West Texas A&M Scientists Could 'Revolutionize The Beef Industry'
Steve Kuhlmann, The Eagle | June 29, 2016
West Texas A&M researchers are one step closer to creating new, higher–quality herd of cattle based on four animals cloned at the university after getting a closer look at their first round of offspring.

"As someone who has been following this project closely, I am extremely excited by these results, which have the potential to revolutionize the beef industry," said Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. " The Texas A&M System is committed to conducting cutting edge research with practical applications, and their work is a fine example of our philosophy in action."

Announced at the Canyon campus early Wednesday afternoon, researchers explained that since the project began in 2012, the four cloned cattle – one bull and three heifers – have produced 13 calves.

Beef Sector Will Bear Brunt of Brexit Impact  
Martin Coughlan, Louise Hogan and Darragh McCullough, Irish Independent | June 29, 2016
Rabobank's analyst Justin Sherrard warned the key risk was the "uncertainty" that will dominate over the months ahead. "There is so much uncertainty around, and questions

"I think the priority for the UK will be shoring up what they have at the moment rather than saying that now is the time to explore other supplies," he said. "If sterling settles at a value that is materially lower, it does spell bad news for the Irish beef industry."

New Online Tool to Give Beef Producers Financial Control  
By James Nason, BEEF Central | June 29, 2016
Over the past three years James Walker from Longreach, despite experiencing severe drought on his properties, has invested time, energy and resources into searching for solutions to the challenges family–sized livestock operations face to remain profitable. He has taken the learnings from the process to develop a unique and easy–to–use online tool for livestock producers to quickly and accurately understand their financial situation and to make fully informed decisions for the future.

China's Serving Up a Dilemma for Canadian Agriculture
Sylvian Charlebois, Troy Media | June 27, 2016
China consumes 28 per cent of the globe's meat, including half of its pork. But changes could be coming that will have a dramatic impact on Canada's agriculture industry. Years ago, the average Chinese consumer ate about 13 kg; now the average is 63 kg per person and could increase by another 30 kg by 2030.

These are staggering numbers for a country with a population of 1.3 billion and, if nothing changes, they will only go up.

But Chinese public health officials recommend that consumers eat only 40 to 75 grams of meat per day – 50 per cent less than current levels – and look at alternative sources of protein. Less meat consumption will not only cause changes for China, but also for the rest of the western world, particularly for Canada, and would affect our relationship with animal proteins.

Opening Doors for Sustainable Beef  
Jennifer Carrico, High Plains Journal | June 27, 2016
Providing sustainable beef for consumers is a goal of cattlemen all around. Verifying that beef for consumers is the challenge cattle producers and supply chains must face.

Food giant McDonald's has committed to purchase a portion of its beef from verified sustainable sources starting in 2016. In order to be part of this movement toward sustainability, all aspects of the beef and food industry must work together.

"There are many groups who are committed to helping the beef industry become verified sustainable," said Iowa Beef Center Director Dan Loy. "The United States is in the middle of this process, while Brazil and Canada are further ahead of us.".

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