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


Executive Director's Message

It's vacation time for many, and I'd like to remind everyone that October will be with us before we know it; your early registration discount for the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef expires on 15th of August. Please go to the conference page and register in time to take advantage of the $50 discount on registration and of the special hotel rate negotiated for the conference.

On the theme of the conference, there are still sponsorship opportunities. I'd like to thank Cargill and Zoetis for their sponsorship at the Diamond and Platinum levels respectively, and all others who have already offered to sponsor the event. For further details on sponsorship, click on More Details HERE.

During the conference one of the breakout sessions that will take place (repeated twice) on the afternoon of Wednesday, October 5th, is on Business Commitments to Sustainability. This will be a great chance for all of our members to demonstrate the commitments they have made towards making the value chain environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable; whether that be in terms of sourcing policy, energy or packaging, terms of trade or employment or other areas covered by our principles and criteria.

In order to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the conference it would help us if all members would take stock of their existing sustainability commitments and provide us with a summary of them through this online survey. All constituencies can provide details, recognising that there will be differences in how they are quantified and where they apply in the chain. This is your chance to really show off your commitments to sustainability! When we put them all together I think you will be impressed by the impact that our members can have globally.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

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

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Members in the News

Growsafe Systems Demonstrates the Value of Data in Increasing Herd Efficiency
Reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through selection for efficient cattle and optimized production time offers significant opportunity to reduce livestock's environmental footprint. Building on extensive research, technology development and industry investment a project co–funded by the Carbon Credit Emissions Management Corporation and GrowSafe Systems Ltd. is demonstrating how an advanced data analytics platform can be used to improve operation profitability and reduce emissions. With participation from livestock producers from the United States, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Africa and the EU and researchers from the University of Missouri, Texas A and M, and UC Davis this project will demonstrate at a commercially relevant scale how an advanced analytics platform can monitor, audit and verify GHG emissions on a life cycle basis. View Project Video (3:48)

Jolley: Five Minutes with John Butler and the U.S. Roundtable on Sustainable Beef
Chuck Jolley, Drovers | August 3, 2016
This year, John Butler of the Beef Marketing Group, heads up a gang of beef industry heavyweights as the U.S. Roundtable on Sustainable Beef begins its second year of getting an often factious group of stakeholders to come together and create a working definition of sustainable beef practices.

The group includes Chair Elect, Rickette Collins, McDonald's Corporation; Secretary/Treasurer, Mark Shaw, Micro Technologies; Ben Weinheimer, Texas Cattle Feeders Association; Todd Armstrong, Elanco Animal Health; Kim Stackhouse–Lawson, PhD., JBS USA; last year's interim president, Nicole Johnson–Hoffman, Cargill; Alisha Staggs, Walmart; Nancy Labbe; World Wildlife Fund and Chad Ellis, Noble Foundation.

Marfrig Wants to Be 'Global Leader' in Environmental Sustainability  
Oscar Rousseau, Global Meat News | July 28, 2016
Marfrig is one of the largest meat companies in Brazil and has radically changed how it produces beef to halt the deforestation of South America and protect the environment. The business has recently launched a line of meats produced in line with top sustainability production practices and is working on building a responsible ranching model in the Amazon to promote sustainable farming.

Certified Angus Beef LLC to Receive Don L. Good Impact Award  
Drovers | July 27, 2016
Certified Angus Beef LLC, the world's largest and most successful branded beef program, has been selected to receive the 2016 Don L. Good Impact Award. With nearly four decades of leadership in the beef business, the CAB brand in fiscal 2015 reported record sales for the ninth consecutive year, marketing 896 million pounds of product.

The award, presented by the Livestock and Meat Industry Council Inc., is named in honor of Good, who is a former head of the Kansas State University Department of Animal Sciences and Industry, and recognizes positive impact on the livestock and meat industry or agriculture.

One Strong Future  
Amy Sandys, Transform Magazine | July 29, 2016
Dutch–owned supermarket group, Ahold was established in 1887; Belgian–owned supermarket group, Delhaize, in 1867. Back in June 2015, the companies announced the intention to merge. In July 2016, $29bn later, this expectation became a reality.

Annual sales of the group reach around $50bn per year, and each week it serves around 50mn customer across 11 countries through 22 local brands. The newly–named Ahold Delhaize therefore required a strong visual and corporate identity to remain a leader in retail experience.

Cargill Aiming to Model the Effect of Antibiotics
Jane Bryne, Feed Navigator | August 2, 2016
FeedNavigator: How have insights that the Cargill team has gleaned around how antibiotic growth promoters (AGPs) work influenced R&D efforts in optimizing gut health in mongastrics, ruminants and fish?

CAN: Cargill's animal nutrition business has learned AGPs have modes of action other than working simply as anti–microbial agents. As a result, we took a more comprehensive approach. Our strategy is to look at AGP effects from several different angles: microbial, immune, gut integrity and function, and metabolic. We then identify biomarkers that can be used to describe, evaluate and model the effect of antibiotics. At this moment, we are modeling the effects in poultry and applying the learnings in pigs before expanding to other animal species.

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Sustainability News

Framework for Sustainable Beef Taking Shape    
James Nason, Beef Central | August 7, 2016
The framework for sustainable beef production in Australia is gradually taking shape and should be in place by March next year, steering group chair Prue Bondfield told a forum in Brisbane this week. The steering group was appointed to develop a sustainability framework for the Australian beef industry in February.

The Sustainability of Beef
Kacy Atkinson, Journal Advocate | July 23, 2016
Ask anyone in agriculture whose family has been in business for multiple generations if they are sustainable, and they will respond yes. They wouldn't still be in business if they weren't. But to today's consumers, sustainability means something very different than the ability to persevere through adversity. It's become a ten–dollar word, but what does it really mean?

The industry has defined sustainability as balancing environmental responsibility, social diligence and economic opportunity while meeting the growing global demand for food. This encompasses everything from air, water and land resources to human and animal welfare to trade policies, law, market prices and quality issues.

Editorial: Debate Over Impact of Beef Production on Environment Needs Realism  
Omaha World–Herald | July 25, 2016
Denmark may be a small country, but a recent proposal there points to a challenge for the world's beef industry. Its independent Council of Ethics has called on the Danish government to put a special tax on beef purchases to compel the country's 5 million Danes to eat less red meat.

The council argued that cattle–raising puts too much stress on natural resources and contributes to greenhouse gas. Less red meat consumption would be a plus for society, the group claimed. Environmental–focused critiques of beef production are common these days. What's needed in the discussion is a practical recognition of reality by all sides.

People have a right to make their own food decisions, and attitudes toward food choices clearly are becoming more diverse. At the same time, the beef sector looks as if it's going to be around a long time. Rather than condemn beef producers as environmental marauders, it makes sense to encourage them to build on the progress they're making.

Washington Post Needs to Fact Check Before Publishing Another Anti–Meat Article
Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine | July 27, 2016
I'm starting to notice a trend with the writers at the Washington Post — they love to bash beef! In 2014, they attacked competitive livestock shows and in 2015, they blamed climate change on cow burps. Earlier this summer, an intern wrote an article titled, "Meat is horrible," and most recently, they continued their anti–meat crusade by posing the question, "Is reducing meat consumption in the U.S. possible?"

Without a doubt, the Washington Post is relentless in criticizing animal agriculture and perpetuating the notion that meat production is bad for our health, the planet and the animals. Not that I blame them. Sensational headlines and fear mongering drum up more readers, increase page views and satisfy their advertisers, but to what end? Today's blog is in response to their most recent article urging us to reduce our meat consumption. To which I ask, why do we need to?

I expect that the various beef substitutes utilising heme to give a more realistic meat flavour will take off and become popular, particularly if their price dramatically undercuts that of real meat. However, we do need to recognise the important role of livestock in mixed farming systems and the maintenance of grassland ecosystems. While determining a sustainable future for food production, we must not forget that 26% of the planet, (70% of the land we use to produce food) is not well suited to crop production, that biodiversity depends upon having a variety of production systems, and that crop by products and feed quality grain can produce real meat while cycling nutrients and carbon back into soil more efficiently than can be done without livestock. We also need to consider the nutritional profile of these meat replacers; undoubtedly different from the real thing. And we need to evaluate the science behind the exaggerated claims these companies are making about sustainability relative to beef.
Beef Substitute Set to Take on Meat Industry
Adrien Taylor, Newshub | July 30, 2016
A New Zealand clean tech specialist says the patty inside a new burger will be as disruptive as Uber. She warns the meat industry here needs to prepare and adapt to avoid being displaced completely by its younger cousin.

It looks like beef, cooks like beef, bleeds like beef and tastes like beef, but it's not beef. How did they get it to look so similar? Science is the short answer. The breakthrough is the extraction of a molecule called heme from plants.

"[Heme is] what gives meat it's unique meaty flavour. It's the bloody taste of raw meat," Impossible Foods founder Patrick Brown said. The company behind it, Impossible Foods, has received more than $200 million in funding from investors like Bill Gates.

GRSB members should be aware of the book "Cowed". I mentioned it last year when it came out, and there is much to disagree with in the book. However, I believe that "better" beef is something that GRSB and all our members are working on and we should be proactive in explaining what that means. People sometimes find it difficult to explain what sustainable beef means without having a label to point to. Together, our membership represents an important part of the industry and the commitments that I reference in the introduction above will have considerable impact. With GRSBs principles and criteria and the national roundtables indicators, metrics and means of verification we are all working on a sustainability system that will demonstrate results and have already made good progress towards that. We need to start asserting ourselves as a solution to the problems that the industry is frequently accused of causing.
Book Review: Cowed's Message is Less But Better Beef
Doug Boucher, Union of Concerned Scientists | July 27, 2016
Yet their definition of better, more sustainable beef is organic and grass–fed (or technically, "grass–finished", since all beef cattle spend the majority of their lives on pastures eating grass).

From a climate point of view, the differences between organic and conventional are not clear, but as for the effect of grass–fed versus grass–plus–supplemental feeds (e.g. grains, legumes, mineral supplements, vegetable oils) on animal emissions, there's a definite trend seen in the recent scientific literature. It's that beef cattle fed only on grass, without supplemental feeds, emit more greenhouse gases, not less—per day and over their lifetimes.
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The story below illustrates the gulf between government dietary guidelines (see China story here) and what consumers choose to do with their money:
Beef Export Bonanza for Brazil as Chinese Eat More Foreign Steak
Gerson Freitas Jr., Bloomberg | July 29, 2016
Chinese consumers are eating more beef than the country can produce, and that's led to a sales bonanza for exporters in Brazil.

About a year after recovering from a mad–cow scare, Brazil has supplanted Australia as the biggest seller of beef to China, where a production deficit is widening and imports are heading for a record. "China is emerging as the first alternative to Europe for Brazil's premium beef," Antonio Camardelli, head of Brazil's beef industry group, Abiec, said in a telephone interview from Sao Paulo. "There's still a lot of room to increase exports of gourmet beef to China."

Agricultural Industries Hopeful but Not Holding Breath for a Breakthrough on Indonesia Trade Deal
By Anna Vidot, ABC Online | July 31, 2016
Australian agricultural exporters are hopeful talks with Indonesia will deliver a more consistent and open trading relationship between the two countries.

They are not holding their breath for a swift resolution, but there is still optimism that the two nations can meet an "ambitious but achievable" timeline for a broad trade agreement, as laid out by the Australian Government.

U.S. Opens Up to Brazil Fresh Beef Imports  
Anthony Boadle, Reuters/Drovers | August 1, 2016
The U.S. and Brazilian governments exchanged food safety equivalence documents on Monday that will open up their respective markets to fresh beef exports, a window expected to boost Brazil's exports to the United States by $900 million.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said its Food Safety and Inspection Service had determined that Brazil's food safety system for meat was up to U.S. standards and that fresh (chilled and frozen) Brazilian beef can be safely imported. This means that Brazil, the world's largest beef exporter, will now be able to send raw beef to the United States from every part of the country, not just the southern state of Santa Catarina, which already could due to its sanitary track record.

Kenya's Rapid Urbanisation Takes Toll on Maasai Communal Land
By Shadrack Kavilu, Reuters | July 31, 2016
An area that for years provided grazing ground for Maasai herdsman Josphat Ole Tonkei's cows has been built over with commercial properties and gated communities, leaving him and other herdsmen with no choice but to walk long distances in search of pasture and water.

He is not sure how pastoralists' communal grazing land has passed into the hands of private developers.

"We don't know who sells our land to private developers. We only realise it has been sold when we see them erecting concrete fences and putting up structures," Tonkei said.

Tonkei is among Maasai herdsmen reeling from the impact of rapid urbanisation that is encroaching into the plains of Kitengela town, around 30 km (18 miles) south of the capital Nairobi.

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