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


Executive Director's Message

You will note that there are a lot of stories from Canada in this edition of Connect, and that is because the Canadian Beef Industry conference, which concluded last week, was a major focal point for news. The conference went extremely well with more than 700 attending.

On the subject of Canada, please don't forget to register for the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef in Banff, or to book your hotel if you have not yet done so (please use this link before September 2 to book at our special rate at the Fairmont).

You will also note the Leonardo DiCaprio story and the article on social license from Canada underlining the need for a concerted effort to try to rebalance the one–sided media and combat the misperceptions that are created by them. GRSB needs to be playing an active role in this, and we need our members to support that. Please let me know what you are already doing in this area, and how we can best help with this issue.


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

McDonald's Backs Manitoba Research Project  
Jennifer Paige, Manitoba Co–Operator | August 8, 2016
"Now that the pilot is over we are looking at initiatives like the Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiative (MBFI) that will help us to support and aid the industry get to the next level," said Jeffery Fitzpatrick–Stilwell, senior manager of sustainability for McDonald's Canada. "Things are really good in the Canadian beef sector. But, they can always get better and we want to support that." The contribution to MBFI came on the heels of the conclusion of the McDonald's Canada's sustainable beef project, which was the corporation's single–largest global investment in sustainable beef.

Earls Asks Ranchers for Forgiveness for 'Dumb Decision'  
Kyle Bakx, CBC News, Canada | August 10, 2016
A villain of the Canadian beef industry a few months ago, Earls president Mo Jessa was blunt as he took the stage in front of hundreds of ranchers Wednesday morning. "We need to talk about what is likely on everybody's mind — why did I even show up?" he said to laughter.

The Vancouver–based restaurant chain came under fire when it announced it would start sourcing its beef from an American ranch accredited by the non–profit group Humane Farm Animal Care. After sales plunged by 30 per cent at some locations, Earls said sorry and put Canadian beef back on the menu.

In hindsight, Jessa simply called it a "dumb decision" to not even consult with the farmers in Canada. "I am asking for your forgiveness and allow me the chance to work with the industry," he said at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary.

Beef Hormones 'Very Good' For Environment: Canadian Cattlemen's Association  
CBC News, Calgary, Canada | August 11, 2016
Beef without added hormones is all the rage these days.

It's supposed to be healthier, at least that's what A&W and other restaurants keep saying. But the Canadian Cattlemen's Association argues that livestock that are given growth implant hormones are safe — and benefit the environment. The group's Issues Manager, Tom Lynch–Staunton, explained how:

Growth hormone implants are used quite widely in the beef industry. They're mainly to used for feed efficiency. So, essentially, allowing the animal to convert feed that much better. So what it results in is it's a very good environmental story. So we're able to reduce our environmental impact by using these products.

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Sustainability News 

This is what we, along with the whole industry needs to be addressing, and investing in countering. Leonardo DiCaprio is, of course, a celebrity with a considerable following, and his influence over consumers and even regulators is much more than an organisation like ours. It will require serious and concerted efforts to correct the incorrect perceptions spread in this sort of media, and GRSB clearly needs to be playing a role in doing so.
Leonardo DiCaprio Calls for A "Ban On Beef"
Allana Ketler, Collective Evolution | August 6, 2016
Famous actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio is joining many other celebrities and a powerful Hindu nationalist group in urging people to completely stop eating beef.

Over the past decade or so, red meat has become a popular target for both health and environmental activists. An estimated 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the carbon emissions from the global livestock sector, with the beef and dairy industry accounting for 65% of all livestock emissions..

Canada's Beef Industry Finds Itself Battling for 'Social License' in Changing Times  
Amanda Stephenson, Calgary Herald | August 11, 2016
It was the first Canadian Beef Industry Conference, where producers — rattled by recent events like the Earls "Certified Humane" controversy — are increasingly aware of just how important consumer perception of their industry and its practices is.

"The biggest issue facing the industry today is, to me, consumer trust. The social licence to operate," said Bob Lowe, chair of the Alberta Beef Producers. "We can do everything right … But if we've lost the consumer trust as an industry, we won't get to raise cows anymore."

The Price for Serving Alternative Markets  
By Debbie Furber, Canadian Cattlemen | August 8, 2016
The days of expecting a constant feeder supply in anticipation of sales for finished cattle are no longer the norm for Cattleland Feedyards, a feedlot, cow–calf and farming operation owned by the Karen and Joe Gregory family of Strathmore, Alta. "Things used to be very easy. We bought the cattle, they'd come into the feedlot, we'd process them, vaccinate them, feed them and off to market they went and we'd start the process over again. Now, we are no longer doing just contracts. Our cattle feeding has become very purchase–order driven," says Cattleland's cattle and research manager William Torres.

Cattleland participated in the McDonald's Canada verified sustainable beef pilot and earlier this year was verified sustainable by third–party certifier, Where Food Comes From. This was a valuable learning experience in preparation for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef's program.

Beef Industry Says It's Largely "Sustainable" Already
Vanessa Wong, BuzzFeed News | August 10, 2016
In 2010, the giants of the beef business set out to put "sustainable beef" on the market. Years later, they're still trying to work out exactly what that means. Several years ago, a group of companies commonly associated with "big beef" — including McDonald's and meat processing giants JBS and Cargill — banded together to form national "industry roundtables" to try to answer questions like that. They're still working on it today.

Members of the roundtable suggested that the group's view of sustainable beef is, in fact, pretty similar to what consumers might call "conventional" beef. Rather than overhauling the industry to fulfill visions of organic, grass–fed cows, the group seeks to publicly validate much of the work cattle ranchers do today and declare it to be sustainable. It also plans to develop a framework for monitoring future improvements.

"We do have to measure what we are doing and communicate better because I believe we are already doing a lot of things in the right way," said John Butler, chair of the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. "That won't stop us from finding ways to continuously improve."

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Which is Bigger: Brazil–US Beef Trade Announcement or US Jobs Report?  
Glynn Tonsor, Drovers | August 8, 2016
Last Monday an updated agreement to bilateral beef trade between Brazil and the U.S. was announced. While the U.S. has been accepting beef from Brazil it has largely been confined to cooked or processed product, rather than fresh or frozen, due to past concerns regarding FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) risks. The updated agreement will extend Brazil's access by allowing fresh or frozen beef to be imported. The flip side of the U.S.–Brazil beef trade announcement is Brazil allowing imports of U.S. beef for the first time since the BSE event of 2003. While any enhancement in ability to export beef is a positive for the U.S. industry, on balance this likely will also have a small impact in the short term.

A report released later last week is arguably more important to the near term cattle market situation. The U.S. jobs report indicates that 255,000 jobs were added in July which is a full 75,000 jobs above pre–report expectations. Coupled with an increase in base wages this is certainly a positive update for meat demand. Increases in employment and wages is beneficial to meat demand given protein is one of the more expensive food items.

Gadvasu to Study Climate Change Resilient Livestock
Times of India | August 11, 2016
Scientists at Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (Gadvasu) have earned a competitive research project, "Towards climate resilient livestock production system in Punjab," from the ministry of environment, forests and climate change, under the National adaptation fund on climate change.

Dr Randhawa said the project aims at developing strategies for sustainability of livestock farming and income for farmers. Major objectives are to ensure sustainable levels of livestock production through scientific interventions, assisted reproductive technologies, environment–friendly housing and measures for timely detection and control of animal and zoonotic diseases.

Veganism Is Not the Key to Sustainable Development – Natural Resources Are Vital  
Jimmy Smith, The Guardian | August 16, 2016
Veganism is not the simple solution to sustainability that George Monbiot recently argued. I wish it were that easy. While I commend those taking steps to change their diets to reduce their environmental footprints, a vegan world – where no one consumes animal–derived meat, milk and eggs – is not how we will achieve sustainable global development.

Sustainable Beef Is Within Our Grasp  
Lee Hart, Canadian Cattlemen | August 15, 2016
Alberta cattleman Bob Lowe didn't have to do any management back flips on his ranch to produce cattle that under a recently completed pilot project qualify as "verifiable sustainable beef."

"To produce cattle that qualify as verifiable sustainable beef didn't require many changes in how we do things on our ranch," says Lowe, who is also chair of the Alberta Beef Producers. "We know what the recommended practices are, we just had to make sure we were following them to the best of our ability and were keeping proper records. It's probably not much different than what many producers do anyway, but it involves making adjustments where needed and keeping records."

Braizl to Overtake US as World's Top Meat Exporter
Kakie Roubaud, Global Meat News | August 17, 2016
Brazil will continue to challenge the US for the position of being the world's biggest meat producer and exporter over the next decade, according to government estimates. The data suggests that Brazilian meat production in 2025/26 will be 30.7% higher than in 2015/6 – amounting to 7.8 million tonnes in additional production – resulting in 33.7mt of output. Chicken meat production is forecast to increase by 34.7% over the next decade, with beef production forecast to rise by 23.3% and pigmeat 35.1% over these years.

In the short term, Brazil's current interim government is trying to boost the poultry sector by authorising the import of additional feed. Brazil's animal protein association (ABPA – Associação Brasileira de Proteína Animal) has reported that its president Francisco Turra and leading companies within this segment have been told by the government that ministers plan to authorise the import of an additional 1m tonnes of corn from the USA by October.

Namibia: Reducing Drought Vulnerability of Livestock Farmers – Part 3
Axel Rothauge, All Africa | August 16, 2016
The National Rangeland Management Policy and Strategy was accepted by Cabinet in 2012 and is being implemented as a voluntary policy with the assistance of the ministry of agriculture.

It advises land users in farming and protected areas on how to utilise their land ecologically sensibly and balance the requirements of livestock and game production with the requirements of a healthy rangeland.

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