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


Executive Director's Message

This is the last Connect before the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef in Banff. I have spoken to many members over the last few weeks and am really pleased that so many of you will be there; the speaker line up looks excellent and I know that the tour will be a real highlight, too.

Over the past two weeks I have been travelling in Paraguay and Namibia. It's heartening to me to see the interest in two such totally different countries in sustainable beef. The meeting in Paraguay brought together people from throughout the value chain including producers, processors and those closer to consumers as well as NGOs.

As many of you will have read recently, continuing focus on deforestation as a significant issue related to the beef industry in South America has also highlighted the rate at which it is occurring in Paraguay. It was particularly heartening to hear form Carlos Pedretti, a producer there (also coming to Banff) who has been addressing the issues of sustainability and has been able to demonstrate dramatic improvements in productivity through intensification: up to seven times the productivity on improved mixed legume pastures as compared to his baseline case. If a significant part of the industry can move in this direction, it is clear that pressure on forests could be reduced.

The Northern Communal Areas of Namibia offer a stark contrast, and represent a different part of the beef production spectrum. MeatCo, Solidaridad and Conservation Agriculture Namibia have been working with communities there to improve grazing management, infrastructure, husbandry and marketing. Cattle are a cornerstone of society in Northern Namibia, and have always played a central role in subsistence as well as the walking bank account of the population.

This pattern is repeated with variations throughout many African countries, and highlights why GRSB and our members need to maintain a focus on such countries; many sustainability issues are pressing with huge areas of degraded rangeland – a potential carbon sink under good range management, large populations of people living in poverty and large cattle populations that are unproductive. There is enormous potential for triple bottom line gains in such areas, but continued investment will be needed to realise them. I look forward to discussing these issues and more with you in Banff!


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...
Bayer Animal Health GmbH
Dateline: September 2016 | Constituency: Commerce & Processing
Animal Health is a business unit of Bayer. They support the health of animals, as well as the producers, veterinarians and pet owners who care for them, by offering innovative therapies and solutions. Bayer Animal Health believes responsible relationships between humans and animals means taking care of animal health and well–being. Bayer has been researching and developing products for animal health and pest control since 1919, and they continually develop new, better products and improved forms of administration for the benefit of the animals in our lives.

Sustainable Beef Is 'An Incredible Opportunity'  
Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Farmer | September 13, 2016
It's time for the beef industry to speak up and explain itself to its detractors and the people who don't understand it.

"I become very frustrated when I see media and activists attacking the global beef industry," Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs and sustainability with JBS USA, said at last month's Canadian Beef Industry Conference.

"When you look at North America, we have the most efficient, genetically superior herd in the world. We have the most efficient modern facilities and our product is enjoyed around the world unlike any other. But we're constantly under attack."

"We have made incredible gains — whether it be in environmental, social, or economic principle — but we're often attacked when it comes to sustainability," said Bruett, who sits on the board of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef as well as its global and U.S. sister organizations.

"I can stand up here and say this because I'm a board member of all these roundtables. You (in Canada) are making the most advancements when it comes to sustainable beef today," he said to thunderous applause.

How Agriculture Can Be Intensified in Africa Without Causing Harm
Tawanda Marandure, Kennedy Dzama, News 24 | September 2, 2016
Sustainable agriculture is a popular concept. It's warmly embraced as a guiding light for the future of food production. But there is still a great deal of disagreement about what the concept actually means and entails.

Intensive agriculture is nevertheless expected to increase because of population growth and greater demand for food as incomes rise. But unless agricultural intensification incorporates sustainable practices, environmental and social problems will persist.

Traceability Poised for Next Step: Auto Tracking of Cattle  
Jeff Melchior, Alberta Express | September 2, 2016
Automated tracking of cattle may soon be a reality. During the coming year, the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) will be experimenting throughout the province with data loggers installed at farms, feedlots, and auction markets to track cattle as they move through the value chain.

The data–logging project is just one component of a larger CCIA initiative intended to prepare the beef industry for the possibility of future federal legislation that may require all industry players — including ranches that sell locally and producers importing cattle — to report animal movement from one premises to another.

New Technology Is Vital to Support Sustainable Intensification of Farming', Industry Event Has Said  
Farming UK | September 3, 2016
Although almost half of the farmers surveyed as part of the Sustainable Intensification Platform had used some type of decision support tool, the review team discovered that of the hundreds of tools found, the vast majority were not widely implemented or known about.

Some of the promising technologies that are available to help farmers increase yield without compromising soil quality and environmental factors, are to be discussed at a NIAB and Agri–Tech East workshop 'Innovations for Sustainable Intensification' on 14th September 2016.

Conference Puts Biodiversity, Regeneration at Heart of Livestock Farming
3LM | September 21, 2016
The conference is being produced by 3LM, a member of the Savory Network, which champions holistic land and livestock management.

Daniela Howell, CEO of Savory Institute, explains: "We all play a part, through the choices of what we eat, to send a signal to the marketplace. We want to eat a product that regenerates our soil, our climate, and our social fabric. The same with what we wear. This is what we'll be exploring and unveiling in the conversations we'll have at this gathering."

Q and A with Author/Livestock Producer Nicolette Hahn Niman  
UC Food Observer | September 21, 2016
"My message has been that animals play an extremely important role in the food system — including an ecologically optimal one. At the same time, humans have a deep responsibility to provide them good lives. We can and must do this." Nicolette Hahn Niman is a vegetarian who defends beef…and advocates for the benefits of sustainable livestock production.

She is a writer, attorney and livestock rancher. Nicolette has written two books about sustainable meat production: Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production and Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms.

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Ahold Delhaize Ranks Among Industry Leaders in Food And Staples Retailing Sector In The 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index
EPR Retail News | September 8, 2016
Ahold Delhaize was recognized today in the 2016 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World) for the first time as a new company, ranking among the industry leaders in the Food and Staples Retailing sector. Ahold Delhaize received a total score of 79, well above the Food and Staples Retailing industry average score of 44. The DJSI World is a leading benchmark for investors who integrate sustainability considerations into their portfolios.

FARM Program, Merck Jointly Offer Animal Care Training Webinars
Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs | September 13, 2016
The Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Program announced today that it is teaming up with Merck Animal Health to offer a series of informational webinars as part of the FARM Version 3.0 rollout. The webinar series will further build upon the strong partnership between the Merck Dairy Care365 Program and the FARM Program that was established last year.

The National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) and Merck Animal Health announced last summer that the two groups would collaborate to help ensure a comprehensive, industry–wide approach to employee training and animal care in the dairy industry. Through the partnership, dairy producers across the country have access to the tools, resources and workshops available through the Merck Animal Health Dairy C.A.R.E. Initiative, which is designed to complement FARM.

CCA Report: First Canadian Beef Industry Conference Brought the Industry Together
Dan Darling, Canadian Cattlemen | September 19, 2016
The Canadian beef industry is comprised of many moving parts and numerous professions up and down the value chain. Beef production begins with the producers on the ground who choose to raise beef cattle for a living, a choice which creates a ripple effect for numerous related specialists — agrologists, economists, veterinarians, commerce services including insurance, banks, lawyers, technology companies and many more.

The Canadian Beef Industry Conference (CBIC) was an excellent demonstration of the breadth of the beef industry, with participation from nearly every part of the value chain, bringing the vast majority of players under one roof.

A Sustainability Leader's Lessons of a Lifetime  
Bob Langert, GreenBiz | September 6, 2016
The first two parts of this series focused on sustainability leadership during times of turbulence and turmoil. Let me shift and talk about what I learned from others that really stuck with me and, ultimately, altered what I did.

My first boss at McDonald's was the best mentor for me, Shelby Yastrow — Uncle Shelby, as he liked to be called. He was brilliant. The fact that he liked being called "Uncle Shelby" showed his refreshing approachability. Shelby was McDonald's top lawyer.

Four things he passed on to me:

1.He believed in developing relationships that built trust. He would get to know the top guys personally. They trusted Shelby implicitly. Shelby allowed me to do many things that had no immediate return, such as traveling the world, visiting with lots of people. He knew that these years of relationship building would make a better leader later on. He was absolutely right.

2. He insisted I work on less, not more. He wanted me to focus just one or two big things. He wanted big impact and led by example, with extreme focus.

3. He hated meetings and "consensus." He said if you have a committee to choose carpeting, they would pick beige. I adopted his attitude about avoiding meetings, although they are sometimes necessary.

4. He told me to ask for forgiveness, not permission, and he meant it. He wanted me to take initiative, take chances and apologize later, if necessary. I loved him for that.

Elanco Launches Revolutionary Immune Restorative for Dairy Cows
Farming UK | September 8, 2016
A new, first–of–its–kind product promises to revolutionise the approach to transition disease, helping to restore dairy cows' immune system and protect them when they are most vulnerable. Elanco Animal Health has launched Imrestor as a new way to address immune suppression in dairy cows, helping them fight off transition disease and maximise their productivity potential.

During the Vital 90 Days – 60 days before to 30 days after calving – dairy cows can suffer a dip in their natural immunity, leaving them vulnerable to diseases such as mastitis1, metritis2, and retained placenta3.Ensuring dairy cows have the ability to defend themselves against common transition diseases is key to avoiding the cost, stress and frustration associated with treating them.

Imrestor gives cows this ability by boosting the number and function of neutrophils – key defence cells that target and destroy harmful bacteria.

Cargill, Heifer International Create Partnership In China To Improve Farmer Livelihoods, Strengthen Agricultural Practices And Increase Food Security
PR Newswire | Sept. 15, 2016
A partnership between Cargill Animal Nutrition and Heifer International is enabling the expansion of 450 women–led, family–owned poultry farms in Qingshen, China. These farms will receive chicks, business training and access to nutrition expertise and veterinary support.

The Qingshen Sustainable Livelihood and Community Holistic Development Project initially will provide 150 small–scale farms with 100 baby chicks each and training in poultry–raising methods, go–to–market strategies and advanced animal nutrition strategies. The participants of the project will primarily be women–led households, where families are dispersed due to greater job opportunities in urban areas, a common occurrence in the selected communities.
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Livestock – Opportunity and Threat for a Sustainable Latin America
Orlando Milesi, Inter Press Service | September 4, 2016
Stockbreeding generates enormous profits in Latin America, but it also has a broad and varied impact on the environment, which means it must urgently be turned into a sustainable, green–friendly, socially accepted and profitable activity.

"The expansion of livestock production in the countries of Latin America represents both an opportunity and a threat for sustainable development in the region," FAO animal health officer Deyanira Barrero told IPS.

"On one hand, it's an opportunity to generate wealth and mitigate poverty, if good political and policy decisions are made and sustainable, environmentally–friendly livestock production systems are promoted. On the other, it's a threat if the activity continues to expand without taking into consideration the environmental costs and the potential effects in terms of the marginalisation of small–scale producers," she said.

Meat & Livestock Australia Pumps Cash into Feed
Oscar Rousseau, Global Meat News | September 6, 2016
Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), the country's red meat levy board, will invest $12.7m to bolster the competitiveness of feedlot operators via an innovation and marketing push. The levy board will invest more than it did last year in grain–fed beef verticals, with total investment rising by around AU$100,000 compared to last year.

"For feedlot operators to remain competitive and sustainable in the long–term, MLA's research, development and adoption programs need to deliver outcomes that improve their bottom line," said Des Rinehart, MLA's grain–fed, live export and goat program manager.

Rinehart described investment in R&D as "vital" to ensure the intrinsically–linked productivity and profitability of the beef industry in Australia is strengthened.

Protecting Disappearing Livestock Breeds  
Food Tank | September 7, 2016
According to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), close to 17 percent of the world's livestock breeds face extinction. Many of these livestock breeds are indigenous, adapted to local conditions with long agricultural and pastoral traditions. Africa alone is home to more than 150 cataloged breeds of cattle.

Poor farmers often raise indigenous breeds, managing herds both to maintain diversity and to support community livelihoods. This direct human involvement in cultivating agricultural biodiversity is "inherently linked to sustainable use," according to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Fertility in Focus as Cattle Herd Rebuilds
Queensland Country Life | September 7, 2016
Where growth and carcase traits have long dominated selection pressure for beef producers looking to increase kilograms per hectare, herd rebuilding has shifted the focus to total profitability and the role fertility plays in that.

Research into the contribution of puberty in heifers to herd reproductive performance has been making solid strides, with imaging technology paving the way for new approaches.

Listening to Consumers to Maintain Agriculture's Social Licence
The Sheep Site | September 15, 2016
"In the past conversations about agriculture were happening without us," said Trish Jordan, Monsanto Canada's head of Public and Industry Affairs, during a presentation at the Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary on August 10th.

"When you aren't engaged in the conversation, others step in and have that conversation for you. Over the last few years we have tried to remedy that situation. We've engaged in many conversations, generated a lot of online content, and shared the positive stories of not only what we feel we are contributing to the industry, but what you are doing as farmers."

China Will Resume Limited Imports of US Beef After a Ban Long Seen as Political  
Time | September 23, 2016
For 13 years, people living in China couldn't savor an American steak. But new regulations announced on Thursday mean that some American beef is welcome back in China, reversing a ban instituted after an outbreak of mad–cow disease in the U.S. in 2003.

Chinese officials will still limit U.S. beef imports, only allowing in cattle younger than 30 months. Exactly how American cattle traders will contend with Chinese quarantine requirements is not yet clear. But for an American industry that relies increasingly on global demand, especially amid a declining taste for beef at home, the China news is welcome. (Chinese restrictions on Canadian beef are also being lifted.)

"The United States produces the highest–quality beef in the world," said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in a statement, "and China's 1.3 billion consumers are an important market for U.S. producers."

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