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


Executive Director's Message

I want to use this week's Connect to thank everyone who made GCSB16 such a success. It takes a huge amount of effort and involvement to put on such a conference as most of you will know. Firstly, hats off to Mona, Scott and Katie, our administrative team. They have been focused on this for well over a year now, and the level of input they had extends to every detail of the conference; without them we certainly could not have done what we did. Next come the CRSB and CCA team; Fawn, Monica and Cherie who of course co–hosted the event; again huge attention to detail and pulling out all the stops to ensure that the field trip was excellent, and that liaison in country went so smoothly beforehand helped enormously.

Without our sponsors (and Katie, who did such a good job of bringing them in), we could never hold a conference. Our very grateful thanks therefore to Cargill at Diamond level, Golden State Foods, Marfrig, Keystone, JBS Canada and Zoetis at Platinum level; A&W, Merck and WWF at Gold level; CRSB, ALMA, Elanco, Dawn Meats, GrowSafe systems, INALCA, OSI and Rabobank at Silver level and Ducks Unlimited, Nature Conservancy Canada and Van Drie group as supporters. Together these sponsors enabled us to select an excellent venue and bring in a wealth of speakers while keeping registration costs at reasonable levels for our members.

Last, but very definitely not least, all of the participants, from the Keynote speakers, the panel participants, breakout speakers and moderators all brought an impressive amount of expertise together, and the audience redoubled that. In each session from the plenaries to the breakouts I was impressed by the level of engagement and insight we got through sharing global experiences. I hope that you will agree with me when I say that this really was a milestone in GRSB's development, showing that our Roundtable network is now truly delivering membership value though convening and sharing such a breadth and depth of expertise.

To everyone who came and all who made it such a success, thank you once again!

I am only adding the articles that really relate to the conference this week, along with the Twitter feed with hashtag #GCSbeef16.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Beef Sector Gets Good Grades for Sustainability 
Barbara Duckworth, The Western Producer | October 7, 2016
The Canadian Round Table on Sustainable Beef has released its national beef sustainability assessment that shows the industry is doing many things well but has some areas needing improvement.

The round table consisting of 93 members from agriculture producers to major food corporations commissioned Deloitte to conduct the life cycle analysis in 2014 to look at the social, economic and environmental impacts of beef production in Canada.

Released at the global conference on sustainable beef, held in Banff Oct. 4–7. Highlights of the assessment included the study's results on water, greenhouse gas emissions, land use, waste, social assessment of workers, local communities, value chains and regulations from farm to the finished product and economic assessment.
The full report may be viewed HERE.

Grazing the Net: Cargill's 'Pasture Crafted' Beef
Greg Henderson, Drovers | October 7, 2016
Cargill Meat Solutions will soon launch its Pasture Crafted Beef brand, which will be grass–fed, grain–finished, "guaranteed tender and traceable to birth on sustainably operated ranches." Cargill says the product is "designed for the socially conscious beef consumer that can't afford to go all the way to organic."

The company also announced it will keep its headquarters in Wichita and that it will build a new building. Cargill expects its 800 Wichita–based employees to be in the new building in 2018.

Beef: With Adjectives  
John Maday, Bovine Veterinarian | October 5, 2016
Consumers around the world increasingly want adjectives with their beef, and shop based on values as well as value. Keynote speaker Dr. David Hughes, emeritus professor of food marketing at Imperial College, London, made those points as he kicked off this week's Global Conference on Sustainable Beef in Banff, Alberta.

In most international markets, Hughes says, consumers see beef as a premium product. They expect it to be more expensive than poultry or pork, but their expectations are high. They look for adjectives such as natural, free–range, hormone free, antibiotic free and yes, sustainably produced.

The conference, co–hosted by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB), will explore global, regional and local strategies for improving sustainability in beef production, and how to communicate progress to consumers.

Both organizations, and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable beef, which launched in 2015, stress that sustainable beef production should involve all aspects of the beef value chain, with emphasis on production being environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

What Other Countries Can Learn from the Canadian Beef Industry's Sustainability Progress  
Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit | October 7, 2016
The global beef industry confronts greater challenges as environmental groups call out the sector for what they say are its negative impacts on the planet, communities and climate change. While the evidence suggests beef consumption in the U.S. and Canada may have increased last year after 40 years of decline, it continues to decline in other developed countries.

Environmental and health concerns explain part of this long–term decrease. Earlier this year, the Netherlands' health authority recommended that citizens reduce meat consumption to less than 500 grams (17.6 ounces) a week. And calls for a tax on red meat echoed across Denmark. Then there are the human rights issues, as in Canada, where the beef industry in Alberta says it is dependent on foreign workers to perform jobs in meatpacking plants that residents do not want.

David Hughes, a professor at Imperial College in London, told an audience at this week's Global Conference for Sustainable Beef in Banff, Alberta, that the industry indeed has opportunities. But for the beef industry to gain the trust of consumers and to thrive, it must understand, "It's about value and it's about values."

As U.S. Meat Consumption Increases, the Beef Sector Must Embrace Sustainability  
Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit | October 6, 2016
According to the Dutch banking giant Rabobank, one of the world's largest lenders for the food and agriculture sector, meat consumption in the U.S. increased by 5 percent in 2015 — the largest such increase since the 1970s. While Rabobank's analysts say such growth was relatively flat for beef consumption, one of the beef industry's competing trade groups, the National Chicken Council, suggests American beef consumption is on an uptick after years of decline, with another incremental increase most likely to occur next year.

To that end, this week the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) held an international conference in a major beef–producing nation, Canada. This loose association of national sustainable beef councils says it met in Banff, Alberta, Canada, to reconcile localized approaches with the desire to ensure the industry can be more responsible and offer a global solution. One of the biggest challenges the association faces is its ties to deforestation, a problem many environmentalists pin on the beef industry, notably inBrazil but especially in Paraguay, an emerging beef power.

But according to GRSB's executive director, Ruaraidh Petre, the links between land use and raising cattle are nuanced. Petre says the careful raising of cattle can actually provide a net environmental benefit and, in some cases, ranching makes more sense on the environmental front than raising many crops.

Patty Promises: McDonald's Finds a Starting Point
Victoria G. Myers, Progressive Farmer | October 6, 2016
Two years ago, McDonald's Corporation made news at the annual meeting of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association by announcing it would begin buying sustainable beef by 2016.

Bob Langert, then head of the company's environmental and sustainability operations division and since retired, spoke with DTN at the time. Asked to explain what "sustainable beef" meant to the multi–billion–dollar corporation, he admitted the term was confusing and nebulous. He believed, however, a definition would come from the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB).

Wednesday, the GRSB describes sustainable beef as a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes planet, people, animals and progress. Not only did the GRSB develop a definition of sustainability, but at the group's meeting a McDonald's executive reported they had indeed made good on their promise to source verified sustainable beef for their restaurants.

Jeffrey Fitzpatrick–Stilwell, senior manager sustainability for McDonald's restaurants of Canada, admitted initially the company "had a stretch goal without knowing how we were going to meet it." Yet this year, having worked through the process, they purchased a portion of beef from verified sustainable sources in Canada.

Today, McDonald's can trace beef "from birth to burger," reported Fitzpatrick–Stilwell. He said they verified 121 sustainable cow–calf producers, 20 feedlots, two packers and one patty plant in Canada. A total of 8,967 head of cattle from a fully–verified supply chain were used by the company.

Canadian Carbons: New Tax on Canada's Horizon  
Victoria G. Myers, Progressive Farmer | October 5, 2016
Attendees of this year's Global Conference on Sustainable Beef toured ranches in Alberta, Canada, on Tuesday, just one day after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dropped his carbon tax bombshell on the country. Concerns were high this federally mandated tax could negatively affect cattle ranchers, compounding challenges to stay competitive on the beef market's international playing field.

It is less than a year since Trudeau was sworn in as Canada's 23rd prime minister. Canadian Press News reports he said: "If neither price nor cap–and–trade is in place by 2018, the government of Canada will implement a price in that jurisdiction."

His tough talk came with few specifics. Ranchers Cherie Copithorne–Barnes and David Sibbald, both running family cattle operations in Alberta, said they were eagerly awaiting details of the new federal tax.

Barnes called the announcement a "surprise" and told DTN she feared the new tax would put her expenses through the roof. She added no one was talking about carbon sequestration on the part of ranchers and how it might offset any coming carbon tax.

As we heard from Andrew Ogilvie during the conference, Australia's Beef Sustainability Framework is being circulated for review.
Business and Community Views to Drive a Thriving Australian Beef Industry
Medianet | September 23, 2016
Retailers, special interest groups and customers can now have their say on what sustainable beef means to them and help develop the first–ever Australian Beef Sustainability Framework. Sustainability Steering Group (SSG) Chair Prue Bondfield says this round of consultation, after three months of extensive industry consultation will help guide development of the Framework.

Consultation will help identify priority areas for industry – from on–farm, feedlot, transport and processing perspectives," Mrs Bondfield says. From there we will develop indicators to track performance using existing data sets. The Framework will not establish or endorse measurement systems at an individual business level. The Framework will be pre–competitive; it's about the whole industry and being able to paint a clear and honest picture of sustainable beef production. It's not a marketing exercise, we need to acknowledge where there is work to do for longevity and prosperity of the sector.

Mrs Bondfield says the Framework and the subsequent reporting of the industry's progress will ensure the industry is transparent and meeting the expectations of consumers and stakeholders. The beef industry has clearly identified in the Meat Industry Strategic Plan 2020 that improved transparency is a priority. We are now inviting stakeholders outside industry to help us define what sustainable beef is. Our commitment to them is to listen to and consider all constructive views.

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