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


Executive Director's Message

Looking at projections for the beef trade in 2017, there are some interesting developments. Legal direct export of Indian (buffalo) beef to China is a significant change; in the past this has come into China through grey channels in Vietnam and Hong Kong. Total meat (all species) imports to China increased by 2.13 Million tonnes in 2016, (increase mostly of pork), and the country is now the leading import market for beef and veal worldwide accounting for over 30% of world imports in 2016 and expected to do so again in 2017.

The gap between local production and consumption of beef in China has been widening for several years, and though the dairy herd is increasing the total herd is in decline; beef animals still account for 77% of the Chinese herd and while work has started on improving productivity, the majority is still in small herds and local supply cannot meet demand. While China lifted their ban on US beef last September, the conditions attached to that and subsequent developments may mean that trade does not open up as anticipated; some US beef does enter China through grey channels in Hong Kong. To put the two import channels into perspective, although there was a clamp down in 2015 on grey imports they still accounted for 70% of beef imports in 2016. Prices have stabilised from their high point in 2015, but there is a general move away from offal towards more higher quality muscle cuts.

All of this indicates that demand will remain high, though price sensitive and an increasing interest in quality may lead to new suppliers to replace buffalo from India. Current official imports are from six countries (Au, Ur, Br, NZ, Ar, Ca), to which India will now be added.  Given that food safety and sustainability awareness is increasing in China, this is certainly a good moment to engage with both importers and with the local industry – there are expressed concerns regarding local production including overgrazing in rangelands and responsible use of medicines. An approach that increases awareness of sustainability initiatives elsewhere and encourages the development of a Chinese sustainability initiative has potential to support many of our members.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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How to Step Up Our Advocacy Efforts In 2017
Amanda Radke, Beef Magazine | January 28, 2017
Bridging the gap between consumers and producers is a critical component to a sustainable, profitable beef industry. Find out how using the hashtag #cattletales can help achieve our advocacy goals in 2017.

In between feeding cattle, calving cows, thawing out waterers, paying bills and taking care of the kids and grandkids, making connections with consumers should be at the top of every food producer's list of things to accomplish in the new year. Why? Because without our consumer, we have no demand.

We're Not Actually Listening to The Consumer
Eric Fuchs, Beef Producer | January 18, 2017
The Missouri Department of Agriculture recently hosted their "Governors Conference on Agriculture," which was a really good event showcasing what is being done in Missouri with all aspects of agriculture. I have to say this was one of the better conferences I have attended. The planners did a great job showing what is great about Missouri's agriculture with relevant speakers and exhibits.

Keep Customer in Loop to Reap the Benefits
Jamie–Lee Oldfield, Weekly Times Now | January 16, 2017
Integrating the supply chain, and keeping the customer in mind, will go a long way to creating a sustainable beef industry, according to Frank Carbone of AgriFoods Global, previously McDonald's Asia Pacific Consortium.

The company operates 19 grinding operations worldwide, sending Australian and New Zealand beef to make McDonald's patties in countries including US, Japan,–Malaysia, Ukraine and Russia.

Mr Carbone, who spoke at the Meat and Livestock AGM last year, said what surprised him when he entered the beef ¬industry was the number of disconnects happening from producer to consumer.

Food Companies Ranked on Animal Welfare
Meatingplace | January 27, 2017
Animal welfare has become a key business issue for the world's leading food companies, which are paying increased attention to the matter within their supply chains, concludes a report assessing 99 major brands.

Almost three–quarters (73 percent) of companies have published farm animal welfare policies, up from 46 percent in 2012, according to the findings compiled by Compassion in World Farming, World Animal Protection and investment firm Coller Capital.

BIF Guidelines Ninth Edition Has Changes
Today's Producer | January 18, 2017
The ninth edition of Uniform Guidelines for Beef Improvement Programs –represents a legacy of work that spans more than 50 years of cooperation among the various segments of the beef cattle industry. The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) board of directors approved changes to the ninth edition during its fall 2016 board meeting. The updated guidelines are now posted to the Beef Improvement Federation website.

Costs, Benefits and Challenges of Sustainable Livestock Intensification in a Major Deforestation Frontier in the Brazilian Amazon
MDPI | January 21, 2017
This study presents an assessment of the economic and environmental feasibility of sustainable livestock intensification in São Félix do Xingu municipality, a deforestation frontier with an area of more than 8.5 million hectares, and home to the largest cattle herd in Brazil.

Industry to Producers: Don't Miss Chance to Shape Sustainability Framework
Beef Central | January 24, 2017
Early reactions from industry groups to the draft Australian Beef Sustainability framework released last week have been both positive and negative. However, regardless of their individual, all groups contacted by Beef Central have emphasised the importance of producers taking the time to read the document and provide feedback while the opportunity still exists.

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While Cargill's report on forests focuses on commodities other than beef; their commitment to deforestation free supply chains is clear. They also have separate sustainability pages for different commodities on their site, (including one for beef) The link to the report is here.
Cargill's Progress on Building Deforestation–Free Supply Chains Outlined in New Report 
CSR Wire | January 16, 2017
In a report issued today, Cargill presented progress on its efforts to meet its commitment to eliminate deforestation from its supply chains. The first Cargill Report on Forests covers on–the–ground actions within six priority supply chains and global collaborations to advance sustainable agriculture.

Cargill worked with numerous global partners to engage more than 148,000 farmers and established a baseline for measuring tree cover loss by mapping the sourcing areas of nearly 2,000 locations across 14 countries.

Speed Up Tissue Sampling  
DTN The Progressive Farmer | January 16, 2017
What was once a challenge of collecting blood drops from a reluctant heifer or bull calf chute side can now be done in mere seconds with new tissue sampling tools. Recent field tests by Allflex USA show collecting DNA with the Allflex TSU averaged just 10 seconds per head.

"The science of beef genomics testing is making big advances and so are the companion technologies that enable it," said Scott Holt, North American marketing manager at Allflex USA Inc. "Making DNA sampling fast and clean makes it easier for the producer to adopt genomic–assisted selection, management and marketing."

Grassfed Cattle Industry Restructure a Priority for New Cattle Council CEO
James Nason, Beef Central | January 19, 2017
Could 2017 be the year that delivers a long–planned new national grassfed cattle industry representative structure? The path to agreement on the right path for industry advocacy has been long and for many frustratingly slow, spanning several years and numerous consultation with growers, consultant's reports, an number of senate inquiries and various industry committees and working groups.

Preserving Pastures and Beef Industry  
Kristine Tapley, Western Producer (subscription) | January 26, 2017
With cattle markets falling, optimism can be trying. The beef industry has been struggling to retain and attract new producers, while the average age of farmers, at 54, keeps climbing. The next generation of cattle producers might be looking for something different from their career and potentially for good reason. The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef released the National Beef Sustainability Assessment and Strategy this fall.

This assessment gathered great detail from the Canadian beef industry from the three sustain–ability pillars: environment, social and economic. The Canadian beef industry garnered top marks in most categories but producer viability was a weak link in the system.

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New Provincial VBP+ Co–Ordinator Hired in Alberta  
Alberta Express | January 13, 2017
Melissa Downing is the new provincial co–ordinator for the Verified Beef Production Plus program. Downing is an agrologist, and she and her husband raise cattle near Metiskow in east–central Alberta.

This is a pivotal time in the beef industry and VBP+ "has the potential to establish Canada as a leader in sustainable verification and result in increased demand for our beef," she said.

SE Asia Report: Indian Buffalo Seriously Impacting Indo Slaughter Cattle Demand
Ross Ainsworth, Beef Central | January 18, 2017
A reduction in annual export sales for 2017 of about 50 percent is starting to sound more like a fair estimate in light of the impact Indian buffalo meat is having on slaughter cattle demand in Indonesia, writes Dr Ross Ainsworth. The only logical reason for this unprecedented supply and demand situation is that Indian buffalo beef has successfully captured a very large chunk of market share.

Vietnamese Invest Heavily in Australian Cattle Industry  
VietNam.Net | January 18, 2017
Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) has unveiled that the first large–scale purchase of an Australian cattle ranch – for beef production – by a Vietnamese company has been made, in the Northern Territory, south of Katherine. The purchase of the US$13.6 million cattle ranch by An Vien Pastoral Holding and Agriculture Company is the first far–reaching Vietnamese agricultural investment in the land down under on record, says MLA.

Myths Hurting Beef Industry
J.W. Schnarr, Lethbridge Herald | January 20, 2017
The disconnect between the agriculture industry and consumers, and the truth behind some of the myths surrounding the beef industry, were explored by guest speaker Jude Capper at this year's Tiffin Conference.

"(The disconnect) seems to be getting bigger with the rise of media people who like to tell the consumer what they think we do rather than what we actually do," said Capper.

Understanding Fats
Sustainable Food Trust | January 26, 2017
The disconnect between the agriculture industry and consumers, and the truth behind some of the myths surrounding the beef industry, were explored by guest speaker Jude Capper at this year's Tiffin Conference.

China's Pork Output Falls, While Beef Production Rises from Dairy Slaughter  
Dairy Herd Management | January 20, 2017
China's 2016 pork output fell 3.4 percent year–on–year to its lowest level since 2011, the National Statistics Bureau said on Friday, but production of beef hit a decade–high after low milk prices prompted farmers to slaughter more dairy cattle.

Pork output in the world's top producer and consumer of the meat fell to 52.99 million tons for the year after farmers shrank their herds following months of losses in previous years.

2017 World Beef Trade: Major Exporters  
Derrell S. Peel, Drovers Herald | January 24, 2017
Global beef exports are expected to increase year over year in 2017 with growth in several major beef exporting countries supported by growing production in most cases. However, the situations vary among beef exporting countries and market conditions will keep international markets dynamic for the foreseeable future. Beef exports from the top four exporting countries (Brazil, India, Australia and the U.S.) are projected in 2017 to account for 73 percent of total exports from the top ten beef exporting countries.

Trump's Honeymoon Already Over for Ag, It Appears
Burt Rutherford, Beef Magazine | January 24, 2017
How's this for a fast track? Donald Trump is inaugurated on Friday. On Monday, he signs executive orders, one of which withdraws the U.S. from the Trans Pacific Partnership. What's more, he has the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) lined up in his crosshairs. The honeymoon with many in agriculture was over before it ever really began, it appears. And many in ag don't like it.

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