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


Executive Director's Message

It's encouraging to note that there is an increase in the number of articles we see emphasising the positive role that well–managed livestock can play in the overall food production system.

The Livestock Global Alliance in particular seeks to highlight livestock's important role amongst global public institutions, which is certainly needed, particularly with the rise of several influential think tanks that have chosen to ignore the positive in favour of anti–livestock policy advice.

Of course, the key to benefits from livestock rests in what "well managed" is, and demonstrating that it is happening. One of the discussions we had in our board meeting last week was about the new Council structure, and the need to prioritise the work on demonstrating impact. We are actively looking for people to lead and participate in this work, and I am approaching some individuals to help with it.

As always, we are also open to volunteers, and particularly those who have a background or expertise in data collection, handling and dissemination. If you or someone in your organisation might be able to participate, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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  Welcome to the Table...
Good Food Futures LTD
Dateline: April 2017 | Constituency: Consulting Member
An independent organization dedicated to sustainable food and farming solutions, communications and advocacy. It was created with a vision that the future of the food chain will be good for people, animals and the planet. Good Food Futures works in partnership with diverse stakeholders to create tangible, impactful change. Whether working on the ground on technical on–farm solutions, assessing and reporting on supply chain sustainability, representing key stakeholders in major international decision–making processes, or helping shape strategy and communications to build positive visibility for sustainability efforts, their work drives forward a sustainable future for livestock.

A Review of Sustainability Enhancements in the Beef Value Chain: State–of–the–Art and Recommendations of Future Improvements (PDF)
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef | March 22, 2017
To better address consumer concerns, the beef sector is working on strategies to enhance the sustainability of all aspects of the beef supply chain. Among these strategies are (1) the development of science–based frameworks and indicators capable of measuring progress at all stages of beef production; (2) the engagement of different stakeholders along the beef supply chain at regional and global levels; and (3) the improvement of communication among stakeholders and transparency towards consumers.

Progress on these three fronts was presented during the 2nd Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, hosted by the Global and Canadian Roundtables for Sustainable Beef. During the event, there was a clear understanding that the beef industry is substantially advancing efforts to continuously improve its sustainability, both at regional and global levels, by developing assessment frameworks and indicators to measure progress.

However, it is also clear that the beef sector has a need to more clearly define the concept of beef sustainability, strengthen cooperation and exchange of information among national roundtables for sustainable beef, as well as improve the flow of information along the supply chain. An improved transparency in the beef sector will help consumers make more informed decisions about food products.

2017 Rangeland Summit
University of California Cooperative Extension | January 18, 2017
The 2017 Rangeland Summit was held again at the Stockton Ag Center. For anyone who missed the Summit, or for those that would like to see any of the presentations again, the slides can all be found here. For more information about the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, please see their website here.

Blue Apron Acquires Bill Niman's Sustainable Meat Company  
Jan Lee, Triple Pundit | March 24, 2017
For many who are familiar with Bill Niman's efforts to reform how the country's beef, pork and poultry industries treat their most prized stock, Thursday may have seemed like a sad day.

But to hear Niman tell it, the sale of BN Ranch to the blue–ribbon pre–packaged meal service Blue Apron culminates a journey to his life's dream. As a member of Blue Apron's staff, he'll be able to continue influencing the way America raises the animals it counts on for food.

Dawn Meats Sets Out Sustainability Targets  
Aiden Fortune, Meat Trades Journal | March 27, 2017
SBeef and lamb processor Dawn Meats has set the ambitious target of becoming "Europe's most sustainable meat company". In its first Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report, it pledged to cut water and energy usage by 40% and CO2 emission intensity by 50%by 2025.

NT Cattlemen's Association President Calls on Beef Industry to Protect And Enhance Competitive Advantage
Carl Curtain, ABC Online | March 30, 2017
The president of the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association (NTCA) says the top six inches of soil remains the cornerstone to prosperity for the northern beef industry.

Around 500 delegates from around Australia and overseas are in Darwin this week for the NTCA's annual conference.

A number of guest speakers at the event include the Minister for Northern Australia Matt Cananvan, former minister for trade and investment Andrew Robb, and former NT chief ministers Adam Giles and Paul Henderson.

Soil Health Is More Than Just Cover Crops  
Jeff Goodwin, Hay and Forage Growers | February 15, 2017
For more than a decade, a movement has been taking the agriculture industry by storm. That movement is called soil health. This movement was not born in a laboratory nor by legislation. It was born by farmers and ranchers who wanted to do things differently.

Sixty years ago, the agriculture industry was operating on cheap feed, cheap fertilizer, and cheap fuel. Our industry and our science during that time period focused on the chemical and physical characteristics of soils with little to no consideration of soil biological interactions. During this period, the prices of feed, fertilizer, and fuel eventually elevated to the point at which they became unsustainable for many operations. Some farmers had to make a choice, continue doing what was always done or find new ways to farm.

Reaping the Benefits of Perennial Grazing  
Rhonda McCurry, No–Till Farmer | March 8, 2017
Cows graze in native pastures at Thompson Farms, managed by Osage City, Kan., no–tillers Keith and Ben Thompson. The Thompson cow herd is comprised of crossbreeds that are bred to calve in April and May. During calving season Ben runs them on cover crops, and likes rye the best for cows that are due in late spring.

The Thompson family can speak volumes about no–till practices and soil health. But what they focus on now is affectionately referred to as "regenerative farming" through a rotation of perennial grazing.

Sustainably Managed Livestock Are Essential to Livelihoods and Healthy Agro–Ecosystems (YouTube Video)
Livestock Global Alliance | May 24, 2016
Farm animals are critical for human development. A small daily amount of meat, milk and eggs can contribute greatly to a healthy diet. Livestock contribute up to 60% of agricultural GDP in developing nations. They provide livelihoods for some 1.3 billion people.Livestock can help to maintain healthy ecosystems and regenerate degraded land. They provide natural fertiliser and renewable energy to help manage land sustainably. Sustainable livestock, sustainable lives. Watch 1:21 Video HERE.

Government of Pará Defends Environmental Regularity of Meat Industry
Agencia Para | March 30, 2017
Government of Pará, parliamentarians from Pará state, entities and companies of the meat industry in the state, met this Wednesday in Brasília, with the Minister of the Environment, Sarney Filho, president and directors of the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Resources Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama), to deal with the unfolding of Operation Cold Meat. The hearing was requested by Senator Flexa Ribeiro (PSDB / PA) and also had several members of the parliamentary group of Pará in the National Congress.

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Inalca Food & Beverage Acquires Bright View Hong Kong  
ESM – The European Supermarket Magazine | March 21, 2017
Italian company Inalca, through its subsidiary Inalca Food & Beverage (IF&B), has acquired 57.3% of Bright View Trading, Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong–based company is a major player in the distribution of Italian specialty food products in the former British colony.With a 2016 turnover of €9 million, it has over 500 customers among the major restaurants and hotels in Hong Kong and Macau. The founding partner will hold on to a 32.9% stake. The remaining 9.8% will stay with the third partner Michele Bernacchia, who will become the general manager.

Elanco Efforts Highlight Commitment to Antibiotic Stewardship
Beef Magazine | March 22, 2017
Shared–class antibiotics are a valuable tool for veterinarians practicing in the beef industry today. Learn about Elanco's commitment to the responsible use of these tools to ensure continued access.

Continued antibiotic stewardship has resonated throughout the industry and motivated Elanco to focus on research to equip veterinarians with the tools they need to help their clients navigate these market dynamics — especially when it comes to managing costly diseases such as liver abscesses.

Cargill C.E.O. Decries Menace of Creeping Protectionism
Josh Sosland, Baking Business | March 28, 2017
While trade fosters prosperity and peace, trade barriers heighten the risk of economic weakness and major political and social upheaval, said David W. MacLennan, chief executive officer of Cargill.

Speaking March 28 at the Financial Times Global Commodities Summit, Mr. MacLennan advocated against "me–first" trade stances. The summit was held at the Beau Rivage Palace in Lausanne.

"Severe economic conditions — combined with other social and political factors — can also push governments to the edge and, in worst cases, spark civil unrest," Mr. MacLennan warned. "Poverty and conflict all too often force people to leave countries they love in search of a better life for themselves and their children."

Beef Cattle Conference and Ag Tour set April 25–26 in Canadian
Kay Ledbetter, AgriLife Today | March 28, 2017
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Hemphill County will be hosting the third annual Beef Cattle Conference and Ag Tour on April 25–26 in the Jones Pavilion, 1101 N. Sixth St. in Canadian.

"This beef cattle conference addresses the huge market swings of the industry giving producers strategies and information on how to survive and make the most of this situation," said Andy Holloway, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Hemphill County and event coordinator.

Dr. Guy Ellis, veterinarian with Merck Animal Health in Clarendon, will make the last educational presentation, Cow, Calf Health and Technology to Enhance Herd Health, Reproduction and Marketing.

Worst May Be Over in Brazil Meat Scandal as Curbs Lifted
Gerson Freitas Jr. & Sabrina Valle, Bloomberg | March 30, 2017
After 11 days of arrests, bribery allegations and a full–blown international food–safety scare, the worst may finally be over for Brazil's embattled meat industry.

Having been shut out of some of its most important markets, Brazilian meat companies have regained access to most of them in recent days. Hong Kong, the largest destination for Brazilian beef, was the latest to ease restrictions.

"It brings relief for the industry," said Francisco Turra, a former minister of agriculture who now heads the Brazilian Animal Protein Association. The move also "reduces the possibility of supply glut in domestic market."

Brazil's biggest meat companies, JBS SA and BRF SA, appear to have largely weathered the storm, despite being implicated in the police probe (both deny any wrongdoing).

JBS, which last week announced a self–imposed 35 percent cut in beef output in Brazil, is now planning to ease the reduction with a new plan taking effect on April 3, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the information isn't public. The company is seeking to adjust inventory after temporary export bans and a drop in domestic sales, it said earlier in a statement.

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GRSB Tour of Canadian Beef Ranch (YouTube Video)
A short film from the CRSB ranch tour over in Alberta before the start of our conference last year. Watch 3:04 Video HERE.

It's Time for Third–Party Audits of Restaurant Menu Claims
Gregory Bloom, The Meating Place (free subscription) | March 30, 2017
Here's my odd confession; I sometimes go to extremes to verify restaurant menu claims. Yes, even to the point of dumpster diving!

Even well–known national chains are guilty of this. I guess they figure that since there's no 'menu police,' and consumers aren't going to know the difference, what the heck, they just put all the crazy consumer–driven, trendy claims on the menu they want. Just tell 'em what they want to hear and sell, sell, sell away… Seems to be the mantra of the day…

The most common suspicious menu claims I see are these: organic, never–ever, locally–sourced, grass–fed, hormone–free, cage–free, pasture–raised and antibiotic–free. When I see these claims on a menu, I either ask to talk with the chef, or I ask the waiter for a smartphone picture of the label on the meat box.

These requests usually come up empty. Nobody seems to be aware of how to validate their employer's menu claims.

China's Relaxation on Brazilian Imports Eases Mood   
By Jon Condon. BEEF Central | March 28, 2017
Despite China and several other large importing countries dropping suspensions on Brazilian meat imports on Sunday, Brazil still faces some short–term difficulties in export and domestic markets as a result of its Government investigation into corruption in the meat inspection system.

What Really Happened to the Bison?
Rebecca Colnar, Tri–State Livestock News | March 8, 2017
The fact that huge herds of bison used to wander the plains in search of food and water is known to all. Number estimates of bison swing widely from 30 million to 65 million.

The other fact known to most is this symbol of the west very nearly faced extinction in the 1880s when bison populations numbered only 464. Today the accepted, and adamantly proclaimed, belief is bison were hunted almost to extinction by professional buffalo hunters with Sharps rifles, notably for the animal's hides and tongues. The common 21st century belief is relentless hunting across the prairies was exclusively the reason for the collapse of the bison population.

That is not necessarily so, says researcher Dr. Sierra Stoneberg Holt who has spent considerable time investigating the demise of the venerable animals.

Buffalo Meat Industry Facing Government Shutdowns in India
Ellen Barry & Suhasini Raj, New York Times | March 24, 2017
In recent years, as demand for cheap protein raged in China and the Persian Gulf countries, India quietly became the world's largest exporter of meat — chiefly flash–frozen water buffalo, which approached $5 billion in exports in 2015.

Slaughterhouses proliferated in the west of Uttar Pradesh, and the surrounding villages underwent an economic transformation. Children raised on plain roti began to eat lentils twice a day.

But that spurt of prosperity came under threat this week, when a new Hindu–right government in the state, led by the fiery cleric Yogi Adityanath, began shutting down parts of the Muslim–dominated buffalo meat industry. Hindu activists say the industry conceals the illegal slaughter of cows, which are sacred to Hindus.

Why I Would Not Advocate Vegetarianism
Sunita Narain, Down to Earth | March 17, 2017
I differed. As an Indian (I underline Indian) environmentalist I would not advocate vegetarianism for the following reasons. One, India is a secular nation and the culture of eating food differs between communities, regions and religions.

This idea of India is non–negotiable for me as it reflects our richness and our reality. Two, meat is an important source of protein for a large number of people, hence critical for their nutritional security.

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