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


Executive Director's Message

It has been an interesting couple of weeks for me, travelling first to Ethiopia for the 7th Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock meeting, and then to China for the International Meat Trade Development Conference.

You have often heard me say that both the majority of the increased demand for beef, and the increase in supply will come from developing countries in the coming decades. This was brought home to me again in both of the countries I have just visited. In Ethiopia, I was able to visit Allana group as well as Verde Beef. Both are investing significant amounts in export facilities; Allana group primarily in slaughterhouses, and Verde Beef in both feed yards and processing. Both will be aimed squarely at markets including the Gulf, South East and East Asia, where demand is booming.

The dichotomy apparent to me was that the Ethiopian human population is already 100 million and is set to double by mid century; so demand is increasing domestically beyond existing supply. While there are a large number of ruminants (50 million cattle and another 50 million small ruminants, plus camels) in the country, the sector has remained to date informal, small scale or pastoralist; productivity per head is low. Local demand is booming, and prices on the local market significantly exceed world ‘commodity' prices for both beef and small ruminant meat.

China is, as you have often read, a rapidly growing market. While the majority of beef consumed is locally produced, increases in both formal and informal imports are growing every year. What may surprise some is the extent of concerns around product sustainability. In China itself, this often refers to the elements of food safety and environmental pollution from production, but for officially imported meat, it extends to environmental performance in general, and therefore comes along with the need for traceability and verification systems. We expect to see an announcement on sustainability commitments by the China Meat Association by October of this year.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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A High–Production Grazing Plan  
Wyatt Bechtel, Drovers | May 05, 2017
Cyclically lower calf prices mean your management is more critical than ever. If you want to increase your pay day next fall, the grazing plans you implement over the next few weeks could have a dramatic impact on the success of your business this year and in years to come. Grazing management has a large impact on your bottom line.

A popular seminar during Cattlemen's College at this year's Cattle Industry Convention focused on grazing practices–rangeland in the western U.S., and improved pasture in the East. Consistent university research shows feed and forage costs represent 50% to 70% of your annual cow costs, so placing more emphasis on grazing management that reduces costs will improve your profitability.

GRSB is a member of the informal grasslands network below, and we welcome our own members' contribution of case studies; see the Network's resources page, case study (PDF) examples and guidelines (PDF) for examples of what members are involved with. Another network of considerable interest to the beef industry is the Global Network on Silvopastoral Systems (PDF). Such systems have huge potential to increase production and reduce land conversion while benefiting biodiversity.
Restoring Value to Grasslands  
Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock | May 2017
Restoring Value to Grasslands action network focuses on maintaining, restoring and enhancing the environmental and economic values of grasslands.

The group promotes their social and cultural functions globally; builds partnership to raise the visibility of grasslands. This action network supports the analysis based on existing studies encouraging innovation from local to global scale.

The article below is in press and the link is the abstract of the corrected proof. You can request a copy of the full article from Anne Mottet, Pierre Gerber or Cees de Haan.
Livestock: On Our Plates or Eating at Our Table? A New Analysis of the Feed / Food Debate
Science Direct | January 2017
Livestock contribute to food security by supplying essential macro– and micro–nutrients, providing manure and draught power, and generating income. But they also consume food edible by humans and graze on pastures that could be used for crop production. Livestock, especially ruminants, are often seen as poor converters of feed into food products. This paper analyses global livestock feed rations and feed conversion ratios, with specific insight on the diversity in production systems and feed materials.

Results estimate that livestock consume 6 billion tonnes of feed (dry matter) annually – including one third of global cereal production – of which 86% is made of materials that are currently not eaten by humans.

New Forage Mixture Benefits Bees, Livestock and Sustainable Ag Research
PR Newswire, Grassland Oregon | May 01/2017
In response to America's urgent needs to protect pollinators and to support sustainable livestock farming, Grassland Oregon, a leading seed research and development company, has introduced a new seed mixture called Pastures for Pollinators, announced Risa DeMasi, co–founder of Grassland Oregon and immediate past chairman of the American Seed Trade Association. Proceeds from the sales of Pastures for Pollinators will be donated to further sustainable agriculture research programs.

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Concrete Solutions Underline Centrality of Livestock to Sustainable Development
James Stapleton, ILRI Clippings | May 8, 2017
Hundreds of global livestock stakeholders gather to strengthen the role of livestock in supporting livelihoods, producing safe food and protecting the environment.

Today, the 7th multi–stakeholder partnership meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock brings together more than 250 livestock specialists from over 50 countries to demonstrate the positive contribution of livestock to the lives and wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people on the planet, and foster the sustainable development of this rapidly–growing sector.

Zoetis Strengthens Its Commitment to Develop Sustainable Livestock Production in Sub–Saharan Africa
Zoetis News Release | May 8, 2017
Zoetis Inc., the largest global animal health company, announced it will receive a US$14.4 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the next three years to develop veterinary diagnostic networks and animal health infrastructure in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda.

Cooperating with the Future: Towards Multiplying the Multiple Benefits of Sustainable Livestock
Susan MacMillan, ILRI Clippings | May 9, 2017
Henning Steinfeld delivered a keynote presentation–Multiple Benefits from Sustainable Livestock–to some 300 participants on the first of a five–day 7th Multi–Stakeholder Partnership Meeting of the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock.

Congratulations to Francesca DeBiase on winning this award!
AWESOME Announces Recipients of 2017 AWESOME Legendary Leadership (ALL) Award
Business Wire | May 1, 2017
Francesca DeBiase is responsible for overseeing McDonald's Global Supply Chain while embedding sustainability into the way McDonald's does business around the world. Her team leverages the scale of the company's $40 billion spend in food, packaging, logistics, toys, technology, equipment and other services, while driving safety, quality and sustainability throughout the company and achieving leadership in those areas in the food industry. She is also the Global Advisor to the McDonald's Women's Leadership Network.

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Slavery in the Amazon: Thousands Forced to Work on Brazil's Cattle Ranches
Shasta Darlington, Flora Charner and Miguel Castro, CNN | May 11, 2017
Debt bondage is common in Brazil's lawless cattle country, according to the coordinator of this latest operation, Andre Wagner, from the Labor Ministry.

Red Meat Exports to China: Australia Should Sell Its Credentials
The Weekly Times | March 20, 2017
Australia should capitalise on its credentials for its beef and sheepmeat exports to China rather than compete in the mass market.

That's according to Rabobank's recently released paper, Australian Red Meat Exports to China, which examines the implications of China's growing animal protein demand on Australia's beef and sheepmeat exports to China.

While Rabobank forecasts China to import an additional 800,000 tonnes of beef and 50,000 tonnes of sheepmeat by 2020, this will only lead to a moderate increase in Australia's red meat exports to China.

Agriculture Is a Social Cause Millennials Could Get Excited About
The Meating Place (Registration) | May 11,2017

Whether you're marketing to millennials, working with them, or getting them involved in your organization, one recent speaker at an ag conference stated that "you must find a common connection point, and it needs to be attached to a larger social issue." Millennials are convinced that their efforts need to serve a greater societal good in order for their lives to have purpose in the grand scale of things.

The Future of Grassfed Beef Is Green  
Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture | April 19, 2017
A recent study (full pdf report here) by the Stone Barnes center for food and agriculture finds that the price of grassfed beef could come down significantly if the industry were to establish well–managed grass–finishing operations that take advantage of economies of scale in processing, distribution and marketing. But these operations must be based on high standards for the humane treatment of animals and for land and water stewardship. Currently a number of labels and standards confuse the marketplace and the consumer, as they conflate excellent management practices with poor ones.

Beef Industry Conference Registration Now Open  
Alberta Farmer | May 4, 2017
Canada's beef cattle industry will be 'Sharing Common Ground' at the second annual Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary on Aug. 15–17.

'It's This or We All Walk Off': Radical Plan to Bring Bush Back to Life
Kristine Taylor, ABC News, Australia | May 8, 2017
David Pollock is a cattleman with no cows. He would rather watch the grass grow on the historic Wooleen Station. He is slowly returning his childhood home in remote WA to its ancient splendour. In a landscape more than 3 billion years old, it's going to take a while.

New Tool Can Help Transform Financial Literacy Across Beef Industry: Cattle Council
BEEF Central | May 09, 2017The Farmecco tool has been developed specifically for the beef industry and will help producers gain a greater understanding of their financial future, empowering them to make more informed decisions on how to improve profitability.

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