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


Executive Director's Message

Every few weeks a new article comes along stating that the beef industry is, in one way or another, destroying the planet. Last week I received this one from a member.

This article was more nuanced than most, in that it did consider the upside of managing grasslands well for carbon balance. In reality, the story is too involved to be covered in a short article. In the U.S. for example, emissions from all livestock are 3.8% of the total, so the starting premise for the article is weak in that context, even though it does not refer to any other country.

I continue to believe that GRSB and its members need to work concertedly to address the skewed information that consumers receive daily. We don't need to be defensive or respond individually to every article, but we should proactively spread information about the role of cattle (and other ruminants) in a wide range of productions systems, as well information on dramatic improvements that are being achieved around the world to reduce beef production's impact still further.

Please do not forget to send nominations for the election of a replacement vice president, either to me, or to Scott Stuart.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Sustainable Ag Can Mitigate Climate Change, Involuntary Migration, Says FAO
The Cattle Site | July 7, 2017
Climate change poses a major risk for rural people in developing countries, often leading to distress–driven migration, and bolstering sustainable agriculture is an essential part of an effective policy response, FAO Director–General José Graziano da Silva said today.

According to FAO, citing figures showing that since 2008 one person has been displaced every second by climate and weather disasters – an average of 26 million a year – and suggesting the trend is likely to intensify in the immediate future as rural areas struggle to cope with warmer weather and more erratic rainfall, he said the "solution to this great challenge" lies in bolstering the economic activities that the vast majority of rural populations are already engaged in.

Research Shows Cows Bred For Low Nitrogen Leaching Produce Higher Milk Protein  
Gerald Piddock, NZ Farmer | July 10 2017
Cows bred to produce less nitrogen in their urine are diverting this nutrient into the production of milk protein.

The discovery by CRV Ambreed scientists is thought to be a world first and has shown that breeding this trait in cows not only makes the animal more environmentally friendly, but boosts its milk production efficiency.

The dairy herd improvement company recently begun marketing semen from ore than 20 bulls bred for their ability to reduce the concentration of milk urea nitrogen (MUN) in their daughters under its LowN Sires brand.

An analysis of the LowN sire bulls suggested that about 25 per cent of the nitrogen being diverted away from urine in their daughters would go into milk protein, CRV Ambreed research and development scientist Phil Beatson said.

More milk protein is good news for milk processing companies wanting less water in the drying process when creating milk powders.

CAP Reform: From Sustainable Feed to Sustainable Food
Karin Nansen, Olivier De Schutter and Oscar Rivas, EURACTIV | July 11, 2017
Once again, the debate on reforming the EU's Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) has got off on the wrong foot. After indications that CAP spending might be scythed to plug the black hole left by Brexit, we are talking once more about the size of the pot – and not what it should be used for.

Another CAP reform could come and go, therefore, without focusing on the critical question of how to put EU and global food systems on a sustainable footing in the face of climate change, ecosystem degradation, pressures on farm livelihoods and a rising obesity epidemic.

That is why the ‘European Soya Declaration' is such a breath of fresh air. The German–Hungarian initiative, tabled earlier this month and up for adoption by EU agriculture ministers on 17–18 July, calls for a series of steps to increase European protein feed production (particularly soy) and to diversify agriculture in the process.

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US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Concludes Third General Assembly Meeting  
KRVN Radio | July 12, 2017
A group of 130 representatives across the beef value chain gathered in Denver for the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) General Assembly Meeting July 11 – 12. This meeting allowed USRSB the opportunity to share accomplishments from the past year and the direction of efforts moving forward.

Sessions were held to update attendees on the progress of working groups, which included the Indicator Working Group's efforts to finalize the beef sustainability metrics. The fourth iteration of the metric report was recently distributed to USRSB membership for review.

Additionally, the Engagement, Measurement and Progress Working Group is developing Sustainability Assessment Guides — tools for the beef supply chain to use to self–assess their sustainability efforts. Other meeting highlights focused on findings and updates in beef sustainability research and beef consumer segmentation market research.

McDonald's Signs Deal to Drive Down Carbon Footprint of European Fleet  
James Henderson, Digital Supply Chain | June 21, 2017
HAVI and Scania have agreed a partnership with McDonald's to drive down the carbon footprint of the restaurant's transport operations across several countries in Europe.

The intention is to significantly reduce diesel powered vehicles and shift approximately 70 percent of HAVI's total truck fleet to alternative fuels such as gas and hybrid models, by 2021.

The collaboration will initially focus on Europe while similar approaches are also being explored for Asia.

The CO2 emissions in deliveries by HAVI to McDonald's restaurants utilizing Scania's next generation trucks and operating solutions will be continuously monitored in real time, bringing existing fleet connectivity to the next level.

Italian Meat Processor Ups Sustainability Via Watertight Deal
Oscar Rousseau, Global Meat News | July 13, 2017
Italian business Inalca SpA claims to have cut water and energy use at its meat plant in Lazio in a bid to address a challenge facing many meat processors: reducing the impact of climate change.

Inalca collaborated with US–based Nalco Holding Company to implement four water management projects that saved the business €65,000 in combined water and energy costs at its canned meat factory in the city of Rieti, central Italy.

Its factory can produce around 36,000 tonnes of canned meat per year, but wanted to do so in a way that was as environmentally friendly as possible – hence why it sought the help of Nalco Water. "Inalca had several key business drivers for this project, with safety and food quality being the top priorities," said Alberto Serafini, vice–president and market leader of Europe South for Nalco parent firm Ecolab. "We were charged with implementing solutions to reduce site water and energy consumption, reduce total costs of operation and improve site process operations."

CCA Loses CEO After Six Months   
Jon Condon, Beef Central | July 10, 2017
Cattle Council of Australia announced on Friday afternoon that chief executive officer Duncan Bremner has tendered his resignation. Mr Bremner only started in the role in January.

"I have come to the conclusion that I am not the right person to lead the CCA in its current form through the significant reforms the organisation must undertake," Mr Bremner said in a brief statement issued by CCA.

"The Australian cattle industry is my passion, and it has been a privilege to have had the opportunity to lead the peak industry council for the sector," he said.

Alternative Protein Understudy
Sally Rae, Otago Daily Times | July 10, 2017
Beef and Lamb New Zealand is on a mission to "distinguish hype from reality" in the alternative protein space. The organisation is leading a project to assess potential red meat sector responses to alternative protein advances and is expected to identify project partners by the end of the month.

In a statement, chief executive Sam McIvor said the organisation wanted to better understand the shifts in food and food production technology. That included identifying the threats and opportunities for the sector and how to address them, he said.

"We want to distinguish hype from reality and have an objective view on what's happening in the alternative protein space. "That will mean better understanding the technologies, business models and how quickly advancements are being made that could impact the red meat sector."

The current view from commentators was that alternative protein was being positioned as a premium product today but that could change tomorrow.

Marfrig Reaffirms Its Public Commitment to The Amazon Biome
WebWire (press release) | July 19, 2017
Marfrig Global Foods, a leading global protein producer, has reaffirmed its Public Commitment to the Amazon Biome. The initiative is a way to continue upholding its Public Commitment on Amazon Cattle Ranching, through which the company undertook, since 2009, together with Greenpeace, not to purchase any animals originating from deforested or conservation areas or from indigenous lands.

Marfrig laments the exit by Greenpeace from the Public Commitment on Cattle Ranching, given its firm belief in the extreme importance of maintaining good sustainability practices and strengthening efforts to combat deforestation in the Amazon Biome, violence against indigenous peoples and the use of field labor in conditions analogous to slavery.

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Over 850 Applications Received Under Bord Bia's New Quality Assurance Scheme
Conor Finnerty, Agriland | July 13, 2017
Over 850 applications have been received since Bord Bia launched its new Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) earlier this year. The new scheme was launched by Bord Bia in early April and a total of 861 new applications have been received in the past three months.

The majority of new applications have comprised of beef–only applications, which equalled 716. Lamb–only applications amounted to 29, while beef and lamb applications accounted for a total of 116.

Milking Cows to Promote a Conservative Agenda in India  
Angel Sharma, HuffPost | July 7, 2017
On May 25, India's Environment Ministry called for a nationwide ban on the sale and purchase of cattle intended for slaughter. Initially intended to better regulate the meat import and export, and to eradicate illegal slaughterhouses that violate regulations, the "pink revolution" championed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has morphed into a restriction on individual freedoms in India that will have larger implications nationwide and globally.

Moreover, India's growing restrictions on the consumption and slaughtering of cows is the newest wave of Hindutva–fueled nationalism. Consequently, the ban is increasing religious and caste divides within the diverse country, damaging the unity of the Bharatya Janatha Party (BJP), and potentially disrupting the global market.

Many BJP members have stated that eating beef is "against the idea of India," even though the Indian constitution specifically protects its citizens from a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and consumption.

India's Supreme Court Suspends Ban on Sale of Cows for Slaughter  
New York Times | July 11, 2017

India's Supreme Court on Tuesday suspended a government ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter, a decision applauded by the multibillion–dollar beef and leather industries that are mostly run by members of the Muslim minority.

The Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi decreed in May that markets could sell cattle only for agricultural purposes, including for use in plowing fields and dairy production.

The slaughter of cows, which many Hindus consider sacred, was already banned in most parts of India, but Hindu hard–liners and vigilante groups out to protect cows have been increasingly asserting themselves since Mr. Modi's government came to power in 2014.

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