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


Executive Director's Message

Welcome to our new members! Our recent board meeting in Australia was a great success and an important part of the good news to come out of it was the addition of two new members; the Colombian Roundtable for Sustainable Livestock and the Dairy Sustainability Framework. We were also joined by a sizeable delegation from Paraguay and all the signs are positive that we will be able to welcome the Paraguayan roundtable as a new member shortly.

While in Australia, we heard about a number of initiatives that are making excellent progress on beef sustainability over large areas of the country. Grazing BMP is already being implemented on 27 million ha (~67 million acres). While Australia does not have a roundtable, the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework and initiatives like GBMP will continue to deliver impact very much in line with GRSB’s approach.

On a different note, some of you will have come across this article, (see also here) in which it is suggested that tropical forests are actually now a net source of GHG emissions. When added to other increasing sources (melting permafrost, methane hydrates from warming northern oceans) this should be of concern. It also emphasises the importance of global rangelands and grazing lands in sequestering carbon. This is a product graziers should be earning money for, and which will bring them multiple benefits. Even Richard Branson may have woken up to that!

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Welcome to the Table…
Dairy Sustainability Framework
Dateline: October 2017
The Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) is the dairy sector's equivalent of a Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. The DSF currently accounts for in excess of 30% of global milk production. Membership is across the dairy value chain, and the basis of a free membership is to ensure there are limited barriers to global membership (a vast percentage of global dairy production is in developing countries). The vision of the DSF is: A vibrant dairy sector committed to continuously improving its ability to provide safe and nutritious products from healthy cattle, while preserving natural resources and ensuring decent livelihoods across the industry. Involvement with the GRSB is seen as an important step to enhance our aligned ambitions.

Mesa de Ganadería Sostenible de Colombia
Dateline: October 2017 | Constituency: Roundtable
The Sustainable Beef Roundtable–Colombia (SBR–Col), is an interinstitutional participation space which is born as a commitment for identifying the importance of having a consultant body that has the technical knowledge on sustainable beef in the country, that would be a benchmark in the building process of plans, programs and projects regarding sustainable beef. Since the year 2014, the SBR–Col began a process of formalization and internal planning, which allowed defining a strong and committed organization, bringing different public and private entities that have worked together to promote the topic at the national level, with a technical secretariat and grouping the work in three technical committees.

A Call for Transparency  
Greg Henderson, Drovers | September 21, 2017
The long process to create a Canadian ‘sustainable beef' program is nearing the finish line.

It's music to a cowboy's ears when a meat company CEO says, "Meat demand is growing rapidly around the world. We want the world to keep eating what it loves."

Those are the words of Uma Valeti, co–founder and CEO of Memphis Meats, a San Leandro, Calif.–based startup developing technology to grow meat from self–reproducing animal cells. That's right, lab meat—the futuristic product that combines all of your calf–pulling, hay baling, fence–fixing labor into a stainless–steel cultivator dish.

After touting the robust demand for meat, Valeti says, "However, the way conventional meat is produced today creates challenges for the environment, animal welfare and human health."

Beef Cattle Contribute to Sustainable Food System
Hoosier Ag Today | September 19, 2017
A recent study by the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization says cattle raised for beef production play a key role in maintaining a sustainable food system. Meat industry publication, Meatingplace, reports that the research essentially counters claims that beef production consumes too much human–edible feed, finding that cattle are net contributors to the global protein supply, and concludes that "modest yield improvements" can reduce further land expansion for feed production. The research shows that 86 percent of the feed cattle consume is grasses grown on marginal lands, not edible to humans.

There's Lots of Money Being Left On the Packing Plant Floor
Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Farmer | September 19, 2017
National Beef Quality audits prove that Canadian beef is pretty darn good.

But they also show that producers could be putting more money in their wallets by reducing defects that show up at the packing plant, says Mark Klassen, director of technical services with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association. The last audit, conducted in 2010–11, found that quality defects added up to $61.80 per head.

"It's a significant loss of money. Ultimately these costs impact the entire supply chain, but it's often producers in particular," said Klassen. A new audit is currently underway and full results won't be ready until next year.

Degraded Soils Cost Farmers Billions Annually  
Laura Rance, Manitoba Co–operator | September 19, 2017
Farmers have reduced the amount of soil they lose through annual cropping practices, but they continue to carry a costly legacy of degraded soils, a University of Manitoba soil scientist says.

David Lobb used crop production data and computer models to estimate how much lost productivity has occurred over the past four decades due to soil erosion. The numbers he came up with were startling.

A Few Of The Bright Spots At Climate Week So Far
Steve Zwick, Ecosystem Marketplace | September 23, 2017
The energy sector generates about 70 percent of all man–caused greenhouse–gas emissions, but the other 30 percent – and maybe much, much more – comes from the way we manage our forests, farms, and fields.

Restaurants Make Gains in Antibiotic–Free Chicken, But Not On Beef, Pork  
Samantha Bomkamp, Chicago Tribune | September 27, 2017
"When it comes to chicken nuggets, we've seen incredible change in a few short years — but burgers and bacon are another story," said Lena Brook, food policy advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "To keep our life–saving antibiotics working when people need them, the entire meat industry — beef and pork included — must start using them responsibly."

Surprisingly, Tropical Forests Are Not a Carbon Sink
Adam Aton, Scientific American | September 29, 2017
Tropical forests are adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere than they're removing, according to a new study that estimates the world's lush canopies emit more CO2 than all of America's cars and trucks.

The silver lining, the researchers say, is that tropical forests have untapped potential to act as carbon sinks through better conservation and land management.

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Global, Australian Sustainability Roundtables Find Common Ground in Canberra
Jon Condon, BEEF Central | September 19, 2017
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and its Australian equivalent, the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework, are meeting in Canberra this week, and are apparently finding a great deal of common ground.

JBS Aims High in Food Safety Performance Under New Global Head, Al Almanza
Jon Condon, BEEF Central | September 28, 2017
Australia was the first port of call for JBS's new global head of food safety, Al Almanza, after he joined the world's largest meat processor last month. Why was that?

Cattle Council Criticism Ignores Industry's Fatal Flaws  
John Wyld, The Weekly Times | September 19, 2017
It is unfortunate the Cattle Council of Australia was made a scapegoat in the red meat Senate report handed down last week. CCA is a victim of circumstances beyond its control, and a look at history is important. CCA was formed in 1979, and is owned by all the state farmer ¬organisations.

The members were elected representatives from each state, based on an equitable formula. It was funded by a fee for each seat. This structure worked well for many years and achieved much. However, there are a couple of fatal flaws.

Latest Beef Report Reveals Production Increase  
Kristy Moroney, Farming Ahead (subscription) | September 22, 2017
After almost two years of steady decline, Rabobank's latest Beef Quarterly report shows an increase in production and exports suggesting Australia's beef sector is now on the road to recovery.

However the September 21 report questions how long it will take to increase the nation's beef herd to rebuild its place and competitiveness in global markets.

Rabobank's Beef Quarterly said the dry seasonal conditions prevailing across much of Australia will limit the country's ability to rapidly increase production, and a more gradual increase into global markets is expected.

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Argentina Poised to Re–Enter League of Top Beef Exporters
Mike Verdin, Agrimoney | September 18, 2017
Argentina, which a century ago became a world power on the back of its beef exports, is poised to re–enter the top 10 shippers, helped by the end of trade curbs, and a herd rebuilding from near–50–year lows.

Argentine will in 2018 export 350,000 tonnes of beef, the US Department of Agriculture bureau in Buenos Aires said, in their first forecast for next year's supply and demand for the South American country.

Canadian Beef Industry Group Optimistic About CETA
Cassandra Jodoin, Globalnews.ca | September 23, 2017
On Saturday, John Masswohl, vice–president of government affairs with the Canadian Cattlemen's Association, told the Alberta Morning News that Europe has had a prohibitively high tariff on Canadian beef.

"Now we've got some very significant quantities of a quota for duty free access to both fresh and frozen beef," he said. "So that's going to provide some incentive, and probably for those who are already exporting to Europe, gives them some additional eligibility."

Brexit Weighs Heavy at Irish Farming Fair  
MENAFN.COM | September 24, 2017

Joe Healy, president of the Irish Farmers' Association, in–between selfies and chomps on his muffin, expressed concern about Brexit.

"We export 90% of our beef. Fifty per cent of that goes to the UK, 45% to Europe and 5% onto international markets," he said.

But of the 45% that goes to Europe, half of that uses the UK as a land bridge to get to the European market, said Healy, underlining the sector's dependence on its nearest neighbour.

Like beef, Ireland's agri–food sector the biggest employer in the republic with 8.4% of the workforce exports 37% of its production to Britain.

Listen: Shane McManaway Celebrates Lamb and Calf Day  
New Zealand Herald/The Country | September 26, 2017

Chief executive of Allflex and Wairarapa farmer Shane McManaway spoke to The Country about the series he jointly came up with called Farmers are Good Buggers Too.

McManaway felt that farmers were becoming "whipping boys" in the lead up to the election and he wanted to broadcast stories that highlighted the good farmers do for the environment.

Listen to the full 6:28 audio interview HERE.

Bord Bia to Spend €1m to Raise Awareness of Origin Green  
Louise Hogan, Farm Ireland | September 28 2017

Bord Bia is spending over €1m as part of a promotional campaign to raise awareness of its Origin Green sustainability programme on home turf.

Bord Bia said the promotional materials will continue to be used over the next five years. Bord Bia chief executive Tara McCarthy said that Irish consumers were not aware of Origin Green and their objective was to "celebrate" that the Irish food and agriculture sector was doing an amazing job.

Bord Bia said the campaign was timed as 270 companies are now members – representing 90pc of Irish food and drink exports – while there are now over 50,000 farmers in the sustainable beef and lamb assurance scheme and a further 15,000 in the dairy scheme.

$1 billion for National Landcare Program, Phase Two
Beef Central | September 28, 2017

The Coalition Government is continuing its longstanding commitment to natural resource management, investing more than $1 billion for phase two of the National LandcareProgram, which will be delivered from July 2017 to June 2023 as announced in this year's Budget.

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