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


Executive Director's Message

GRSB held our first communicators summit last week and we had a really positive and energizing discussion. I personally learned a lot, and many others commented that they enjoyed it too, including Kevin Folta, one of the presenters. I would like to thank all those who came and participated as well as those who underwrote the event.

I certainly believe it was a success and it will definitely be repeated in the future. A big thank you, as well, to Sarah Bohnenkamp and the team (Jessica, Hannah and Emily) who made it all happen.

We are going to do a special edition of Connect focusing on the summit for members next week, which will include links to the material that was shared (requires GRSB member access, so please contact us if you don't have a password).

You may have come across a recent article entitled "Grazed and Confused" by Tara Garnett of FCRN and colleagues recently, as well as a follow up by George Monbiot called "Goodbye – and good riddance – to livestock farming".

There have been a number of replies worth reading, and I encourage you to do so here, here, here and revisit the article "Livestock on our plates or eating at our table?" best summed up in the final paragraph of Susan MacMillan's piece in taking stock:

"So it's complicated. What's needed now are not more emotional, simplistic and polarizing debates about the 'goods' and 'bads' of livestock, but rather thoughtful, evidence–based agreements on the many and diverse practical steps we can take to bring about more sustainable and humane food and livelihood futures for all of the world's people."

That's what GRSB and our members are working on,so I hope we can all feel good about that, and get the message out to more people that that is what we do. Maybe in doing so, we could change the mainstream media narrative to become more positive.
Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Methane Emissions from Livestock Higher than Estimated  
Kevin O'Sullivan, The Irish Times | October 1, 2017
Global methane emissions arising from agriculture are considerably larger than previously estimated, a US study on carbon emissions generated by livestock has found.

The latest estimates are likely to have serious implications for Ireland given 33 per cent of the State's carbon emissions come from farming sources.

Methane (CH4) is particularly problematic as a greenhouse gas because it contributes to global warming to a much greater extent than carbon dioxide.

Proof That Sustainable Meat and Dairy Farming Can Work  
David Finlay, The Guardian | October 12, 2017
This is the final part of a much longer–term experiment, incorporating agroecology, agroforestry and calf–with–cow dairying along with appropriate technologies that allow us to achieve these public benefit outcomes.

On paper this could work. In practice it hasn't been easy. But there are glimmers of daylight. We are on the final stretch and many of our targets have been met: substantial (90%–plus) cuts in the use of antibiotics, anthelmintics, vaccines, soluble fertiliser and pesticides (and diffuse pollution) without compromising productivity or animal health; and substantial increases in biodiversity and reductions in staff working hours.

We have greatly extended the period of time the calves remain with their mothers, from 24 hours to between five and six months. This is the final challenge, but when you see something you know is right, it's about finding ways to make it work, not giving up.

5 Ways We Are Getting Better at Cattle Handling  
W. Mark Hilton, BEEF Magazine | October 12, 2017
Think about your beef operation today, and then reflect back 10 to 20 years. What has improved, and what is the same? My guess is that your improved list is long and may include nutrition, genetics and health protocols — to name a few.

Now, think about how you handle cattle. This topic, just like many others, should be under the "improved" category.

We like to pat ourselves on the back (and rightly so) for improvements in nutrition and animal health. But we never give ourselves enough credit for the major improvements in cattle handling. Cue the applause.

The Benefits of Ecological Beef Cattle Farming
Farmers Weekly | June 19, 2017
Beef cattle production can be defined as a chain of three manageable processes: resource conversion, product conversion and money conversion.

Although seemingly straightforward, the modern cattle production industry finds this difficult to grasp.

It is typically called 'commercial cattle farming' or 'extensive cattle farming' and refers to a cattle farming operation on natural veld. The word 'sustainable' is what counts here, not 'ecological'. But the concept of sustainability, too, appears not to be fully understood.

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Tell the Consumers About BQA  
BEEF Magazine | October 02, 2017
"Without data you're just another person with an opinion," said W. Edwards Deming, widely considered the godfather of total quality management control — devising ways to increase product quality and consistency while decreasing product failure.

Keith Belk shared this apt quote while introducing the results of the 2016 National Market Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit.

"Educating packers, retailers, foodservice, and further processing entities about the BQA program could improve marketing weaknesses and public perceptions that plague our industry … utilizing BQA and its principles to increase consumer confidence and enhance industry commitment would encourage greater beef demand, and improve industry harmonization," the report says.

"Carrying this BQA message throughout the industry all the way to consumers would benefit every audience," the report concludes.

Exclusive Aussie Beef Served Up for Chinese Holiday  
Oscar Rousseau, GlobalMeatNews | October 3, 2017
With China's two key Autumn holidays approaching next week one of Beijing's leading meat processors has teamed up with a state–owned retail chain to distribute a range of high end Australian "barbeque beef" cuts.

Formally established in 1999 as a halal–focused processor of beef and lamb, Zhuo Chen also has a "strategic relationship" with the Dutch firm Van Drie Group for the supply of beef genetics and breeding advice. The company claims to breed 100,000 head of cattle and 30,000 sheep per year in its farms in Inner Mongolia, northwest China.

The World's Leaders in Sourcing Sustainable Cotton Has Some Surprises  
Leon Kaye, Triple Pundit (registration) | October 2, 2017
The NGO Solidaridad, in partnership with organizations including WWF and United Kingdom–based Pesticide Action Network, today released its annual sustainable cotton rankings. The survey's researchers considered initiatives that are transforming the apparel industry, such as the Better Cotton Initiative and fair trade certification programs, and also evaluated various companies' policies, sourcing and traceability.

Overall, the report is a warning to the global apparel sector that it still has a long road ahead until it can claim it is environmentally and socially sustainable. But the report also offers some surprises and provides hope that the fast fashion industry can mitigate concerns that its rapid growth will come at too high of a cost to the planet and human rights.

Beef Industry Positives
Erika Murphy, Coyote Creek Angus, Steamboat Pilot & Today | October 9, 2017
I am a rancher who raises Angus cattle for breeding purposes southwest of Steamboat Springs. The beef industry receives lots of negative press at times, so I wanted to focus on some of the positives and offer other perspectives. This only covers a few of the topics, and all figures are from credible sources that I am happy to provide. Cattle are raised in many areas where it is difficult to grow crops. Growing crops is not feasible when the land is too cold, steep, or high as in Routt County. Cattle turn grass that humans cannot eat into meat and milk that we can. Livestock can also eat stocks left after harvest of corn or grain.

WWF Responds to Tim Noakes: Scrutinise the Source and Eat Less Meat
Garreth Van Niekerk, Huffington Post South Africa | October 11, 2017
The World Wide Fund for Nature has responded to claims by Banting diet proponent Tim Noakes that eating more meat is better for the environment. The organisation says the human race faces dire consequences as a result of livestock farming.

"The reality is that global demand for meat and dairy products is growing and there is no getting away from the fact that livestock production has significant environmental impacts," the non–governmental organisation wrote in a statement to HuffPost SA.

BLNZ Project on Impact Of Alternative Proteins
Sally Rae, Otago Daily Times | September 5, 2017
Beef and Lamb New Zealand has begun a project aimed at better understanding what impact alternative proteins may have on the red meat sector.

It is part of the organisation's new innovation programme to front–foot potential challenges and fill knowledge gaps.

Its main purpose was to better understand the shifts in food production technology occurring outside New Zealand, separate "the hype from reality" and provide an objective view on product development, business models and consumer acceptance.

It was also seeking to identify threats and opportunities for New Zealand's red meat sector, as well as shifts and activities the sector might wish to explore to best position itself for the future.

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Bots Beef Industry Teeters as FMD Rears Its Ugly Head  
Mpho Tebele, Southern Times Africa | October 2, 2017
Gaborone – Botswana's beef industry is facing an uncertain future following a fresh outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Ngamiland District in northern part of the country.

The Ministry of Agriculture and food Security explained that this comes about after reports from famers of sighting cattle that were showing suspicious signs.

Dr Letlhogile Modisa, the director of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Dr said his officers have followed up the allegations and found five animals that were showing signs that are consistent with the disease.

"As a result of these findings, the slaughter and movement of all cloven hoofed animals and their fresh products within and out of the district are suspended until further notice," he said.

Time to End Cartoon Days for Meat Industry
Pam Tipa, Rural News Group | October 5, 2017
Meat Industry veteran Sir Graeme Harrison reckons the sector was summed up by a 1994 cartoon captioned, 'we can't see, we don't hear and we don't talk'.

"I think that is pretty typical of a lot of New Zealand's export sector to be frank," the ANZCO Foods Ltd founder and chairman told the recent ExportNZ conference in Auckland.

"Really what we've got to do is join hands and collaborate. That is certainly what ANZCO has done in its business relationships around the world."

Harrison also gave a plug for the NZ International Business Forum that started in 2007, which he chaired for its first seven years.

Dairy Farmers Could Be the New Beef Farmers If They Produce the Right Calves  
Richard Morrison, NZ Farmer | October 3, 2017

There are more than 25,000 sheep and beef farms in New Zealand and over 12,000 dairy farms. Despite this statistic there are less than one million beef–breeding cattle on sheep and beef farms yet more than six million cows on dairy farms.

Assuming two million heifers born from dairy farms need to be retained as potential replacement cows, the remaining four million calves can be grown as a beef proposition. Some heifers are sold to beef farmers for use as beef breeding cows: but many are grown out and sold as prime heifers, steers, or bull–beef.

The New Zealand beef industry is very unique in the world as 70 per cent of our beef sold has a dairy component in its genetics. More than 80 per cent of the beef we produce is exported overseas.

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