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


Executive Director's Message

You may be quite surprised, as I was, by the article below regarding a San Francisco ordinance that requires retailers to collect information about antibiotics used in livestock from which meat is sourced.

Initially, I was taken aback by the phrase "which antibiotics are used in the raw meat they sell"; which seems very odd given that there are no antibiotics in the raw meat they sell, unless people are not following withdrawal periods. As the food marketing institute says here, "The retail industry supports FDA's actions to ensure the judicious use of antimicrobials in food animal production."

This seems like a strategy to alarm consumers, who are unlikely to understand what is really meant by the proposed labelling (they may interpret it to mean, as the first article suggests, that there are actually antibiotics in meat). However, given that it has already been published and comes into effect in 6 months time, we may also take it as a sign of things to come.

It adds impetus to the need for having clearly articulated strategies for responsible antibiotic stewardship, both at the national and the international level. We can make a firm statement in this area, and be part of setting the agenda, or we can let events overtake us as they have in San Francisco.

The NIAA is holding their symposium on Antibiotic Stewardship: Collaborative Strategy for Animal Agriculture and Human Health this week, and we hope to be able to share some of the outcomes of those discussions with you.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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International Beef Alliance Statement
International Beef Alliance | October 20, 2017
Members of the International Beef Alliance (IBA), comprising the cattle producer organizations from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Paraguay, and the United States, met in Paraguay from 15–20 October 2017.

The membership reinforced the importance of local and global initiatives to ensure sustainable beef production. IBA believes actions taken domestically should improve the environmental and social aspects of their beef production systems and also promote rural economies. Members are committed to explore opportunities for greater collaboration in this area into the future, and safe guard compliance with local legislation.

Can Livestock Production Meet the Growing Demand for Meat in Developing Countries
Louise Fresco, The Borlaug Blog | October 23, 2017
The short answer is yes. Livestock production cannot only meet the growing demand for animal proteins, but we absolutely need livestock to use the planet in a sustainable and healthy way.

Here is why: food production in the 21st century needs to be better matched to food consumption so as to avoid wasting produced biomass.

Yet many people feel that animal based food consumption should be reduced because of the larger ecological footprint compared to plant based food products. But is that really true? Alas, this is more complex than black versus white.

Rabobank, UN Launch $1 Billion Fund to Boost Sustainable Farming
Chris Prentice, Reuters | October 16, 2017
Rabobank NA is launching with the United Nations $1 billion in financing for farmers to transition to more sustainable practices as food companies and consumers are demanding more supply chain transparency.

Rabobank and the United Nations are implementing the program to push farmers to consider more sustainable practices despite higher costs and potentially lower yields at the outset, executives for the Dutch bank said on Tuesday in an interview.

Low–Stress Techniques Save Time, Money  
Kerri Rempp, KVPI TV, Idaho | October 26, 2017
It took patience, but within 30 minutes, Ryan Sexton had a small group of cattle exactly where he wanted them – up against the arena fence, near a crowd of people in the Coffee Ag Pavilion.

He did it without raising his voice, shaking a flag or rattle paddle or waving his arms.

Sexton demonstrated low–stress cattle handling techniques last week during the annual meeting of the Nebraska Section of the Society for Range Management and Technical Training. The group spent three days in the northern Panhandle, touring the area and gaining knowledge on new techniques and research.

€1.8 Million Announced for Agri Sustainability Research Projects
Sylvester Phela, Agriland | October 23, 2017
Awards of over €1.8 million have been announced for Irish researchers collaborating in major international agricultural sustainability research projects by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed.

The key areas of research relate to greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation and sustainable animal production; these will be conducted under the European Research Area Networks (ERA–Nets) programme. This programme harnesses collective effort across major international research partners in areas of strategic importance.

San Francisco to Require Stores to Report Meat Antibiotics  
KRON TV, San Francisco | October 25, 2017
A new San Francisco ordinance makes the city the first in the country to require large chain grocery stores to report which antibiotics are used in the raw meat they sell.

It will require grocery stores with 25 locations or more, such as Safeway, Target and Trader Joe's, to report antibiotic use by their suppliers to the city Department of the Environment.

The information will not be printed on food labels but will be available to the public on the department's website, the report says.

Representatives from the meat and grocery industries have criticized the move as costly, unnecessary and potentially confusing to consumers.

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McDonald's Announces Commitments to Advancements in Chicken Welfare
McDonald's News Release | October 27, 2017
Today, we are elevating our global commitment to source chickens raised with improved welfare outcomes. We're proud to share the following eight commitments in markets across the globe,[1] which impact more than 70 percent of our global chicken supply and will be fully implemented on or before 2024. Together, we believe these commitments provide the ability to drive and measure continuous improvement for the health and welfare of chickens.

Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Seeks Final Public Input on Sustainability Indicators for Beef Processing: Comment Period Open October 5 – November 4, 2017  
The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef | October 05, 2017
The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) works collaboratively through its multi–stakeholder membership to promote sustainability in the Canadian beef industry.

As part of a Verified Sustainable Beef Framework the CRSB is developing, a series of sustainability indicators reflect what will be measured to evaluate sustainable practices across the beef value chain. The CRSB conducted an initial consultation on sustainability indicators for the beef processing sector this summer.

Based on the responses during the initial consultation, these indicators have been refined, and CRSB is now seeking additional public input on the updated draft. Comments received came from a variety of diverse perspectives, and CRSB appreciates all who offered their valuable feedback.

Panel Discusses Sustainability at Research Center Opening  
Kylene Scott, High Plains Journal | October 16, 2017
A panel of speakers ranging from World Wildlife Fund to McDonald's and Cargill, plus veterinarians, beef producers and genetics companies spoke about how each of their sectors will contribute to the sustainability of the beef industry at the opening of Hy Plains Feed Yard's Education and Research Center, Aug. 23, near Montezuma, Kansas.

To be sustainable, beef producers need to be environmentally sound, economically viable and socially responsible. It gets complicated when trying to define those three things. The roundtables for beef sustainability—which are happening around the globe—are working to achieve those things.

Animal Health Company Asks for Help to Protect Livestock Pharmaceuticals  
Sarah Brown, The Prairie Star, Montana | October 16, 2017
Using the farming practices available today, we would have to raise more than 2 billion more cattle and water buffalo and use 43 percent more grazing forage and water by 2050. That's according to Bruce Hoffman, director of global cattle vaccine for Elanco Animal Health, who says he believes there is another way: "innovation."

"We can either raise more beef and water buffalo and use more resources or we can improve how cattle and water buffalo are raised so we produce more beef more efficiently," said Hoffman speaking to a group assembled for the Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture conference held Sept. 26–28 in Billings.

Hoffman outlined what he called the "four new realities."

The first is that demand for protein is growing. The second is that threats to animal health from emerging diseases and climate volatility are real. The third is that resource use is accelerating.

Hoffman's fourth "reality" speaks to this: that "outliers" are driving the conversation about agriculture to promote their "fringe agenda." This segment of the population – 1 percent, according to Hoffman – that has concerns about antibiotic resistance and environmental degradation are out–of–touch with the realities of farm life, he said.

Rabobank Promotes Sustainability, Security and Health Through Innovation Project  
David Burrows, Food Navigator | October 18, 2017
Rabobank said it wants to increase support for those "working to improve the environmental and social sustainability of the food and agricultural sector". Efforts will be focused on four areas: earth, waste, stability and nutrition.

GAP Report: Uncertainty About Trade, Regulation Hamper US Farmers  
Hagstrom Report, The Fence Post | October 19, 2017
Uncertainty about trade opportunities and regulation factors are hampering U.S. farmers in planning for the future, according to the 2017 GAP Report released Oct. 19 by the Global Harvest Initiative on the sidelines of the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogues in Des Moines.

For the fourth straight year, global agricultural productivity growth is not accelerating fast enough to sustainably feed the world in 2050, according to the report by GHI, a private sector organization focused on agricultural productive growth. GHI's members include DuPont, Elanco Animal Health, Farmland Partners Inc., John Deere, Monsanto Company, The Mosaic Company and Smithfield Foods, and it has partners in conservation organizations, universities and multilateral development banks.

Report Review: Cargill Making Solid Progress on Ambitious Climate Goals
Claire Manuel, Ethical Corporation Magazine | October 20, 2017
The global food giant is working with a range of partners to increase its use of renewables, decrease emissions and tackle deforestation, according to its latest integrated annual report.

Cargill has a high–profile sustainability agenda. Following President Trump's decision to exit the Paris Agreement, Cargill chairman and CEO David MacLennan was quick to step up and declare the company's continued commitment to address climate change in its global food and agriculture supply chains.

Headquartered in Minnesota, with 155,000 employees in 70 countries, the global food, agriculture and financial services group, which boasts revenues of $27.3bn (compared to $27.1bn the previous year), is one of the world's largest, with extremely complex supply chains, including purchasing, storing and transporting crops, grain and other agricultural commodities; and manufacturing and processing of food ingredients and livestock feed.

The company's integrated annual report re–affirms Cargill's commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and its alignment with the SDGs, and shows that it is making good strides on its 2020 targets: greenhouse gas intensity, energy efficiency, freshwater efficiency and renewable energy.

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'Joined–Up Thinking' Needed Between Dairy And Beef  
Niall Claffey, Agriland | October 23, 2017
The value of beef output from the dairy herd will equal 60% of the total Irish beef output in years to come. Therefore, it will be the dominant sector of the Irish beef industry. It is predicted that by 2021, the number of dairy–beef calves will increase to 630,000; up from 493,000 in 2015.

Results from a Teagasc survey found that 43% of dairy farmers valued calving ease as the most important trait for selecting a beef bull.

Australia's Beef Tariff into Korea Jumps to 40pc, After Safeguard Triggered

Jon Condon, Beef Central | October 17, 2017
Australia on Friday triggered a Safeguard market protection mechanism in the Korean export market, causing an immediate tariff increase from 29.4pc to 40pc for Australian beef for the remainder of the calendar year. What does it mean for Australian exports?

Russia Ramps Up Meat Production as Import Ban Remains In Place
Rog Wood, Herald Scotland | October 16, 2017

Russia announced at the end of June that its current import embargo has been extended until the end of 2018. Since the embargo, Russian meat imports have fallen considerably while domestic production of pork, poultry meat, beef and sheep meat is soaring.

Russia first placed an embargo on imported food products, from a number of origins, including the EU and US in August 2014, as a result of geopolitical tensions.

With the embargo being in place now for three years and set to remain for at least the next 15 months, Russia's aim to become self–sufficient, has become a necessity.

Australia World's Largest Beef and Veal Exporter, New Report Says  
Colin Bettles, North Queensland Register | October 18, 2017

A new industry report has provided a snapshot of the Australian red meat sector's economic output and leading performance on the global exporting stage exceeding traditional powerhouses like the US and Brazil.

The 'State of the Industry Report: The Australian Red Meat and Livestock Industry' was compiled by Ernst & Young, which was engaged on the instructions of the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), and contains information current as of June 30 this year.

The Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) said the report was commissioned by MLA at its request and that of its member councils, like the Cattle Council of Australia.

In the report's foreword, RMAC Chair Don Mackay said comprising the beef, sheepmeat and goatmeat sectors, the Australian red meat industry feeds 24 million Australians, provided 405,000 Australian jobs through direct and indirect employment and generated $15 billion in export revenue through the supply of more than 100 global markets

USDA Withdraws GIPSA Rule GIPSA Rule Bites the Dust, But Will the Dust–Up Continue?
Troy Marshall, Beef Magazine | October 19, 2017

We all knew it was coming, but USDA announced earlier this week that it was not moving forward with the "Farmer Fair Practices Rules" or GIPSA rule as it was commonly referred to within the industry. Ag economists, academia and every segment of our business, along with the major associations representing the pork and beef industries, celebrated the decision.

The widespread consensus was that this a rule that would have had devastating unintended consequences, and like most regulations would have resulted in reduced competition, increased consolidation and costly expenses to the industry.

Increased prices at the consumer level, increased production costs, less competition, more consolidation and movement away from quality value–added production back to more conventional commodity pricing that benefits the big players, is not a formula that had much support in the livestock industry. The National Pork Producers Association (NPPC) and NCBA both sent out releases applauding the decision.

Colorado's Beef Producers See Big Chill Ahead If NAFTA Goes Away
Joe Rubino, The Denver Post via Greeley Tribune | October 21, 2017

If the North American Free Trade Agreement ends, it could mean a very big chill on one of Colorado's biggest industries: beef.

Today, Colorado beef producers enjoy duty–free, unlimited access to Canada and Mexico, the state's top trade partners. The Colorado Cattlemen's Association estimates Colorado sells a combined $380 million in beef to the two countries each year.

If NAFTA goes away, trade between the U.S. and its North American neighbors could revert to rules maintained by the World Trade Organization, said Joe Schuele, spokesman for the Denver–based U.S. Meat Export Federation.

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