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


Executive Director's Message

In the past two weeks you may have seen a lot of coverage on the subject of antibiotics, particularly in response to WHO's release of recommendations for the use of antibiotics in agriculture. There was a swift response from the USDA, which made it clear that the recommendations were based on low quality evidence.

Last week was antibiotic awareness week, to raise the issue of increasing antibiotic resistance (AMR) and the fact that development of new antibiotics has slowed over the last two decades due to the costs and lengthy procedures involved. The European Union issued this statement on its actions to address AMR.

Many of you will already be aware of retailers approaches to reducing antibiotic use in livestock e.g. McDonald's, A&W, and Wendy's, and I previously mentioned the recent San Francisco ordinance that is set to require grocers to collect and disclose information about antibiotics used by the livestock producers that supply their meat.

We are working to update our previous statement on antibiotic stewardship to ensure that we are part of keeping antibiotics viable for human and animal use where necessary. I will keep you informed about any developments.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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GRSB Board of Directors for 2018

It is with pleasure we announce the results of the elections just
completed by the GRSB constituency groups.

Producer Constituency:
Canadian Cattlemen's Association
National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Beef + Lamb New Zealand

Commerce and Processing Constituency:
SAI Platform
OSI Group

Retail Constituency:
McDonald's Corporation
A&W Food Services of Canada
Ahold Delhaize

Civil Society Constituency:
Rainforest Alliance
World Wildlife Fund

Roundtable Constituency:
U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Mesa de Ganadería Sostenible de Colombia
Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
GTPS – Brazilian Roundtable for Sustainable Livestock


Greener Livestock Supply Chains Offer Quick Wins in Climate Battle
EIN News Desk | November 14, 2017
The agricultural sectors are where efforts to end hunger and prevent planetary overheating can come together, and improving livestock supply chains is a fast way to start, FAO Director–General José Graziano da Silva said today.

"Low carbon livestock is possible," he said on the margins of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Agriculture accounts for a large share of greenhouse gas emissions but is also the "most exposed of all economic sectors to the effect of climate change," Graziano da Silva said. He noted that adverse effects disproportionately burdened the world's poorest and most vulnerable people, most of whom live in rural areas relying on farming, forestry and fisheries for their livelihoods.

Almost two–thirds of the poorest rural households raise and rely on livestock. "With improved and climate–smart practices, we can quickly achieve more sustainable, 'greener' livestock supply chains," Graziano da Silva said.v

Sustainability's Blueprint  
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.

Be Bold and Brand …Or Be a Price Taker
Shan Goodwin, Stock & Land | November 3, 2017
Most of Australian beef's competitors can not deliver what discerning customers of the future want.

When you can do things that others can't, therein lies incredible opportunity. Be bold and grasp that.

This was the message delivered by Red Meat Advisory Council chairman Don Mackay at the Australian Lot Feeders Association annual conference, SmartBeef 2017, in Armidale this week.

Mr Mackay believes brands are the future for Australian beef.

China's Sustainability Declaration an Opportunity for Farmers, Says WWF  
Beef Central | November 09, 2017
World Wildlife Fund Australia CEO Dermot O'Gorman provides an opinion about the recent Chinese Sustainable Meat Declaration, and its significance for the Australian beef industry.

This is a significant achievement by Bord Bia, showing a possible way ahead for other countries and sectors. As the dairy industry in Ireland expands, more and more beef comes from the dairy industry there. No doubt we will hear a lot more about the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme at our Global Conference in Kilkenny next year.

100% of Dairy Farmers to Receive Sustainability Certification by Early 2018  
Conor Finnerty, Agriland | November 09, 2017
Meanwhile, Bord Bia's CEO outlined that the feedback to its new Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS) – which it launched earlier this year – has been very positive.

"There has been a clear movement by us to address the close–out issues that had been a huge area of concern for farmers. That's been hugely welcomed.

"We have also now introduced a helpline for farmers as part of that, which there is a very strong uptake to. The feedback to date has been very positive for all involved," she said.

The SBLAS sets out the agreed standards for the production and certification of Irish beef and lamb.

Ontario Beef Farmers Share Production Techniques in Beef Research Council Video 
Diego Flammini, Farms.com | November 13, 2017
Members of Ontario's beef community shared some of their production practices and their environmental impacts in a recent Beef Research Council video.

From manure and nutrition management to rotational grazing, beef producers are at the forefront of creating a more sustainable industry.

"We want producers to understand that environmental footprints are important," Dr. Katie Wood, an assistant professor in the University of Guelph's animal biosciences department, told Farms.com today. "Some of the research we're doing, paired with some of the things producers already do, can help to minimize the environmental footprint of beef production."

Watch 7:24 video HERE.

I include the article below here, because it is a message that is undoubtedly spread at meetings such as COP23 in Bonn, and in many other fora. Note Don Mackay's advice in the article above – be bold; yes, enteric methane emissions exist, and the beef industry needs to accept that while they might not be as significant as often portrayed, denial is not going to help us.

So, we need to highlight the considerable successes that we have had in developed countries in reducing overall emissions, we need to show that there are significant gains to be made in the future with feed additives that not only reduce enteric emissions, but which improve feed efficiency at the same time.

If we embrace the financial advantages of efficient and sustainable production, we will benefit whilst addressing some of the main issues used by detractors to criticise the beef industry. See this article about branding beef with lowered emissions
'Cows and Cars Must Be on Same Agenda,' Says Food Awareness Organization  
Jennifer Hermes, Environmental Leader | November 3, 2017
The livestock sector is one of the leading causes of climate change, responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than global transport, and ProVeg International plans to meet with policy makers and delegates at COP23 to highlight the issue. To date, agriculture has not been on the agenda at any previous UN Climate Change conference and has so far remained free from climate protection measures, according to ProVeg.

"By focusing so narrowly on energy and transport, policymakers have been excluding the key missing piece of the puzzle. Now is the time to have cars and cows on the same climate agenda, otherwise the industrial juggernaut that is animal agriculture will destroy our planet," says Jimmy Pierson, director of ProVeg UK.

Next week's UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany, is designed to increase climate action and more sustainable development at all levels of society, the event's website explains. Alongside COP23 is the Sustainable Innovation Forum, which brings together more than 600 hand picked delegates including Ministers of Energy and Climate Change, CEOs, mayors, investors, development banks, entrepreneurs and media for keynotes, panel discussions, and networking.

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USRSB Unveils Sustainability Tools for the Beef Community
Tri–State Livestock News | November 15, 2017
The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) today announced the release of USRSB Sustainability Metrics, the latest tool helping those who raise, buy, and sell beef understand ways to balance and improve their environmental impact, social responsibility, and financial bottom line.

"The USRSB Sustainability Metrics are a result of two years of work from the entire beef community and I am proud of the results," said Nancy Labbe of World Wildlife Fund, a member of the USRSB. "I believe these metrics are where we need to start. They address areas that are truly important in the beef sustainability conversation."

As part of volunteer leadership, Labbe helped guide over 100 members as they developed USRSB Sustainability Metrics, a process that allowed each sector of the beef value chain to oversee their own metric development while receiving feedback from all members.

Grassfed Restructure – Funding a Big Step Forward, But Questions Remain
James Nason, Beef Central | November 02, 2017
Long–running efforts to create a new directly–elected body to represent all grassfed cattle producers across Australia took a small but significant step forward with the awarding of a $500,000 Federal Government grant toward the process last Friday.

The grant does not solve the outstanding question of how the new peak body, to be called Cattle Australia, will be funded in the long–term.

The committee brought together representatives of several disparate cattle industry groups, with the task of reaching an agreed path forward on a new structure to represent all grassfed cattle producers nationally.

Export Industries Welcome the Re–Branded TPP
New Zealand Herald | November 12, 2017
Beef and Lamb New Zealand and the Meat Industry Association today welcomed the announcement of the new deal which has been coined the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans–Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Sam McIvor, chief executive of Beef and Lamb New Zealand, said the CPTPP would deliver significant gains to the sector.

"New Zealand's regions are hugely reliant on revenue flowing as a result of exports. Trade is the lifeblood for our sector, which in turn creates jobs and supports communities around New Zealand," he said.

Rabobank Research: Australian Consumers Are Still Wasting Food
Jamie–Lee Oldfield, The Weekly Times | November 1, 2017
Australian consumers have good intentions, but they are still wasting $9.6 billion worth of food every year.

The latest research from Rabobank shows 48 per cent of Australians are concerned that fruit and vegetables were rejected by supermarkets due to imperfections.

More than 65 per cent of Aussie consumers "prefer to buy local produce and support local growers and are happy to pay more for it", while 80 per cent "believe in the importance of farmers for the wellbeing of the nation".

However, the knowledge gap between producers and consumers means the country's biggest wasters of food don't realise the impact their habits are having.

Workshops Pitch Less Stress for Cattle And Farmer 
Alexis Stockford, Manitoba Co–operator | November 07, 2017
It's time to start thinking like cattle when it comes to moving animals.

That's the message Tom Noffsinger had for cattle producers during a string of low–stress cattle–handling workshops and talks near Brandon through the end of October. Three events were put on through Merck Animal Health, including a public talk Oct. 16 and field workshops hosted Oct. 19 and Oct. 27 at Manitoba Beef and Forage Initiatives (MBFI) north of Forrest.

Handlers should focus on leading, not driving cattle, Noffsinger said, a method he says is more aligned with cattle's natural instincts and will therefore take less time and result in less frustration for both human and animal.

The article below suggests that there are people in New Zealand who would appreciate the emergence of a multi stakeholder initiative there to address sustainability concerns. We heard a year ago about the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme, which aims to address sustainability across roughly the same range of issues that GRSB's Principles and Criteria do. Perhaps opening that up to include other stakeholders could meet meet the purpose without reinventing the wheel?

'Accept Where We're Weak' – Farming Industry Group  
Alexa Cook, Radio New Zealand | November 03, 2017
Beef and Lamb New Zealand general manager of policy Dave Harrison said farmers had an important role to play in environmental issues.

"There are things we have to begin addressing around water issues and climate change and protection of native species. Mr Harrison believed there was a lot of willingness in the farming sector to move forward.

Beef and Lamb had put a lot of emphasis on placing the environment at the centre of what it did, he said.

Report: 69% of Consumers Want More Transparency About Company Sustainability Practices  
Jeff Wells, Food Dive | November 08, 2017
"Sustainability" is a term that gets thrown around a lot in the supermarket industry, and many interpret it as referring exclusively to environmental measures like recycling, reducing emissions and using renewable materials.

As The Hartman Group notes, however, these days the term also touches on labor issues, animal welfare and other measures involved during product development. Sustainability, in essence, refers to anything that goes on behind the scenes. Shoppers want to know that companies are ethically sustainable as well as environmentally sustainable.

More than just a feel–good measure, increasing transparency around different aspects of sustainability can increase sales, according to The Hartman Group.

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The following two articles from South Africa and Cambodia. We need to remember when we talk about sustainability, that the food security that we take for granted is a privilege.

The high level of productivity we enjoy is by no means replicated all around the world: look at the calving rates around Africa – in some cases as low as 15% and even in the South African commercial sector only 61%.

Think also of countries like Cambodia, where not only is the idea of 'overconsumption' an unimaginable waste, but where 32% of children were still chronically malnourished in 2014.

The developing world still needs help to address these issues – while we are trying to establish roundtables in some of these areas, we should recognise that their form and purpose will inevitably differ from those in more developed regions. Exchange of knowledge and skills between the regions could be a valuable contribution of GRSB and our network.

Low Rural Calving Rates Threaten Africa's Food Security  
Farmer's Weekly | November 3, 2017
According to a 2014 livestock futures study by the UN, Africa is the continent where 'sustainable intensification' of agriculture and livestock systems could achieve significant benefits.

These include food security, increased sustainable incomes for smallholder farmers, higher net food exports and trade balance deficit reduction, smallholder competitiveness and ecosystem services.

Sustainable intensification would require, inter alia, the increased provision of services, inputs, appropriate institutional support, and market/value chain development.

These are all essential to making livestock operations more viable, but they remain mere jargon at a macro level if something concrete is not done at grassroots level.

Plan to Defeat Hunger
Sen David, Khmer Times | November 6, 2017
Mr Hun Sen said the first strategy advocates more household or community crops, such as in gardens, schools or pagodas, to increase quantities and quality of food.

The second measure aims to promote broader raising of sustainable livestock to ensure the supply of meat and boost food safety.

The third encourages the protection and preservation of fisheries and to promote aquaculture development for domestic consumption and export.

And here's an example of a country that wants to become less dependent on imports, which is certainly logical, but does not necessarily have the level of skilled producers they need to do this in the most efficient or sustainable way possible.

And here’s an example of a country that wants to become less dependent on imports, which is certainly logical, but does not necessarily have the level of skilled producers they need to do this in the most efficient or sustainable way possible.
A Warning for Vanuatu As It Grows Its Cattle Numbers

Radio New Zealand | November 06, 2017

RThe Vanuatu government has been told to move cautiously as it strives to grow its beef industry. The government has been aggressively pushing its cattle breeding programme over the past year and has ambitions to get the national herd up to half a million head.

But the chief executive of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Andrew Campbell, said the growth had to be sustainable.

He said there were excellent cattle research projects in Vanuatu, in collaboration with the University of Queensland, which show that production can be substantially increased, but there was a caveat.

"A general rule of thumb is that it is better off to have fewer animals and feed them better than to try and grow production by just having lots more animals. And so that would be a cautionary note."

The Opportunity for Australian Beef Lies In Genuine Supply Chains
James Nason, Beef Central | November 07, 2017

The continued growth of large, relationship–based beef supply chains in recent years, linking producers able to consistently supply cattle within precise quality specifications to customers able to pay more for a premium article, was a dominant theme at ALFA's 2017 SmartBeef conference in Armidale.

The below from Northern Ireland is more about the evolution of the industry and the forthcoming changes it has to face due to Brexit etc than sustainability per se, hence its inclusion in this section.
'Beef Industry Has A Sustainable Future'
Farming Life | November 4, 2017

There is a sustainable future for beef production in Northern Ireland, according to Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive Ian Stevenson.

"The good news is that the potential to grow more grass and, as a consequence, produce more beef is significant. So the general prospects for the industry moving forward must be positive," he said. "But that's not to say we won't have challenges to face. And, looking down the track, Brexit is by far the most significant of these."

Stevenson agrees that even if the UK walked away from the Brexit negotiations with a 'no deal' outcome, there is significant potential for Northern Ireland's beef industry to secure a greater foothold in the GB market.

American Angus Announces Acquisition of Verified Beef
Feedstuffs | November 04, 2017

The American Angus Assn. has announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets of Verified Beef, including its proprietary Reputation Feeder Cattle program. The deal underscores the association's commitment to programs that increase the use of registered Angus bulls in the commercial segment, growing value for the Angus breed and the entire membership.

Association chief executive officer Allen Moczygemba said establishing a feeder calf program built on the use of registered Angus bulls that ties calves back to superior Angus genetics was a strategic priority set by the board in 2016.

EU Injects $30m Towards Beef Production
New Zimbabwe | November 14, 2017

Zimbabwe was once the largest exporter of beef to the EU market amont all the Southern African countries. Things changed when the government decided to seize land from white commercial farmers most of which were the producers of the beef which the country was exporting.

"In total, the EU is providing $29,610,600 (EUR 25,500,000) for projects that aim at improving economic, social and environmental performance of value chains and also their direct enabling environment including business and financial services and provision of animal feed at reduced costs," said EU in a statement Tuesday.

"EU wishes to Strengthen service provision for developing sustainable agriculture value chains, supporting the development of sustainable, high potential livestock based value chains," said EU.

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