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


Executive Director's Message

We are now in the final week for comments on our Antimicrobial Stewardship Statement. (View PDF).

Please do submit your comments to comments@grsbeef.org by February 2nd. We will then have a month to make edits to the document and a revised version will be circulated to members in March for a second round (30 days) of comments.

I would also like to touch on the subject of animal welfare this week. You may recall that Lesley Mitchell of Good Food Futures became a member of GRSB offering to be a link for animal welfare issues with the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock. GASL has formed an Animal Welfare Action Network (View PDF)  led by Lesley, and she is now collecting case studies on animal welfare, particularly to demonstrate the value of welfare in sustainable production and in the delivery of the sustainable development goals. If you are interested in sharing information or a case study please use the link to access a description of what is requested and instructions on how to do it.

Another forum in which we engage is the High Level Panel of Experts of the Committee on Food Security. There have been genuine efforts to increase the profile of livestock in this discussion and emphasise their importance in food security and livelihoods. I have been requested to comment on a document to be presented to the panel in October 2018 on multi stakeholder initiatives and their role in food security I will be submitting a fuller description of GRSB and our network and members, as although there is mention of GRSB at the moment it is not detailed.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Welcome to the Table…
Bord Bia, The Irish Food Board
Dateline: January 2018 | Constituency: Consulting Member
Bord Bia is an Irish semi–state organization responsible for the promotion of Irish food, drink and horticulture in Ireland and overseas. The role of Bord Bia is to act as a link between Irish food, drink and horticulture suppliers and existing and potential customers throughout the world. Their objective is to develop markets for Irish suppliers and to bring the taste of Irish food to more tables world–wide.

Bord Bia operates a series of sustainable quality assurance schemes for the food industry. The schemes are built on best practice in farming and processing, current legislation, relevant industry guidelines and international standards – and are accredited to the ISO17065/2012. Bord Bia also runs the Origin Green program which is Ireland's food and drink sustainability program uniting government, the private sector and food producers through Bord Bia. Origin Green enables Ireland's food industry to set and achieve measurable sustainability targets, establishing a baseline for continuous improvement.

Agricultural Ministers Call for Action on Sustainable Livestock Production for SDG Implementation
Stefan Jungcurt, IISD | January 20, 2018
Agricultural Ministers and representatives of international organizations participating in the tenth Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) stressed the need for action towards more sustainable, responsible and efficient livestock production and animal husbandry to address global challenges, including SDG 2 (Zero Hunger); SDG 3 (Good Health and Well–being); and SDG 13 (Climate Action).

In their final communique, the 69 agricultural ministers attending the Forum recognize that making livestock production and animal husbandry more sustainable, responsible and efficient will play a crucial role in in advancing the right to adequate food and implementing the 2030 Agenda.

The Communique includes a'Call for Action,' outlining targets, commitments and actions towards strengthening the role of livestock in: ensuring food security and nutrition; improving livelihoods; conserving natural resources, protecting the environment and addressing climate change; and improving animal health and animal welfare.

This is a story about the importance of ranchers to conservation; given the amount of land that ranchers around the world manage, and the relatively biodiverse nature of ranches compared to cropland, we should not be surprised by these facts. Often the measures taken by ranchers to conserve species on their land deliver a substantial'bang for their buck" in biodiversity terms. see this Canadian (3:32) video.
Cattle Ranchers Join Conservationists To Save Endangered Species And Rangelands
Diana Hembree, Forbes | January 5, 2018
Idaho rancher Jerry Hoagland likes working under the open sky. He's seen all kinds of wildlife, from elk and coyotes to eagles and mountain lions. But he had never heard of the endangered Columbia spotted frog before it was discovered on his ranch.

Enter Idaho's division of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Hoagland learned that the wildlife agency was willing to split the cost of creating ponds and wetlands on private ranches to support the spotted frog and other endangered species. With shallow edges for spawning and deeper water for hiding, the ponds would serve as virtual incubators for biodiversity.

Hoagland says several years ago, he dug about 20 ponds ("including some dried–up old beaver ponds") on his land at upper Reynolds Creek for the Columbia spotted frog. In a documentary commissioned by the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission, the Owyhee County rancher reports the spotted frog population was growing steadily.

"A beaver turned four small ponds into one large pond, which was absolutely amazing," he said. "We counted over 120 juveniles and I don't know how many adults in that pond. We're finding more frogs, and we'll probably help keep it off the (endangered species) list."

Gove Shows True Vision at Oxford Farming Conference  
Richard Halleron, AgriLand | January 7, 2018
Irish agri–food will, no doubt, be breathing a sigh of relief, given the comments made by Department of Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Secretary, Michael Gove, to this year's Oxford Farming Conference.

Specifically, he said that the UK will seek to secure a free trade deal with the EU–27. He also inferred that continuing levy–free access for Irish beef to the British market would be included within this measure. Bord Bia's Origin Green initiative would then have the opportunity to truly reflect the potential of the Irish food sector to deliver on the vision of sustainable intensification.

This is a principle that was strongly championed by Simon Coveney during his time as Ireland's former minister for agriculture, food and the marine.

While we have an article lower down on the positive role that companies can play in reducing environmental impact, it is worth considering the costs of not doing so; the case studies below look at risks to businesses from continuing to be involved with deforestation.
Case Studies Series; Business Risks from Deforestation
Ceres, Engage the Chain
Companies that fail to manage their environmental performance expose themselves to business risks. For instance, rising consumer and investor awareness about the environmental and social impacts of deforestation is placing increased scrutiny on companies that source commodities from high–risk deforestation to ensure that their products are not sourced with illegal or questionable environmental practices.

Companies that ignore this scrutiny subject themselves to potential regulatory action, or loss of customers, which can translate into negative financial consequences.

Cows Exude Lots of Methane, But Taxing Beef Won't Cut Emissions
The Conversation.com | January 14, 2018
Will taxing meat products based on their carbon footprint reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve public health? The answer is maybe, but not notably — and it will come with significant costs.

A recent study in the journal Nature Climate Change advocates applying taxes to the consumption of meat as a means of lowering GHG emissions.

The idea is that if meat is more expensive, consumers will buy less of it. In turn, when faced with reduced consumption, farmers will produce less cattle.

While it's clear we need to proactively reduce GHG emissions globally, we believe the emissions tax approach is unlikely to achieve success.

An alternative headline might have been "'Eat Good Meat' Underlines the Role of Animals in the Ecosystem"
'Eat Less Meat' Ignores the Role of Animals in the Ecosystem 
Ariel Greenwood, Civil Eats | January 26, 2018
Given the concerns over resource–intensive industrial meat production, you'd think the resounding message would be, "don't buy cheap meat, buy good meat."

Instead, a rule of thumb that has emerged in environmentalists' circles is simply "eat less meat." This statement frames meat as an indulgence rather than 1) the end result of an essential and timeless ecological process (the biological breakdown of vegetation, which feeds the soil and removes dead grass so that new vegetation can grow) and 2) a fulcrum in the way land across the world is managed or mismanaged.

But perpetuating the myth that all meat is the same means that the potential benefits of responsibly raised meat never get a sufficient foothold. By telling only half the story, we're perpetuating the problem because we never bother to mention the solution.

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Welcome to our newest member: Bord Bia!
2017 Strongest Year on Record for Irish Meat Exports – Bord Bia  
Amy Forde, Irish Farmers Journal | January 9, 2018
Irish meat exports were the highest on record in 2017 and were worth €3.8bn, Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy has outlined at the annual Bord Bia Meat Marketing Seminar.

Speaking at the seminar, Bord Bia CEO Tara McCarthy said: "Developments such as increased market access this year, set alongside trade figures, can leave us in no doubt about our meat industry's ability to be competitive globally.

"Population growth, growing consumer affluence and greater demand for meat are creating a long–term opportunity for us, while Bord Bia's commitments to quality, sustainability and consumer insight mean we've never been better placed to capitalise on them.

"Bord Bia is working strategically with the industry to anticipate and respond to the new market realities when faced with Brexit and other challenges."

Though ranchers play a hugely important role in conservation as covered in the article above, I recently came across an article which claimed that sustainability "is what ranchers are already doing".

While that is true for a proportion of the ranchers all over the world, it is clearly not true for all of them everywhere. If it were, there would be no need for roundtables for sustainable beef etc, and reducing sustainability to only what ranchers do ignores the roles of all of the others in the chain who have as much to contribute to and as much to gain from sustainability as ranchers do.

See below for the contributions that food companies are making through commitments to protecting the Cerrado in Brazil. As pointed out in the article, with the amount of already deforested land, and the implementation of both good agricultural and ranching practices, Brazil could produce more crops and more beef without converting any more land.

This has, in fact, been the trend in Brazil over the past two decades (reducing the amount of land per tonne of food produced), but demand grows constantly and food companies need to play their part to ensure that what they are sourcing is produced sustainably.

Saving the Cerrado, Brazil's Vital Savanna  
WWF.org | January 25, 2018
It can be difficult growing up in your big sister's shadow, which may be how Brazil's Cerrado savanna feels.

Covering a quarter of Brazil, the Cerrado is one of the world's most important ecosystems, yet it's far less well–known than its neighbor to the north, the Amazon rainforest.

For more than 30 years, the Amazon has been the poster–forest for the environmental movement. And deforestation in the Amazon is largely slowing down. Unfortunately, however, the Cerrado continues to lose ground to expanding beef and soy production, plus other commodities and infrastructure. In fact, losses in the Cerrado have been greater than those in the Amazon for the past decade.

Fortunately, there's hope on the horizon. On Jan. 25, 61 of the world's largest food companies committed to working to halt deforestation in the Cerrado. This builds on previous commitments that these and other companies are implementing to protect the Amazon and other forests.

Thinking Circular with More Sustainable Packaging and Recycling
By 2025, the World Bank estimates a staggering 6 million tons of waste will be produced each day. What's more, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and World Economic Forum predicts that by 2050, oceans will contain more plastics than fish. Added to this, the world's landfill waste continues to emit methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide.

As the world's largest restaurant company, we have the responsibility and opportunity to take action on some of the most pressing social and environmental challenges in the world today. We know that our vast, global supply chain can have a significant impact on the planet. And we're constantly improving our sourcing, packaging and transportation processes to lessen that footprint.

When you operate over 37,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries serving 69 million people each day, even small changes can make a big difference.

Cargill Launches Certified Beef Traceability Pilot
International Leather Maker | January 5, 2018
In Canada, Cargill says it is launching a pilot to trace and verify a fully certified beef supply chain that meets the criteria for the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Through the program, customers are to receive fully audited beef, while farmers and ranchers will earn a financial credit for participating.

"We are building businesses today that will provide our customers and consumers with the products and solutions they are seeking tomorrow", said MacLennan. "We are thinking differently about how to create positive impact and increase consumer trust."

GRSB Announces 2018 Executive Committee
Tri–State Livestock News | January 10, 2018
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) is proud to announce the election of Ms. Nicole Johnson–Hoffman, Chief Sustainability Officer and Senior Vice President for OSI Group, as President of the GRSB. Additionally, Dr. Leon Mol, Director of Product Safety & Social Compliance for Ahold Delhaize has been elected Vice President, and Cameron Bruett, Head of Corporate Affairs for JBS, has been re–elected Executive Committee Member At–Large.

Ms. Johnson–Hoffman, formerly GRSB Vice President, replaces Mr. Dennis Laycraft of Canadian Cattlemen's Association, who exits after serving a full, 2–year term, and who will now formally serve as Past President. Dr. Leon Mol is new to the GRSB Executive Committee after serving on the Board of Directors, and Mr. Cameron Bruett is also a Past President of GRSB.

These three new GRSB leaders join Mr. Carlos Saviani of World Wildlife Fund, who is the Secretary – Treasurer, and Executive Committee Member At–Large, Dr. Ignacio Blanco–Traba of McDonald's Global, to make up the 2018 GRSB Executive Committee.

Cargill Investing In PURIS to Accelerate Pea Protein Production for North American and Global Markets
Cargill.com | January 17, 2018
With the rapid rise in consumer demand for plant–based protein, PURIS, the largest North American producer of pea protein, and Cargill have signed a joint venture agreement to accelerate a new wave of great tasting, sustainable and label–friendly plant–based foods.

"PURIS is a game changer in terms of taste and vertical integration in pea protein," said David Henstrom, vice president, Cargill Starches, Sweeteners and Texturizers. "Cargill is excited to expand into the emerging pea protein space while continuing to support our conventional agricultural crops. It's clear that PURIS is in alignment with Cargill's vision to meet the growing demand for protein globally and to help customers deliver label–friendly products without sacrificing taste."

Cattle Council Outlines Its Next Steps
Beef Central | January 23, 2018
In a media release, Cattle Council of Australia says it is committed to moving the organisation forward with a model that demonstrates increased transparency and increased representation across the beef industry.
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Superclusters: Creating a Silicon Valley for Agriculture and Food  
Glenn Cheater, Jennifer Blair, Alberta Farmer Express | January 15, 2018
So what would you rather have — new lucrative'plant protein' markets or a way to turn Big Data into bigger profits?

Those are the goals of the two agriculture and agri–food proposals vying for a slice of $950 million of federal cash that Ottawa will spend on'superclusters' — business–led collaborations that aim to turn innovative ideas into powerful engines of the Canadian economy.

"Canada needs to continue to be competitive on the world stage," said Ron Styles, acting president of an organization backing a supercluster proposal to boost both production and processing of pulses and other crops in Western Canada.

"The whole idea is to increase economic growth. That is at the heart of it."

Farmers Cull Stock as Heat Hits Home   
Alexa Cook, Radio New Zealand | January 17, 2018
Farmers are sending stock to slaughter early because the dry weather means they don't have enough feed. New figures from the Meat Board show that compared to this time last year, 16 percent more cattle have been slaughtered, 9.4 percent more lambs, and 16 percent more mutton. Beef and Lamb New Zealand South Island farmer director Andrew Morrison said the island was parched.

"High temperatures and the wind we've been having is just sucking the moisture out of the ground." While the weather is good news for holidaymakers, farmers were having to make tough decisions, Mr Morrison said.

Plant protein meat alternatives such as the "Impossible burger" are already available in restaurants; whether they will make big inroads against real meat remains to be seen, but it seems they are here to stay as another protein choice (see also Cargill article above).
Is Alternative Meat a Wild Card In Consumers' Protein Choices?  
Wes Ishmael, BEEF Magazine | January 17, 2018
Would you eat barbecue that wasn't really barbecue? Depending on consumer acceptance, beef may have more competition than pork and poultry on the near horizon. A couple of the nation's largest beef packers are already vested in alternative protein companies.

Tyson Ventures—established in 2016 with a $150 million commitment from Tyson Foods—bought a 5% stake in the plant–based protein business, Beyond Meat (BM).

Its cornerstone Beyond Burger is offered by more than 5,000 supermarkets; it's on the menu of more than 2,000 restaurants. Tyson added to its BM stake in December.

"Global demand for all protein remains high and we're passionate about meeting that demand sustainably," explained Justin Whitmore, Tyson Foods executive vice president corporate strategy and chief sustainability officer. "Our investment in Beyond Meat provides another fantastic alternative for consumers as we strive to sustainably feed the world."

North Queensland Live Export Cattle Bound for China  
Shan Goodwin and Jessica Johnston, Queensland Country Life | January 22, 2018
A new market for the North's beef producers has opened up after the first shipment of live cattle to China was loaded out of Townsville last week.

The consignment of 1600 crossbred cattle was prepared by the North Australian Cattle Company (NACC) and is scheduled to discharge in China's Zhejiang province this week after a 10–day voyage.

The breakthrough shipment represents the first export of northern cattle since animal health protocols with China were finalised alongside the Australia–China Free Trade Agreement in 2015.

The trade is expected have a significant influence on Australia's beef industry with exporters suggesting the Chinese demand for live cattle for immediate processing could see up to a million head a year shipped.

Zambia: DBZ Calls for Livestock Sector Sustainable Growth
Cassey Kayula, All Africa | January 22, 2018
The Development Bank of Zambia (DBZ) has called for the development of the livestock sector through the provision of sustained financing options and affordable vaccines across the country.

DBZ managing director Jacob Lushinga said improved access to veterinary services and vaccines will help reduce waste and livestock disease outbreaks, especially among small holder farmers.

Botswana: Savannah Degradation Threatens Country
Esther Mmolai, All Africa | January 23, 2018
Maun — Degradation of the savannah ecosystem has emerged as a serious threat to the country's biodiversity and livestock–based economy. Local Enterprise Authority (LEA) manager, Mr Agrippa Hengari revealed during Conservation Agreement (CA) training workshop, which attracted stakeholders in Ngamiland District. He said reduced resilience of the rangeland ecosystem was increasing the vulnerability of pastoral communities to environmental change and climate change.

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