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


Executive Director's Message

This week the USRSB are having their annual meeting; I know they have been very busy over the last months, so I am sure that there will be a lot to discuss. A lot of progress being made in North America, and you may have read this article last week by Amanda Radke expressing the concerns of many of her readers about just exactly what it is that GRSB and our members are engaged in.

I think that while the conclusions a lot of those producers are drawing are not based on fact, and are mostly incorrect, they are quite understandable. The very best way to counter these kind of concerns is to get out there and talk to the people who have them, and put forward our case, which is that if we don't have the information on the benefits of grasslands and their good management, we wont have arguments to make against those who want to set policy against us.

In a response to an article in Fortune about taxing meat, Dan Murphy made this response in Drovers; while he's right – he is talking to his own constituency. We need to make sure that messages like his are reaching policy makers, because you can be absolutely sure that they are hearing the other side's arguments about taxing meat. And to support that we need data.

With the research into AMP grazing that is being undertaken in the US, we will have much more information about the extent of the benefits of grazing, not only in terms of Carbon sequestration, but the whole farm benefits, including the all important economics for the producers.

Even international organisations are producing more balanced information about livestock and the importance of animal protein in the diet and feeding the world's poor. See this from FAO. I'm looking forward to our board meeting next week in Chicago and hope to see many of you there.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Elanco President Offers Ag Enthusiasts Recipe for Reinvention  
Feedstuffs | February 16, 2018
"Science is the answer, but it has a credibility crisis," Elanco Animal Health president Jeff Simmons told participants in a recent keynote for Canada Ag Day. "Already, one in three in our world get the wrong nutrition, from malnutrition to obesity, and we're drastically overusing Earth's resources. If we're going to meet a 60% increase in demand for animal protein in the coming years, we have to do things differently."

"Instead of boldly telling our story, we, in agriculture, simply reacted to issues. We allowed our practices and innovations to be used as a negative differentiator for marketing purposes. As we look forward, we need to do a better job of explaining how science and innovation can help us meet the world's growing appetite for protein in a sustainable way," Simmons said.

Sustainability a Matter of Economics, JBS Exec Says  
Jeff Rice, Journal–Advocate | February 21, 2018
Agricultural sustainability is more than just taking care of the environment, according to an executive of the world's second–largest food company.

Cameron Bruett, vice president of corporate affairs and sustainability for JBS, told the Governor's Forum on Colorado Agriculture Wednesday morning that ag sustainability is a "holistic effort." Bruett was the morning keynote speaker for the 27th annual conference and expressed little love for trendy, niche–marketed ag products. He said true sustainability has as much to do with economics as it does with grass–fed beef and free–range chickens.

"When we talk about sustainability, the focus has always been on the environment, but sustainability has to be more than just the environment," Bruett said. "Everything we do in agriculture is about sustainability. At the end of the day, you have to have economic success to invest in the environment, so it's a holistic effort."

Better Veld Management a Boon for Livestock Farmers  
Farmers Weekly | February 12, 2018
The long–term economic viability of extensive animal production systems relied mainly on the condition of the veld. Sustainable animal production would only be possible when the veld and soil conditions were in a productive and stable state.

Sustainable livestock production was therefore only possible with scientifically sound veld and livestock management.

A management system that neither increased production cost nor negatively affected production, as well as the environment, should be developed to optimise animal productivity and obviously profitability.

Rendering Called 'Sustainable, Essential Link' In Food/Feed Chain
Tim Lundeen, Feedstuffs | February 12, 2018
Ashley McDonald, senior director of sustainability for the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn., provided information on the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, including its mission, which is to advance, support and communicate continuous improvement in the sustainability of U.S. beef production by educating and engaging the beef value chain through a collaborative, multi–stakeholder effort.

One of the round table's main goals is to bring everyone together to share information and insights. The group's high priority indicators for measurement include animal health and well–being, efficiency and yield, water and land resources, air and greenhouse gas emissions and employee safety and well–being.

Leaders from Mars to McDonald's Give Voice to the Power of Partnerships  
RP Siegel, Green Biz | February 16, 2018
In many ways, the sustainability movement exists today in response to the lack of collaboration in the past, especially on the part of businesses. Blindly following the credo (often attributed to Milton Friedman) that "the business of business is business" did immeasurable damage to whatever lay outside a company's immediate scope of concern.

This gave rise to the multiplicity of NGOs who stood up to defend and give voice to those under–represented elements, be they environmental, social or other. These have suffered as a result of what Kevin Rabinovitch, global VP of sustainability at Mars, referred to at GreenBiz 18 last week as "failures of collective governance."

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While the headline is on the sensational side, this is an interesting article on changing dynamics in feedlot management over time, and the need for understanding chronic oxidative stress.
Join the Club, Buddy; Research Shows Feedlot Cattle Stressed Out, Running On Empty, Too  
Wes Ishmael, Beef Magazine | February 8, 2018
VeriPrime Research collaborated with Colorado State University (CSU) to conduct a mobility assessment of cattle going to slaughter that had been treated with the chelated trace mineral formulation. The CSU group scored the mobility of cattle at the feedlot, just before shipping to the packinghouse, and upon arrival at the packinghouse.

Researchers scored mobility using the mobility scoring system for finished cattle adapted by the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) for approximately 1,600 head of cattle at the two identified time points. In this scoring system, 1 equals normal mobility and 4 means cattle are extremely reluctant to move.

"Prior to shipping, 98.7% of the cattle were normal and walking easily [category 1], and no category 3s or 4s were identified," says Lily Edwards–Callaway, a CSU assistant professor.

For broader perspective, Edwards–Callaway and fellow researchers recently published Mobility Scoring of Finished Cattle. In it they describe the Elanco Animal Health Full Value Beef Cattle Mobility Assessment Program (BCMAP), which uses the aforementioned NAMI scoring system.

Despite Naysayers, Some Follow Savory Path to Holistic Farming  
Jenn Sharp, Saskatoon Star Phoenix | February 12, 2018
Savory has long promoted the principle of sustainability, going back to his early days as a game ranger, farmer and biologist. Today, he is an international consultant, touting his holistic management concept around the globe through the Savory Institute, which follows Savory's deep–rooted mission: to restore the land to health using livestock as the primary tool. "Today, most farmers are facing real severe problems while corporate agriculture and stock markets thrive artificially," Savory said.

For years, people have been told it was livestock, coal and oil that were the culprits of climate change, he said.

However, he added, "We were once just as certain that the world was flat. We were wrong then, and we are wrong again."

The Three Things to Address to Achieve Beef Success  
Farmers Guardian | February 9, 2018
For McDonald's, beef is an iconic product, and Peter Garbutt, agriculture manager for McDonald's says customers care where the product comes from, how it was farmed and who produced it.

He says: "By working with farmers to find out what sustainability means to their businesses, it not only helps them improve on areas they need to work on, but it also means we have a message about the work beef farmers are undertaking, which we can then communicate to our customers."

As part of this message, McDonald's aims to source a portion of its beef cattle by 2020 to principles recognised by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. Mr Garbutt says McDonald's is keen to help its farmers in the UK and Ireland achieve this goal, and to do so it is working with organisations such as the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform to find solutions to sustainability challenges in the beef supply chain. This follows initiatives including the McDonald's sustainable beef clubs, where carbon footprinting and discussion groups were used over six years to help farms reduce their emissions, improve animal health and invest to increase productivity.

Rabobank Advises Beef Industry to Get Online
Susan Kelly, meatingplace | February 9, 2018
To stem any further decline in consumption, the beef industry must embrace the switch to online shopping that is shaking up the grocery business, Rabobank said in a new research report. Calling it the biggest transition to occur in grocery shopping since the introduction of the supermarket in the 1930s, Rabobank said the online market offers a consumer pool larger than any conventional store or chain. It also provides opportunities to boost beef sales, particularly via meal kits.

Cargill Invests in Cow Facial Recognition Technology  
Sara Brown, Drovers | February 9, 2018
"It's important for us to invest in emerging digital technologies that drive value for our customers and for the industry," said Scott Ainslie, vice president and group director, Cargill Animal Nutrition. Cargill has taken a minority stake in Cainthus, an Irish startup that uses facial recognition software to increase the productivity of dairy and beef cows.

Co–Founder David Hunt, says Cainthus uses machine–learning and imaging technologies to identify cows and glean animal information, such as behavior and feed consumption, says a recent Bloomberg article. The technology uses digital cameras for the software and monitors activity without wearable devices.

"We are enthused about what this partnership will mean for farmers across the world," said David Hunt, president and co–founder, Cainthus. "Cargill is a natural partner for us, given their focus on bringing a world–class digital capability to the market and their understanding of how technology will truly help farmers succeed. We think this partnership will be a game changer for farmers because it will allow them to efficiently scale their business."

If the figures in this article are correct, New Zealanders are changing their dietary preferences quite rapidly, but read Sam McIvor of Beef and Lamb New Zealand's note here here for a closer insight.
Government Warning: Farmers Ignore Concerns About Meat at Their Peril
Madison Reidy, Food & Wine | February 11, 2018
Besieged by celebrity vegetarians, our agriculture industry is taking up the challenge of finding alternatives to old–style farmed meat. Deep in the Rangitikei, Richard Morrison and his livestock seem safely tucked away from threats. But he, like all meat farmers, is being confronted by a laboratory–grown blight that he cannot fence out.

Bullish new companies are putting meat mimic products on supermarket shelves, challenging one of New Zealand's most valuable export industries and forcing farmers to rethink their future. The options are popularising a consumer movement away from slaughtered food, causing demand for beef and lamb to drop.

Owners of 150–year–old family farms like Morrison's are shaking in their gumboots, hoping the world's red–meat cravings will continue. Watch 1:51 Video HERE.

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When Vegan Activists Become Socially Unacceptable or Intimidating  
Colin Bettles, Farmonline National | February 22, 2018
To respond or not to respond and if so, how hard do you return fire?

That's the metaphysical question confronting agricultural representative groups, not just in Australia but throughout the globe, when challenged by animal rights activists or other ideologically motivated fundamentalist movements that make a living out of morally harassing farmers.

Asked about a recent direct–action protest staged by about 40 chanting, placard waving vegan activists at a steakhouse restaurant in Melbourne's CBD, National Farmers' Federation CEO Tony Mahar was ambivalent, but realistic, about the challenging task.

"I respect people's rights to have their views but when it becomes socially unacceptable and intimidating and things like that, and it starts impacting on a constituent or a consumer or a member of the public's own views, I'd start questioning it then," he said.

We don't know that much about how sustainable lab grown meat is yet, because the commercial product will not be the same as existing trials. It's an industrial product though, so it's footprint may not be as low as is being touted. Given investments by protein companies, it's not a question of if, but when it is a commercial reality – and only then can it be judged on both its eating quality and its environmental impact. Of course, plant based fake "meat" is already here. One thing is for sure, neither lab grown, nor plant–based products can ever replace the need we have for grazing ruminants in our grassland environment. Divorcing food production from the ecosystem may be possible but is not a panacea for our natural resource constraints.
Lab–Grown Meat Is Coming, Whether You Like It or Not
Matt Simon, Wired Science | February 16, 2018
Scientists have been culturing meat in labs for years, but Just and other startups like Finless Foods, which is growing fish meat, have been feverishly pursuing this so–called "clean meat" of late. Just is chasing a cultured chorizo and a cultured nugget in addition to the foie gras. And Tetrick claims his startup has finally made the process cost–effective enough to take to market: At the end of this year, he says, Just will officially introduce an as yet undisclosed lab–grown meat, the first time the stuff will hit shelves.

The challenges of engineering meat in the lab is one thing, but convincing consumers to turn away from the storied kill–it–and–grill–it method of eating is another. And while it's easy to imagine how lab–grown meat would be better for the planet, there's actually little data to back that up.

The Beef Industry Has Fired Its First Shot in the Fight Against Cell–Cultured Meat  
Chase Purdy, Quartz Media | February 12, 2018
A major sector of the American meat industry is finally taking aim at cell–cultured meat, sparking what promises to be a spirited debate over the future of high–tech meat and how people will buy it.

The US Cattlemen's Association (USCA) has filed a 15–page petition(pdf) with the US Department of Agriculture, asking it to differentiate conventional meat from the cell cultured—known in the industry as "clean meat"—by creating a formal definition. As laid out in the petition, the cattlemen say they envision a definition for "beef" that reads something like this:

[The government] should require that any product labeled as "beef" come from cattle that have been born, raised, and harvested in the traditional manner, rather than coming from alternative sources such as a synthetic product from plant, insects, or other non–animal components and any product grown in labs from animal cells.

New Indobeef Program Aims to Lift Indonesian Smallholder Capability
Beef Central | February 12, 2018
A new $11.7m joint Australian–Indonesian program called IndoBeef aims to improve the capability of Indonesia's smallholder–based beef industry, while lifting demand for Australian grower cattle.

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