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


Executive Director's Message

This week I would like to share another set of articles with you in the first section, followed by stories involving GRSB members.

This first selection was shared on a livestock group that I am a member of and includes several articles originally from the ILRI blog that examine the importance of livestock in agricultural systems, food production and livelihoods for many of the poorest people in the world.

While we have long recognised the challenges that face the livestock sector, these seem to be amplified in the echo chamber of modern media, while many very significant contributions livestock make to livelihoods and food production systems are either ignored or deliberately minimised. This is a mistake for a number of reasons.

Firstly, withdrawal of investment in livestock does not make livestock systems more sustainable – in fact if anything it makes them less so; and since it does not decrease overall demand, we are more likely to see a proliferation of less sustainable systems develop as a result.

Secondly, removing livestock from agricultural systems actually makes all food production less sustainable. While the balance may not always be right now in terms of sustainability, it is clear that it can only get worse if more marginal lands are opened up for cropping rather than kept as rangeland, and if animal manures are not available in cropping systems.

Thank you.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

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Simplistic Anti–Meat Mantra Hurts Third World  
Andrew Marshall, FarmOnline National | April 17, 2018
The developing world has much to learn from rich western economies, but eating less meat is not one of those lessons.

Kenyan–based livestock research chief, Dr Jimmy Smith, says producing more meat and making it more available to international markets will be critical to helping the economic and nutritional health of developing countries and their small scale farmers.

While some in developed societies keenly promoted meat–reduced or meat–free lifestyles, he said it was unfair to impose such broad–brush views on countries where diets already lacked enough animal–sourced nutrition.

Avoiding Meat And Dairy: A One–Size–Fits–All Measure to Deal With Our Planet's Environmental Problems or a Real Option for The 1.3 Billion People Depending on Livestock to Assure Their Livelihood and Food Security?
VSF International | June 12, 2018
Once again, the debate on sustainable diets and in particular on (not) eating animal–derived products is resurfacing in the media, as illustrated most recently by an article in The Guardian.

The paper reported on a study by J. Poore and T. Nemecek entitled 'Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers', published in the latest edition of Science magazine. The article concludes that 'avoiding meat and dairy products is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet'.

Both the study and the article recognize the 'large variability in environmental impact from different farms' and the need to deal with the most harmful ones. Still, they seem to overlook the evidence from the 1.3 billion smallholder farmers and livestock keepers for whom livestock is an important source of income and food security (Herrero et al, 2009).

Is Promoting Vegetarianism a Form of Colonialism?  
Zoë Schlanger, Quartz | June 23, 2018
The debate over whether a vegetarian diet is better for the planet is top of mind for many as news of water scarcity, climate change, and deforestation seem to worsen by the day. Sarah Taber, a US–based agricultural scientist who works as a consultant for aquaculture and greenhouse food safety, added another angle to the debate earlier this month.

Taber argues that the assumption that vegetarianism is always more sustainable comes from a Euro–centric perspective, where limited land and surplus water makes it relatively easy to grow food crops and less sensical to dedicate vast tracts of land to graze cows.

In other parts of the world, however, the opposite is true. For example, as Taber calculates it, in the Chihuahua desert of Western Texas and Northern Mexico, "it would takes a thousand times more water to grow an acre of crops for human consumption, than it takes to grow an acre of cow on wild range."

The Vegan Craze: What Does It Mean For Pastoralists?
Ian Scoones, Steps Centre | June 22, 2018
There's a vegan craze in full swing in Brighton in the UK – and it seems more broadly. There was a vegan festival near my house the other weekend, and vegan graffiti (in washable chalk, I hasten to add) appears frequently in our local park. My daughter became a vegan for a period a year or so ago after a school trip to a local farm.

I have nothing against veganism, and I see its potential health, welfare and environmental benefits, certainly for consumers in northern Europe. But what would a mass shift from livestock products mean for poor pastoralists living in marginal areas?

In the Guardian, George Monbiot announced rather dramatically that 'farming livestock for food threatens all life on earth', while the Independent argued that not consuming meat and dairy could 'reduce your carbon footprint by nearly three–quarters'. Damian Carrington, the Guardian's environment editor, quoted the authors as saying that avoiding meat and dairy is the 'single biggest' way to reduce the impact on the earth. Newsweek was more direct, with the headline: 'Want to save the planet? Go vegan, says study.'

In Pursuit of Low–Emissions Cows–ILRI's Jimmy Smith and John Goopy on Transforming 'Idling' Cows To Climate–Smart Animals 'Zooming Down the Highway'  
Susan Macmillan, ILRI Clippings | October 18, 2018
Researchers are on the hunt for a cow that produces less methane, one of the major contributors to climate change. If and when those green genes can be easily isolated, they could be spread throughout global cattle populations.

'The livestock sector accounts for an estimated 14.5 percent of human–related greenhouse gas emissions globally, with about 44 percent of those emissions in the form of methane, according to the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization. Methane is a byproduct of livestock digestion and manure emissions, among other sources. Cattle account for the majority of the sector's contributions, adding to about 65 percent of emissions.

'While methane has a shorter lifetime in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, it is more effective at trapping radiation. This makes its impact over a 100–year period more than 25 times greater than carbon dioxide, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A Key Component to Ending Poverty and Hunger In Developing Countries? Livestock
Steve Staal, Los Angeles Times | July 13, 2018v
The recent emergence of famine in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen that has left more than 20 million people on the brink of starvation is a reminder of the difficulty of ending hunger around the world.

The problem is complex, and, unfortunately, policymakers have largely ignored an economic sector that could be a key part of the solution: small–scale livestock farming. But that may be starting to change. At a high–level United Nations meeting currently underway, several events on poverty and hunger will feature the importance of livestock.

The key message of these sessions is that livestock's potential for bolstering development lies in the sheer number of rural people who already depend on the sector for their livelihoods. These subsistence farmers also supply the bulk of livestock products in low–income countries.

Livestock Belongs on the Table–If We Eat Meat or Not
Berhe Tekola, Bangkok Post | June 25, 2018
In a world where competition for resources is increasingly fierce, sustainability is often seen in terms of reducing over–consumption. This is especially true when it comes to animal production, with some calling for a worldwide switch to entirely plant–based diets to reduce pressure on the environment.

But the truth is sustainability is not so straightforward. Those offering such a simple solution for global food security miss at least two important points. First, we do not compete with livestock for resources as much as we think.

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JBS Couros Seeks CSCB Sustainability Certification in All Its Units
Leather International | June 26, 2018
"JBS reinforces its partnership with the CSCB and recognises that it's an important step for having a national identity with respect to sustainability. To start, the Marabá unit will be the first one certified from JBS Couros. JBS' commitment is to have all its operations certified.

"This is an important recognition of the relevance that both the CICB and the CSCB have for the Brazilian national industry.

"JBS believes that CSCB certification is a positive action not only in helping the company to continually improve its processes, but also for creating parameters of improvement for the sector as a whole, aligned with market trends.

This Week in Photos: BEEF 2018 and Wholecrop Harvest
Irish Farmers Journal | July 1, 2018 (Login Required)
See top photos from the week include baling at Airfield Estate and pictures from BEEF 2018 at Teagasc Grange HERE.

New Zealand Primary Sector Nervous Over Prospect of World Trade Wars  
Jamie Gray, New Zealand Herald | June 24, 2018
Beef and Lamb New Zealand international trade manager Esther Guy–Meakin said the spectre of trade protectionism was a worry but it did not yet present a threat to the meat trade – New Zealand's second biggest export after dairy.

"Obviously it is pretty concerning," Guy–Meakin said. "We are worried about the rhetoric internationally and the change in sentiment towards a more anti–free trade stance."

"The red meat sector is a significant export sector and the prosperity of that relies on certainty and stability around access on international markets," she said.
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Future Bright for Genetic Progress in Beef Industry
Feedstuffs | Jun 22, 2018
At the recent 2018 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) annual conference, beef industry leaders got a glimpse of the future of genetic improvement in cattle and more opportunities on the horizon, according to an announcement from Neogen.

The company held its Neogen International Genomics Symposium at the BIF conference, where several speakers outlined emerging technologies that will speed beef improvement.

I had to put this in just for the headline!
Food Fight Over 'Traitorous, Manipulated Mung Beans' in Meat Fridge  
Anna Henderson, ABC News AU | June 22, 2018
Michelle Landry, who paints herself as a "committed carnivore", holds the marginal Queensland seat of Capricornia.

The electorate includes Rockhampton – which celebrates its links with the cattle industry through six giant bull statues, and hosts the national beef expo.

The Nationals chief whip questioned Woolworths's decision to stock a 100 per cent "plant–based" product in the meat section of the supermarket, labelled as "minced".

"When red–blooded Australians peruse the aisle for red meat to feed their hunger, they are looking for good, wholesome, natural, Australian beef – not a pile of manipulated mung beans with a fancy name and a lab coat," Ms Landry said.

"If people are genuine vegans, they will hardly be looking for products in the red meat section anyway."

As FMD is endemic in wildlife in Northern Botswana and neighbouring countries, the challenge of keeping the herd FMD free without vaccination is an overwhelming concern, particularly where beef exports are concerned.
Botswana: FMD Cripples Ngamiland Beef Industry
AllAfrica.com | June 28, 2018
The outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Naune crush, Sehithwa extension in Ngamiland district last week has crippled the beef industry in the North West region. The outbreak comes after the district has been recovering from another outbreak which happened the same area in 2017.

The FMD outbreak has negatively affected farmers, butcheries and abbaitors/ slaughter slabs in Ngamiland region, leading to shortage of beef. FMD has been recurring in Ngamiland for many years, however, during such outbreaks there is always a blame game between farmers and government officials, specifically the Department of Veterinary Services.

The DVS blames outbreaks on farmers, accusing them of failing to vaccinate their cattle. However, farmers on the other hand blame DVS for failing to maintain cordon fences which separate cattle pastures from wild animals, specifically buffaloes which are known carriers of the disease.

Minister Stresses Need For Sustainable Livestock Growth
Business Recorder | June 22, 2018
Punjab Caretaker Minister for Livestock, Labour, Human Resource and Transport Mian Nauman Kabir has said that short–term but concrete measures are being taken to surmount the major issues to ensure sustainable growth of livestock, human resource and transport sectors.

While speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, he asked the private sector to shift its focus towards livestock sector and human resource development. He said that little attention towards public–private partnership could yield miraculous results. He said that appetite for Pakistani meat is strong both in domestic and export markets.

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