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


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Executive Director's Message

You will have seen the announcement of the release of our antimicrobial stewardship statement last week via social media and through our member communications. To date I have received positive comments and a few questions, so I included some relevant articles on antimicrobial stewardship and antimicrobial resistance to give a flavour of what is circulating in the media.

It's quite clear that use of antimicrobials in livestock is regularly blamed for increasing levels of resistant bacteria and for a rise in infections with such resistant bacteria in the human population. Given that use of antimicrobials selects for resistance, we should not be surprised that the problem increases as antimicrobials are used more widely. Due to the fact that there are and have been no new antimicrobials over the last decades, we can also see why resistance is becoming an increasing risk to human and animal health.

One of the questions I was asked was whether use in cattle can really contribute to resistant bacterial infections in humans. This is a logical question – after all, if use in cattle created resistant bacteria, but only amongst cattle, that would be an issue for the producer in terms of animal health, well–being and economics, but not a threat to humans. However, we do know that when resistance to a class of antimicrobials develops in bacteria, those resistance genes can spread not only in that strain of bacteria, but also to other strains in the environment, and if the same drug is then used for humans, that resistance can render those drugs less or ineffective.

There are, of course, also scenarios in which humans can be infected directly with resistant bacteria from livestock, although that is more of an issue for monogastrics than for ruminants. This is why the WHO list of antimicrobials of critical importance to human health is relevant even to livestock producers – clearly we want to be able to continue to use antimicrobials effectively in livestock, without causing any risks to human health.

Fortunately for cattle producers, there are not a large number of drugs that are central to cattle health that are of critical importance to human health. Macrolides, however, are definitely an example of a class of drug that are critical to both human and animal health, and we can expect a lot of discussion and likely increased legislation on their use in livestock in the future. This makes research into prevention and treatment of shipping fever (BRD) a major priority, as macrolides are the drug of choice at the moment.

Finally, I would like to congratulate our members in approving and releasing our antimicrobial statement – it represents a step forward, and a useful part of a stewardship framework for countries where there is still little control of the use of antimicrobials, as well as being a positive signal of the value we share with consumers.

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director

GRSB Issues Statement on Antimicrobial Stewardship
Tri–State Livestock News | August 10, 2018
The membership of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has voted overwhelmingly to approve a global Statement on Antimicrobial Stewardship to recognize the urgency with which action against the development of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) needs to be taken.

GRSB President Nicole Johnson–Hoffman, of OSI Group, LLC said "Antimicrobial resistance is a major global threat to human and animal health. This statement reflects what GRSB members believe should be done by the beef value chain to manage antimicrobials responsibly. This guidance is especially important for places in the world that lack structures to support responsible antibiotic use. Just 89 countries report having a system in place to collect data on the use of antimicrobial agents in animals (OIE, 2015) and roughly 40 percent of countries report they have yet to develop national action plans; it is clear to our membership that action needs to be taken."

The GRSB Antimicrobial statement is in alignment with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidance and equivalents adopted in other countries for antimicrobial use in cattle.

New Iowa State AMR Center to Focus on One Health Research  
Chris Dall, CIDRAP | Aug 10, 2018
A new research center, based in America's proverbial heartland, is aiming to take on some of the big questions about antibiotic use in animal agriculture, the role that it plays in antimicrobial resistance (AMR), and how to improve health for people, animals, and the environment.

The Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education, based at Iowa State University, stems from the recommendations of a 2015 report by a joint task force from the Association of Public Land Grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), which called for the creation of a national institute that could coordinate and implement AMR research and education initiatives. Iowa State was chosen from eight land–grant universities to lead the institute, and will partner with the US Department of Agriculture, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the University of Iowa, and the Mayo Clinic.

Global Report Finds Progress, Gaps in Antimicrobial Resistance Fight
John Maday, Drovers Magazine | July 19, 2018
Given today's potential for pathogens to quickly spread across borders, curbing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) must be an international effort. A new report, released July 18 from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO), shows progress, but also reveals gaps and inconsistencies in how individual countries address the issue.

Among the top–ten chicken–, pork– and cattle–producing countries that responded to the survey, nine have at minimum developed a national action plan; the majority of these have plans in operation with a monitoring arrangement.

New Initiative to Promote Responsible Antibiotic Use on Farms  
Arlo Guthrie, VetSurgeon News | July 18, 2018
The National Office of Animal Health (NOAH)has launched the Animal Medicines Best Practice (AMBP) Programme to support the responsible use of antibiotics across UK farms.

The programme gives farmers and veterinary surgeons access to new resources, enabling a coordinated and consistent approach to farmer training in the responsible use of antibiotics. The development of the AMBP Programme has been led by NOAH in partnership with a group of stakeholders from across the industry including farmers, vets, the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance (RUMA), the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD), the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and leading academics, to create a training programme for all those working in the sheep, dairy, beef and pig sectors.

Rabobank Reports Survey Results from China That Indicate Sustainability Attributes Are Set to Play Increasing Role in Chinese Food Choices
Interest.co.nz | August 2, 2018
New Zealand's horticultural sector will need to keep a close eye on the role sustainability attributes play in the purchasing decisions of Chinese consumers if it is to maximise returns from the rapidly–growing Chinese fruit and vegetable market, according to Rabobank's senior horticultural analyst Hayden Higgins.

Speaking at the Horticulture New Zealand Conference in Christchurch last week, Mr Higgins said, while food safety, quality and nutrition credentials were currently the most significant factors influencing Chinese consumers' food purchasing decisions, awareness of other product characteristics, including sustainability attributes, such as water usage and emissions, was growing.v

Roofs and Biogas Prove Game Changers at Saleyards  
Shan Goodwin, Queensland Country Life | August 2, 2018
Roofs over saleyards have been a big game changer in terms of effluent management but still there are significant efficiencies to be gained.

Biogas is one area where experts in this field see untapped potential. Senior engineer with facility designers Wiley, Heath Barker, says any saleyard manager not processing wastewater and getting all the available benefits from it, is losing out.

Mr Barker spoke at the recent National Saleyards Expo in Casino on the latest trends in effluent management and why it counts when it comes to running a profitable and sustainable livestock marketing facility.

Big investments have been made around the country in recent years constructing saleyard roofs and that has delivered large areas unaffected by rainwater which means facilities can then look at management and animal welfare improvements like soft flooring.

Producers Can Now Take Beef Sustainability to the Bank  
Alexis Kienlen, Alberta Express | July 31, 2018
Four years after McDonald's chose Canada to launch its landmark sustainable beef initiative, some producers and feedlots are happily cashing cheques for participating in that effort. And while the amounts so far have been fairly small, it's a big plus for producers, say participants.

"We started on that journey because we thought it was important for the industry and it was going to meet what the consumers were asking for," said Shannon Argent, a producer from Cremona who is participating in the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration pilot.

"It just morphed into what the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef wanted and what some of the retailers are looking for, and we're just happy to be part of it."

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Food Supply Chains Very Exposed to Brexit Risks – Bord Bia  
Odile Evans, Irish Farmers Journal | August 7, 2018
Increased lead times, especially for short shelf life products, in conjunction with a complex and intense supply chain has been highlighted as the key problem for Irish food and drink companies post–Brexit. In its latest report, Bord Bia has outlined what different logistics service providers are doing in preparation for Brexit.

Research suggests that companies are hiring more people with customs experience, reviewing shipping lines to avoid the UK landbridge, expanding the use of unaccompanied trailers on shipping legs, increasing the number of warehouses at ports and introducing double deck trailers to increase capacity in efforts to maintain smooth and efficient transport.

Cargill's 2018 Annual Report Highlights Commitment to Vibrant Food, Agriculture  
The Cattle Site | August 8, 2018
Following one of Cargill's best financial performances, the company launched its 2018 annual report yesterday (7 August). The report outlines a year of activating tomorrow's solutions to nourish the world.

"Cargill operates today with greater agility and stronger integration to serve our customers' rapidly changing needs," writes Chairman and CEO David MacLennan and CFO Marcel Smits in the report. "In the midst of significant uncertainty in the world, we are strengthening the connections that enable progress."

The report integrates Cargill's financial and corporate responsibility performance, highlighting actions that are positioning the company, its customers and other partners for long–term success.

Marfrig Partners with Embrapa to Reduce Cattle Emissions  
Ashley Williams, Global Meat News | August 3, 2018
Brazilian meat processor Marfrig Global Foods has forged a partnership with The Brazilian Agricultural Research Company (Embrapa) to reduce methane gas emitted by cattle.

The deal will see the businesses create two production concepts – Carbon Neutral Beef and Low Carbon Brazilian Beef – which will allow them to certify beef using a system that neutralises carbon emissions from the processor's animals.

Carbon Neutral Beef is produced using integrated systems combined with planted trees, which are responsible for sequestering carbon and neutralising the methane emissions from grass–fed animals.

B+LNZ Reports Steady Growth In Cattle
Ashley Williams, Global Meat News | August 3, 2018
New Zealand beef producers retaining younger cattle are among the factors helping the steady rise in cow herds, according to Beef and Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ).

B+LNZ's annual stock number survey from its economic service revealed New Zealand's beef cattle herd has increased by 1.9% to 3.7m head over the past year.

WWF Event "Bends the Curve" on Forest Loss
Adam Fishman, IISD Reporting Services | July 31, 2018
An event titled, '30×30 Forests, Food, and Land Challenge: Bending the curve on forest loss,' convened on the margins of the High–level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) to discuss the intersection of land use, food systems and climate change. Organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and hosted at the World Economic Forum (WEF), the event highlighted actions that companies are taking to increase sustainability and halt deforestation in their supply chains.

Kavita Prakash–Mani, WWF, opened the event by highlighting the scale of the issue, noting that the world lost 40 soccer fields of forests every minute in 2017. She recognized progress, such as a moratorium in the Amazon, but emphasized that some forms of forest loss are accelerating due to natural feedback loops, such as increasing forest fires due to climate change.

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Shift to Grass–Fed Requires Larger Cattle Herd. Cowboys: Duh!  
Greg Henderson, Drovers Magazine | August 10, 2018
"This study adds to a body of research suggesting that animal agriculture is destroying our planet," Lauren Wills writes. "Animal agriculture is responsible for a minimum of 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – more than the combined exhaust from all global transportation."

Sigh… Here, Lauren, is what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. In the U.S., transportation contributes 26% to GHG emissions, power production and use 31%, and all of livestock 4%. Cows are not the environmental boogeyman.

How Vegans Got It Wrong On Cattle & Climate Change
Amanda Radke, Beef Magazine | Aug 10, 2018
"It's really interesting to me that the conversation around vegetarianism & the environment is so strongly centered on an assumption that every place in the world is on the limited land/surplus plan. You know what region that describes really well? Northwestern Europe. "In many ways, viewing low/no–meat diets as the One True Sustainable Way is very much a vestige of colonialism. It found a farmway that works really well in Europe, assumed it must be universal, and tries to apply it to places where it absolutely does not pencil out."

Japanese Beef Industry Celebrates Australian Trade Breakthrough
Jon Condon, BEEF Centeral | August 17, 2018
Japanese–produced beef will feature prominently in a Sydney premium foods trade show later this month, convened by the country's trade–advancement organisation, JETRO. The commencement of Japanese beef trade into Australia has attracted considerable attention in Japan, including ceremonies at airports, and wide exposure in trade and metropolitan media.

Will We Eventually Get Lifetime Animal ID And Traceability? Probably So
Burt Rutherford, Beef Magazine | Aug 01, 2018
"Lifetime cattle ID and traceability, she's a'comin'. Really? Yep, really. Or at the very least, highly likely.

So what do our readers think about all this? We did a survey last year to get a handle on that question, then tacked several questions on the end of our annual State of the Industry survey we do each spring. This year, when asked, "Are you in favor of a national animal identification and traceability system that could track the location of individual animals throughout their lives?," 61% of all respondents said yes while 39% said no. For comparison, 58% said yes and 42% said no in our 2017 traceability survey.

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