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


Register Now
for the Global Conference on
Sustainable Beef 
Join us at the Lyrath Estate Hotel, Kilkenny, Ireland
between 9th and 12th October

Executive Director's Message

I am writing this on the way home from Japan – a very interesting trip in which I was part of a panel discussion on animal wellbeing at the Bayer International Cattle Symposium. Animal well–being is part of sustainability and the discussion we had centred around the fact that cattle producers do care very deeply about the animals in their care and most will do everything they can to ensure the well–being of their cattle.

Unfortunately over time, as the public becomes more distanced from farming, it has become less easy for them to understand what actually happens on farms and ranches or to understand the needs of both livestock and the people who care for them.

There are, of course, examples of where things have gone badly wrong and frequently these are not even on farm – think of the live export issues that Australia has faced over the last several years. These make it easier for activists to point to animal agriculture and highlight those failures as symptomatic of the whole industry, although they clearly are not.

We also discussed the issue of culture, and how our appreciation of what constitutes animal well–being evolves over time. When I first started working with cattle, anesthesia and pain mitigation for routine operations such as dehorning and castration were unheard of; today there is a body of evidence to show that these are cost effective measures as they significantly decrease the negative performance impacts of such procedures.

There are many other examples of how our attitudes to cattle handling have changed over the past 30 years, including the increasing popularity of low stress handling, which again pays dividends in terms of docile higher–performing cattle with decreased risks to stockmen.

There is a role for all in the value chain when it comes to animal well–being. Cattlemen look after the stock for most of their lives and sharing of experiences with innovative approaches around the world can certainly lead to the sort of evolution over time that I have seen.

Welfare around transport and slaughter is also critically important, and beyond that, the whole industry should be communicating openly and honestly with consumers about the way cattle are handled to demonstrate that we all share the values that make good animal well–being not only a good business decision, but an ethical one too.

At the same symposium, we also heard about important research into antimicrobial stewardship for the avoidance of resistance. I had the opportunity to discuss avoidance of resistance to other drug categories such as anthelmintics, where again good stewardship and grazing management can make a huge difference in the volumes of drugs required and their long term effectiveness.

Bayer Furthers Cattle Health and Well–being Through Science and Practical Approaches
The Dairy Site | August 29, 2018
Bayer reinforces its commitment to enhancing cattle health and management by supporting cattle professionals around the world with scientific education and technological advancements.

At the recent 30th World Buiatrics Congress in Sapporo, which brought together over 2,000 global cattle experts, Bayer launched new tools to help advance cattle well–being in practice–oriented ways.

Inviting experts to discuss key topics fundamental to cattle health and well–being, the International Bayer Cattle Symposium took place alongside the Congress. Topics covered included optimising treatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD), bovine coccidiosis management, metabolic health in transition cows and calf nutrition. The program also included a roundtable discussion to establish how cattle well–being can be further advanced with a collaborative approach between stakeholders.

The roundtable discussion drew on the importance of a collaborative approach between stakeholders as essential to further advancing cattle well–being. Panelists were Ruaraidh Petre, Executive Director of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef; Mark Bryan, Consultant Veterinarian at VetSouth, New Zealand; and Rinse Boersma, Head of Dairy Marketing at Animal Health, Bayer, who put forward perspectives from stakeholders across the cattle value chain.

Boersma, who also facilitated the discussion, said: "Support and collaboration among all stakeholders is essential in the journey to further advance cattle well–being, and we take our role in this very seriously. Here at Bayer, we understand that cattle professionals are deeply committed to the well–being of their animals, and we look to support them in this, through continued research, scientific education and technological advancements."

See the full program of the 2018 World Buiatrics Congress in Sapporo

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
  See All Members  
    Welcome to the Table...
SATOTO Consulting
Dateline: September 2018 | Constituency: Individual Consulting
Alexander Toto graduated as a veterinarian in 1995 and provides independent technical skilled and professional services to animal agriculture, mostly within Southern Africa, but he has also worked in West and East Africa and Middle Asia.

His main areas of focus include advising on animal agribusiness development, sanitary issues relating to trade, food chain traceability, development of animal health and traceability information systems, and beef quality assurance schemes; university lecturing in animal health and sustainable animal production systems, and supporting public veterinary services.

Toto is currently facilitating the establishment of the Namibia Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and hopes to support related activities with Southern Africa.

We have always said that sustainability has to be about profits as well as planet, people and animals. When you look at companies that have embraced sustainability, you find that they have done so in the same same holistic way that we use to define sustainability. If sustainability becomes non–negotiable, then it goes without saying that it is also profitable for those companies.
Achieving Your Sustainability Goals Does Not Mean Sacrificing Profits  
By Kevin Piccione, What's New in Food | August 16, 2018
Nearly 90% of business leaders believe that sustainability is essential to remaining competitive and despite the clear link between sustainability and profit, only 2% of companies either achieve or exceed their sustainability goals.

At this year's World Economic Forum in Switzerland, it was identified that the most sustainable companies are not just doing good for society, they're also thriving financially. In fact, since 2005, the most sustainable businesses have outperformed their peers by nearly a third.

But with a mere 2% achieving their targets, what is it they're doing that fuels their success? Sustainable businesses succeed because sustainability is a non–negotiable business priority that aligns with their company goals. An unwavering commitment to company goals means it's unlikely that sustainability initiatives come undone.

Conversely, failing to align sustainability and business objectives is a common reason sustainability programs fall off the radar and companies miss their sustainability targets. In fact, only 25% of business leaders indicate that their companies have developed a clear business case for sustainability.

To follow up on the above; given that sustainability must also be profitable, we should not be too surprised that agriculture is moving in that direction. We do recognise the obstacles – up front investment will be an issue for producers worldwide, but where financial institutions play a positive role in linking sustainability to lending, rapid progress can be made.
Farming Moving in 'Healthy Direction'
Innovators Magazine | August 28, 2018
A new report suggests a third of farms worldwide are adopting more environmentally friendly practices.

Research published in the journal, Nature, examined the application of what's termed 'sustainable intensification' – methods that use 'land, water, biodiversity, labour, knowledge and technology to both grow crops and reduce environmental impacts like pesticide pollution, soil erosion, and greenhouse gas emissions'.

The study states that around one–tenth of global farmland is under a level of sustainable intensification, and that it's producing 'dramatic results'. One example given is from Cuba, where 100,000 farmers have 'increased their productivity 150% while cutting their pesticide use by 85%'.

I want to preface the following article by saying I don't agree with what is contained in this "Flunking the Planet " report but I am quoting it because it is important that GRSB members are aware of this report as it will be widely quoted. It also raises the question of how we avoid such critical reports in the future. One suggestion from a GRSB member is that we consider using the national frameworks of roundtables that already exist or are being created to form the basis of commitments by members to sustainability goals. This merits discussion by our members.
U.S. Food Companies "Flunking the Planet," Report Claims  
Greg Henderson, AgWeb | August 2, 2108
Scathing new report blames major food companies for "massive water pollution, dead zones" and "climate change."

Mighty Earth, a non–governmental organization (NGO) has issued "Flunking the Planet: Scoring America's Food Companies on Sustainable Meat," a survey of 23 major brands representing the largest fast food, grocery and food service companies in the U.S. "This year's massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is being driven by major food companies who have no environmental standards for meat," according to Mighty Earth's statement about their survey.

That claim, however, seems contradicted by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who announced Tuesday that the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone is only about 40% its average size this year. NOAA said the dead zone, an area with low oxygen that can kill fish and marine life, is the fourth smallest since they started mapping the area in 1985.

Place Talks Sustainable Beef Production  
High Plains/Midwest Ag Journal | August 28, 2018
Sara Place, a senior director with the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, says producers not only need to think sustainably, they need to talk about it, too. Watch the 2:13 video HERE.

I really do not agree with the conclusion that livestock are incompatible with healthy ecosystems, or that their total removal would be in the best interests of the lands that this testimony refers to – though I don't have first hand knowledge of the areas he is talking about, so I cannot comment as to the extent of the problem. While different species graze or browse differently, the biggest difference, as always, is management. We know that regenerative management of grazing using domestic livestock can reverse many of the problems identified in this report. So the problem is not the livestock, but the way they are managed. Protection of river banks is standard in many parts of the world, and managing grazing to optimise ground cover, productivity and soil organic matter makes good economic and environmental sense. While this testimony attacks livestock, I would say it is simply evidence of the need for better and more sustainable livestock management.
The Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Western Public Lands
Testimoy of Erik Molvar, Federal Lands Subcommittee Hearing | July 9, 2018
The grazing of domestic livestock on federal grazing leases represents the most widespread cause of environmental impacts on western public lands. While oil and gas development garners the greatest amount of media attention, as it represents a spectacular environmental trainwreck, livestock grazing is like a slow and invisible cancer that is insidiously and inexorably killing native ecosystems over vast areas.

View More News

Other GRSB members were also very actively involved in the World Buiatrics Congress in Sapporo. Prevention is a key to avoiding drug resistance and therefore protecting both human and animal health in the future and maintaining the efficacy of today's treatments.
MSD Animal Health Introduces "The Science of Prevention" with a Record Number of Abstracts
The Cattle Site | August 29, 2018
MSD Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co, today announced a significant number of abstracts (16 oral and 8 poster presentations) to be presented to at the World Buiatrics Congress (WBC) in Sapporo, Japan from August 28 – September 1.

The research supports the company's holistic approach to prevention, "The Science of Prevention," with new data on methods to prevent a broad range of bovine diseases, such as mastitis, bovine respiratory disease, and neonatal diarrhea.

"In today's day and age, dairy and beef producers face increasing pressure to change the way they operate and proactively prevent disease, not just treat cattle suffering from disease," said Dr. Jantijn Swinkels, Global Technical Director, Ruminants, MSD Animal Health.

McDonald's and Partners Seek Beef Chain Visibility For Customers  
Nate Birt, AgWeb | August 23, 2018
Americans love beef but have limited visibility on the meat's journey from ranch to restaurant. An innovative two–year pilot program between McDonald's and stakeholders of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) aims to change that dynamic.

Key partners include Tyson Foods, Golden State Foods and Beef Marketing Group. Program participants will follow cattle from the time they are born to when they are processed. Along the way, McDonald's will evaluate how its beef production stacks up against USRSB's six high–priority indicators,such as animal health, water resources and greenhouse gas emissions. Watch 1:48 video HERE. (Plays after :15 advertisement.)

Brazil's Marfrig Focuses on Beef after Keystone Sale: CFO  
Tatiana Bautzer, Reuters | August 20, 2018
The sale of Keystone Foods LLC to Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN.N) for $2.4 billion concludes a major strategic change for Brazilian meatpacker Marfrig Global Foods SA (MRFG3.SA), which will focus exclusively on beef, its chief financial officer said on Sunday.

The Keystone deal, expected to be announced on Monday, will exclude a beef patty plant in Ohio with annual revenue of $300 million, CFO Eduardo Miron said in a phone interview with Reuters.

The Ohio plant, with annual capacity of 91,000 tons of beef patties, will add to the portfolio of National Beef Packing Company LLC, acquired by Marfrig earlier this year.

I note that the traceability extends back per lot of animals, presumably at the point of collection. One of the big challenges in Brazil from a traceability and sustainability perspective is tracing cattle back to the farm of origin.
JBS Couros Invests in Traceability and Presents New Platform at China Trade Fair
Business Insider | August 22, 2018
"We are the only leather company with complete control over the production chain and capable of monitoring all processes, from farms to the delivery of the final product being supplied to our customers. This guarantees complete transparency when communicating with our stakeholders and ensures our products comply with the most stringent social and environmental criteria on the market", said Fernando Bellese, JBS Couros Marketing and Sustainability manager.

Focusing on sustainability across its entire value chain, JBS Couros has developed a system that collects data throughout the leather production process, from sourcing at the farm all the way through to the end product. The platform, called JBS360°, will be presented to customers and attendees at the All China Leather Exhibition.

CCA Report: Some Good News in July  
David Haywood–Farmer, Canadian Cattlemen | August 20. 2018
July proved to be an active month on all fronts for the Canadian Cattlemen's Association (CCA). CCA leadership met with Agriculture and Agri–Food Minister Lawrence MacAulay in Calgary, Alta., during his Growing Canadian Agriculture Tour. The tour enabled the minister to meet with farmers and agribusinesses and hear their ideas on how to capture growth opportunities for the sector. CCA had the opportunity to outline the beef industry's role in growing Canada's agri–food exports and discuss key industry issues and priorities with the minister directly.

The CCA was also on hand for the minister's announcement of an investment of up to $14 million to the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC), under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, AgriScience Clusters. The BCRC, a division of the CCA, will contribute up to an additional $7.6 million, for a total investment of up to $21 million.

Then McDonald's Canada announced it will be the first company in Canada to serve Canadian beef from certified sustainable farms and ranches, using the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef's Certified Sustainable Framework.

Cargill Canadian Beef Sustainability Project Expanding  
Krissa Welshans, Feedstuffs | Aug 14, 2018
Cargill provided an update this week on its multi–stakeholder Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration (CBSA) pilot project, relaying that more than 1 million lb. of beef were produced from certified sustainable sources during the third quarter. Launched during fall 2017, the pilot project's volume nearly doubled from its first to third quarters, the company said.

View More News

GRSB should welcome the interest of these companies in animal welfare and bring them into our network so that we can harmonise work on animal health and well–being. As leaders in sustainability, we recognise the contribution that both Nestlé and Unilever can make to furthering the sustainable beef agenda.
Nestlé & Unilever Form New Coalition Committed to Animal Welfare Standards
Stephen Daniells, FOOD Navigator | August 9, 2018
Nestlé, Unilever, Ikea Food Services, and four other companies have joined together to form the Global Coalition for Animal Welfare (GCAW) to advance animal welfare standards throughout the global food supply chain. The companies will " collectively address current systemic barriers to change, share best practices as well as accelerate the development of standards and progress on key welfare issues".

Missouri Labeling Law Banning the Use of the Word 'Meat' to Label Products Other Than Those Produced by Animals Challenged
The Fence Point | August 28, 2018
A Missouri law banning the use of the word "meat" to label products other than those produced by animals is being challenged by the Good Food Institute, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Animal Legal Defense Fund and Tofurky.

The law was signed by former Gov. Eric Greitens, a Republican, and went into effect today. The Missouri Cattlemen's Association has said the law will protect the integrity of the product of the state's meat producers, but the coalition says it violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

"Missouri is putting its thumb on the scale to unfairly benefit the meat industry and silence alternative producers," Stephen Wells, Animal Legal Defense Fund's executive director, said in a Good Food Institute blog post.

"This law violates various constitutional principles, including free speech — which should be a concern for everyone, regardless of diet."

NCBA: USA Label Proposal 'Ridiculous'
Tri–State Livestock News | August 22, 2018
Colin Woodall, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association submitted comments on behalf of that group regarding USA beef labels. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had asked for comments on a proposal to require that only beef derived from cattle born, raised and processed in the United States be eligible for a USA label.

What The Experts Say About the International Meat Industry's Challenges?  
Ashley Williams, Global Meat News | August 21, 2018
We spoke to International Meat Trade Association's (IMTA) policy director Katie Doherty about how Brexit will define the meat industry and how politics plays a big role in agriculture. IMTA is a leading organisation in facilitating the meat trade for exports and imports, and has been recognised by the industry as providing the best information and analysis on Brexit.

This concerns an exporter of live sheep, but is another example of the severe consequences that failures in animal welfare beyond the farm gate can have for producers, who have not done anything wrong themselves. This emphasises the importance of whole chain collaboration as in our roundtable model.
Emanuel Exports: Live Sheep Export Licence Cancelled  
Queensland Country Life | August 22, 2018
The federal Department of Agriculture has cancelled the livestock export licence of Perth based company Emanuel Exports. A statement issued by the department says the decision was made in accordance with the requirements of the Australian Meat and Livestock Industry Act 1997. "(It) has taken action against this company in the best interests of the industry and for the protection of Australia's high standards of animal welfare and health," the statement reads.

View More News
Administrative Offices:
13570 Meadowgrass Drive, Suite 201
Colorado Springs, CO 80921 USA
Phone: 1-719-355-2935
Fax: 1-719-538-8847
Email: admin@grsbeef.org
Copyright ©2018 Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. All rights reserved.
You are receiving this message as a benefit of membership to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef