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


Executive Director's Message

Best wishes for 2019! One of the issues that many of you have been looking at for the beginning of this year was already mentioned last year, the release this week of the EAT Lancet report. You should be familiar with several of the issues involved as I have covered them several times in Connect.

This background paper will form the basis of their recommendations. In terms of GRSBs communication on the issue, I personally think we should stick to the positive rather than defensive. GRSB, our roundtable members and our member companies are working on the issues that are identified as being negative impacts of the beef industry.

The reason for the roundtables to be formed was that we knew there were issues that were of concern to consumers, buyers and producers themselves, i.e. social, economic and financial sustainability and the principles and criteria we developed as a framework to respond to those concerns. I will share industry communications I receive in response to the EAT Lancet report as they come in.

EAT Lancet

The EAT–Lancet Commission Will Launch; a Global Powerful Campaign Against Meat?

EFA News | January 11, 2019
EAT is a global, non–profit startup dedicated to transforming our global food system through sound science, impatient disruption and novel partnerships. According with the website, "the EAT–Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brings together more than 30 world–leading scientists from across the globe to reach a scientific consensus that defines a healthy and sustainable diet".

But the campaign, that will launch in Oslo on January 17th, sounds like a powerful push to shift global diets by discouraging animal products. It is fuelled by large budgets and will be mediatised for a long time to come, scheduling more of 30 events around the world. But a closer look into its background reveals some perturbing elements. The danger is that the overstatement of certain concerns will result in an anti–livestock narrative, create a false impression of scientific consensus, and do more harm than good in a world in need of nutrient–rich meals and sustainable food systems.

EFA News has received this text which we gladly publish to encourage public debate. These crucial issues, in our humble opinion, should be the responsibility of public authorities, rather than private associations that inevitably act as pressure groups.

Thank you!

Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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Welcome to the Table...
Fulton Market Group
Dateline: January 2019 | Constituency: Consulting Organization
Fulton Market Group is a consulting organization active in the beef procurement industry. They are located in Chicago, IL. A "Customer First" philosophy ensures they always act with integrity and with the client's best interests. They guarantee commitment to achieving the best outcome at every turn. Fulton Market Group combines superior market intelligence, industry experience and 100% supply chain transparency to respond rapidly to every opportunity providing 24/7 real–time access to inventory, order management, and markets.

Connectivity Holds Back Beef's Technology Transformation
Shan Goodwin, Queensland | December 23, 2018
From drones monitoring pasture to mobile phone alerts replacing 250 kilometre drives to check water levels, digital technology and the ability to access and share real–time objective information has the potential to change the day–to–day life of livestock producers in big ways.

Holding up the process, however, is inadequate connectivity and that's why red meat industry leaders and progressive operators are planning to shove it firmly in the faces of politicians in the lead-up to next year’s federal election.

The Ceres smart tag mentioned in the article below as being ready for a trial at Aileron station represents an interesting evolution in terms of livestock ID, in the sense that it can provide feedback to a livestock keeper on the whereabouts and health of their cattle. The device contains a GPS, thermometer and accelerometer. With the these three sensors and sophisticated algorithms it is possible to gather a lot of data about cattle remotely. Perhaps most interesting is that it will provide whole of life traceability, so that questions of provenance for example, can be addressed simply. Such devices have the potential to provide huge amounts of management data to producers.
Ceres Tag Smart Ear Tag Set For Commercial Trial Near Alice Springs
BEEF Central | August 12, 2018
AgTech startup Ceres Tag Pty Ltd and the Caason Group will partner to conduct a trial of the Ceres Tag smart ear tag at Caason's Aileron Pastoral Holdings near Alice Springs next year.

The Ceres Tag smart ear tag is designed to enable near real–time geolocation and health monitoring of livestock, with key features including GPS location, temperature and motion monitoring and remote identification of each animal for provenance and health management.

Farmers Are the True Custodians of the Soil
Richard Halleron, AgriLand | December 30, 2018
Farmers should be praised for doing such a good job in managing our soils sustainably, given the continuing pressure put on them to produce unending quantities of cheap food.

Every farmer worth his or her salt knows that proper soil management must go to the very heart of their business plans. If they fail to address this core issue, then they have no future. Hard experiences garnered over many centuries have taught farmers this very salutary lesson.

Kering, Savory Institute Team Up For First Verified Regenerative Sourcing In Fashion
Sustainable Brands | December 13, 2018
Luxury fashion giant Kering has announced a new collaboration with The Savory Institute — a nonprofit that facilitates large–scale regeneration of the world's grasslands through holistic management — to illustrate the positive impact regenerative agriculture can have in the fashion industry. A first in fashion and luxury, Kering has become a Frontier Founder under Savory's Land to Market™ program — the world's first verified regenerative sourcing solution for meat, dairy, wool and leather — to advocate regenerative sourcing solutions and expand the regenerative agriculture framework in fashion's global supply chains.

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Brands Leading Change

I see the article below as being extremely positive for beef production. By far the majority of beef producers are doing a good job. By putting systems in place that can demonstrate that to younger consumers, either directly, directly or using technology, I see the potential to engage much more closely with consumers, understand their concerns, and circumvent the misinformation spread by anti animal agriculture activists.
Cargill Survey Shows Young Generation Wants Connection to Agriculture
Ryan McCarthy, Meat + Poultry | January 9, 2019
A recent report by Cargill showed that young people around the world want to connect with farm life. In its latest Feed4Thought survey, Cargill found that twice as many young respondents ages 18 to 34 in the US and China reported knowing a livestock or seafood farmer compared to those over 55 – with similar trends in Mexico and France.

The survey also found that 81 percent of 18–to–34–year–old Chinese participants visited a livestock or seafood farm during their lifetime, compared to 50 percent of their older surveyors.

"We know people increasingly care about animal welfare, the healthfulness of foods and sustainability," said Marina Crocker, head of Cargill Animal Nutrition market insights. "By pairing Cargill's understanding of what our customers need with state–of–the–art analytics about what people want, we can anticipate and serve emerging consumer expectations in the solutions we provide our customers."

Fifty–two percent of younger participants also said they changed their eating habits for sustainability reasons in the past year compared to 19 percent for older US respondents. Eighty percent of young Chinese people surveyed reported changes in their eating habits as well. .

WalMart and 44 Farms: What It Means to You   
Nevil Speer, BEEF Magazine | December 27, 2018
One of the largest developments for the beef industry in 2018 was the announcement that Walmart has forged a business relationship with 44 Farms and will be soon featuring branded–program products in their stores. Because of Walmart's scale, that's a major undertaking to ensure that the supply chain can deliver products on a consistent, regular and timely basis to the store network.

For Today's Carnivore, Not All Proteins Are Created Equal
Nancy Kruse, Nation's Restaurant News | January 07, 2019
Restaurants source fresh, sustainable, humane meat amid demand for better ingredients.

Hands down, the biggest menu newsmaker of the past year has been the vegetable, which is taking a well–deserved star turn as chefs work their culinary magic to transform produce of all types into appealing side dishes and entrées. As a corollary, vegetable–based meat substitutes have also grabbed headlines as large chains like Carl's Jr. and smaller chains like Fatburger have adopted them as burger options.

Yet despite all the excitement around the subject of plant–based cuisine, Americans remain committed carnivores. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture forecast that consumer consumption would reach a record–breaking 222.2 pounds per capita of red meat and poultry in 2018.

Major Beef Purchasers Propelling Change in Cattle Industry
Alexis Walters, WKBN27 | January 1, 2019
Wendy's and Tyson, two of the biggest beef markets, are making changes to where they get their product. They're taking an extra step to make sure the beef they serve to their customers is high quality. It's a change that could have an effect on the local industry. Beef Quality Assurance, or BQA, is a certification that has been around for over 30 years. It pertains to the way that beef is raised and handled.

BQA Instructor Haley Shoemaker said while it's nothing new to the cattle industry, it's becoming a necessity for farms who want to continue to thrive. Having a Beef Quality Assurance certification lets buyers know that the cattle they're getting was handled well with as little stress possible, she said. "It's another way for us to say we've done our part. You can trust in this product. It's been raised in a respectful manner," Shoemaker said. It's not required, but if you sell to Wendy's or Tyson, it's now becoming necessary to be able to sell your product.

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Pro & Anti

There are increasing numbers of article both condemning and supporting beef. The vociferous anti meat rhetoric makes it increasingly difficult to have reasoned discussions with people at any distance from the industry itself as the general public and increasing numbers of policy makers (in Europe) are now thinking that it is axiomatic that beef production cannot be sustainable.

Maybe the transparency path as outlined by the Cargill research above is the most likely to provide a useful check on this trend. The sustainability facts that we are all dealing with are complicated and the simplification into pro and anti camps is doing no one any good. We need to get better at getting nuances across.

The article by Malcolm Tucker hits some nails on the head, and is certainly a good one for a lay audience who doesn't want a science lecture. However, it's not recommended to anyone who prefers no swearing in their reading material (due warning).

I Think You'll Find It's A Little Bit More Complicated Than That
Malcolm Tucker, Medium Food | January 7, 2019
Pride of place among my selection of childish T–shirts featuring things that I find amusing, is one I purchased some years ago from Ben Goldacre's Bad Science blog. It has "I think you'll find it's a little bit more complicated than that." written across the chest.

I bought it because it's a good way to look at life. I'm one of life's natural sceptics, dubious and irritated by much and chief among the things that I am dubious of and irritated by are people who offer apparently simple solutions to obviously complex problems. People who do this tend to fall into two distinct categories, they're either ill–informed or they're dishonest.

'Unlike The Cow, We Get Better At Making Meat Every Day'
Greg Henderson, Drovers | January 10, 2019
"You can smell that meaty char right off the grill," Laura Kliman, a senior flavor scientist and cook for the day at Impossible Foods' Silicon Valley test kitchen, tells C/Net.com. "We are striving to get that total meat experience." "Striving" is the key word there, since Kliman is referring to the Impossible Burger 2.0, otherwise known as the second–generation attempt at creating a plant–based burger that looks, smells and tastes like beef.

The Latest In Pro–Beef Headlines
Amanda Radke, BEEF Magazine | January 8, 2019
It may seem like all press around beef is bad press. However, these recent headlines give beef lovers some hope. The evidence is in — beef is healthful and sustainable! Spread the word!

The onslaught of negative press surrounding beef nutrition and the environment continues. However, in the face of all the anti–beef rhetoric, there's a glimmer of hope. The overwhelming evidence that beef is both sustainable and healthful is getting harder to sweep under the rug. This news is evident in recent positive animal agricultural headlines. Here is the roundup of the latest pro–beef articles worth sharing.f

We can expect to see many more articles in this vein in the coming weeks with the publishing of the EAT Lancet report.
Eating Less Beef and More Beans Would Cut Deaths by 5–7%
Oliver Cann, World Economic Forum | January 3, 2019
What's the story? We've known for some time that cows reared for beef or dairy products produce a lot of greenhouse gas emissions – and with demand expected to double, this is an increasing concern.

But what hasn't been fully understood until now is that today's levels of beef consumption can also have a detrimental effect on human health. Working with the Oxford Martin School in the UK, we've found that incorporating meat alternatives into diets could reduce diet–related mortality by 5%.

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