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


Executive Director's Message

First, huge congratulations to the USRSB on the unanimous adoption of the US Beef Industry Sustainability Framework by their members! This is a huge achievement, and the challenge of getting so many diverse stakeholders with often differing views on a range of topics should not be underestimated.

We are into May already, so later this month we have the chance to get together for a number of important meetings for GRSB. The first, on the 21st of May, is our strategic planning session, which is by invitation – however, you have all had a chance to answer our strategic planning questionnaire and should you wish to provide further inputs please do contact me in the coming week so that we can incorporate your thoughts in the meeting. The outcome of that meeting will be the basis of strategic plan for the coming five years and a vision further into the future, of a GRSB that meets our members needs and those of the sustainable beef sector at large.

On the 22nd and 23rd of May we have our Communicators Summit, which I am sure that you are aware of by now as we have been sharing regular updates through email and social media. It is filling up fast, so don't forget to register soon! This promises to be an exceptional event and to really move our GRSB communications forward, bringing expertise from throughout our network and beyond to shape our communications strategy over the coming years. This is the start of a communications process, and if you are involved in communicating any aspects of beef sustainability you should certainly be there to give your thoughts on what that strategy should look like. There will be participants from five continents and discussions will centre around what we can communicate (with science to support it) and how we should communicate to avoid the twin traps of defensiveness and talking to ourselves.

On the 23rd we will also have a a meeting on GHG and impacts of the beef chain on emissions, sequestration and related topics. We will hear from Viresco Solutions as they report on the output of phase 1 of our GHG project, and we prepare for phases 2. As many of your organisations have an interest in this area I hope you will be able to have a representative present and who can engage as the second phase of the GHG project progresses.

Finally the afternoon of 23rd and morning of 24th we have our board meeting, which in addition to the usual updates from regional roundtables will present the work of the preceding days to the board, to seek approval for guidance coming out of those earlier meetings and keep us on track until our next face to face board meeting in New Zealand in November of this year.

For those of you who are interested in the progress of our Latin American roundtable members and in beef sustainability in Latin America in general, I encourage you to save the date for our Sustainable Beef Vision Summit in São Paulo on July 9th –11th, hosted with GTPS and Arcos Dorados.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
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U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Adopts Industry Framework
Feedstuffs | May 1, 2019
Major food and retail companies, cattle producers, veterinarians, scientists and non–government organizations (NGOs) adopted the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework this week to strengthen the sustainability of U.S. beef. The framework is a product of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), a multi–stakeholder organization whose 116 members represent 30% of the nation's cattle herd, more than 20 billion lb. of beef processed and more than 100 million consumers.

USRSB said the framework leverages individual opportunities for continuous improvement in sustainability unique to businesses and operations that raise, process or sell beef in the U.S. It also allows individual operations to voluntarily assess their sustainability efforts.

"Today, the U.S. beef industry serves a delicious, healthy and sustainable product," said 2018–19 USRSB chair Dr. Kim Stackhouse–Lawson, JBS USA director of sustainability. "The U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is about telling that story to consumers by improving transparency as well as exploring opportunities to more responsibly use resources, raise animals and care for the people who help beef get to the American dinner table."

Reef Beef Sinks Grazing BMP
Jason Nason, BEEF Central | May 3, 2019
the global head of the beef sustainability roundtable.

Global Roundtable for Beef Sustainability chair Nicole Johnson–Hoffman, NAB Natural Value manager James Bentley and AgForce Queensland president Georgie Somerset at Beef 2018.

Speaking at Beef 2018 in Rockhampton, GRSB president Nicole Hoffman Johnson said the farmer–led basis of the program was what truly set it apart and made it world leading on the global beef stage: "Other countries have done some sustainability work that they're very proud of and they should be, but they haven't put the farmer at the centre of it," she said.

The program, developed over the past 10 years by NRM group the Fitzroy Basin Association, producer representative group AgForce and the Queensland Department of Agriculture, now involves more than 3000 participating beef properties and has been touted as a model for the national beef industry to use to maintain and grow consumer trust.

But almost one year to the week since Ms Johnson–Hoffman's offered her glowing praise for the program, it has been scuttled over fears the State Government could compromise or misuse participating producers' private data.

Farming Minister Robert Goodwill Backs Role of Grazing Livestock in Climate Change Battle
Ben Barnett, The Yorkshire Post | May 3, 2019
Grazing livestock in Yorkshire's uplands are part of the solution to climate change, not part of the problem, the Farming Minister has said.

The Government's chief advisory committee on climate change has recommended people eat less meat as part of sweeping lifestyle and societal changes to cut emissions to net zero by 2050. While Robert Goodwill, who is also the Conservative MP for Whitby and Scarborough, believes livestock production must become more sustainable, he said there are simply no agricultural alternatives to grazing that are suited to rough upland terrain.

The Defra Minister, whose family has farmed on the Castle Howard estate since 1850, suggested the Government will help British agriculture hit its own net zero carbon target via the Environmental Land Management Scheme that it has proposed.

Under the scheme, which is intended to pay support money to farmers for delivering "public goods", farmers could get income for carbon capture, he said.

The Fight to Define Regenerative Agriculture
Jim Giles, Green Biz | April 24, 2019
Regenerative agriculture could convert farms from carbon sources to carbon sinks, and the buzz around the idea is intense. Major companies, including General Mills and Ben and Jerry's, are expressing interest and making commitments.

A recent session on the topic at Expo West, the huge natural products trade show, was filled to overflowing. But some insiders also see trouble ahead. There is no agreed way to certify regenerative products, and as multiple initiatives rush to fill that gap there is a risk of diluting effort and confusing consumers.

The need to change the way we farm is not in doubt. Fertilizer use and livestock grazing release nitrous dioxide and methane respectively, and the sector as a whole was responsible for 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2016. At the same time, the degradation of soils by industrial farming practices is one reason why the United Nations estimates that the productivity of 20 percent of the planet's vegetated surface is declining.

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McDonald's Germany Debuts Vegan Burger Amid Increased Calls for Meat–Free Protein
Food Ingredients 1st | April 29, 2019
McDonald's Germany is today launching a vegan burger for the first time, made with Nestlé's plant–based Incredible Burger made from soy and wheat proteins. In its recent credibility campaign "Believe it or not," McDonald's German McDonald's Germany is today launching a vegan burger for the first time, made with Nestlé's plant–based Incredible Burger made from soy and wheat proteins.

In its recent credibility campaign "Believe it or not," McDonald's Germany seeks to showcase how it is working to improve its meat–free offerings as debates around on sustainability and animal welfare continue to rise. According to McDonald's, The Big Vegan TS is a "meatless alternative with the real McDonald's taste."

Australian 2019 Beef Cattle Seasonal Outlook: Swinging in the Rain
Rabobank Research | April 2019
The level of destocking that has occurred over the last five years means that Australia's cattle herd is at its lowest point in 20 years. This limited inventory will make the market very sensitive to any changes in demand and exaggerate any price upside as a result of increased rain and better conditions across the country. Producers, along with feedlots and processors, will be forced to compete for a very limited pool of cattle, and we expect prices to move substantially as producers – motivated by rain – enter and leave the market.

Global Survey Shows Strong Support for Meat
BEEF Central | April 29, 2019
Global research by food giant Cargill has highlighted strong consumer support for meat. In its latest Feed4Thought survey, Cargill found 80 percent of 4000 democratically–representative respondents surveyed across the United States, Brazil, the Netherlands and Vietnam believed animal protein can be part of an environmentally responsible regimen and 93 percent saying it can play an important role in a healthy diet.

Cargill in involved in a wide range of plant and livestock based agricultural sectors, which includes recent investments in plant–based alternatives to animal proteins. Feed4Thought is a regular consumer survey conducted by ORC International for Cargill Animal Nutrition that explores key perceptions and opinions about important topics in the animal protein supply chain.

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Walmart Enters the Beef Industry
Kayla Webb, Deli Market News | April 29, 2019
There's no such thing as a one–trick pony in grocery retail, and 2019 is proving to be the year that major names are letting that fact be known loud and clear. Following Costco's foray into the supply–side of meat with its very own chicken processing plant, Walmart announced last week that it would be trying its hand in the beef market with its own end–to–end Angus beef supply chain.

"As clean labels, traceability, and transparency become more and more important to customers, we've made plans to enter into the beef industry creating an unmatched system that allows us to deliver consistent quality and value," said Scott Neal, Senior Vice President, Meat, Walmart U.S. "By enlisting a number of best–in–class companies to take part in the supply chain, we'll be able to provide customers with unprecedented quality, provide transparency throughout the supply chain, and leverage learnings we gain across our business."

Live Export Industry Suggests Major Reform as Part of Red Meat Industry Review
Weekly Times Now
Australia's peak live export body – Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council – and the industry's research and development corporation – LiveCorp – are investigating a merger. Submissions provided to The Weekly Times by the two groups following the release of the Red Meat Industry Memorandum of Understanding green paper show they unanimously support the merger. LiveCorp said this would create a single policy, service and research and development entity for the sector.

The organisation said it would give the merged body the opportunity to form joint programs with the structures that are established by the producer and processor organisations. It also called for "an overarching whole of red meat industry organisation – either a revised Red Meat Advisory Council or a new entity."

Zimbabwe's Beef Industry Stampedes Back to Life
Ray Mwareya, How We Made It In Africa | April 26, 2019
Zimbabwe's famed beef industry, which collapsed in the 2000s following outbreaks of foot–and–mouth disease, is now rebounding.

The Southern African country's global beef exports resumed in 2017, 10 years after they slowed to a crawl when the country's economy tumbled. In addition to the foot–and–mouth disease, the beef industry had been hit by crippling economic sanctions imposed on the country by Western nations, which contributed to hyperinflation, huge foreign debts and obsolete transport fleets. Mismanagement of livestock farms worsened the situation.

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