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


Executive Director's Message:


In addition to setting Global Goals for GRSB, which will involve members and roundtables from all over the world, our Strategic plan renewed our Vision and Mission – at the beginning of a new year and indeed decade – it is worth reminding ourselves of them and of the changes:


Vision: We envision a world where beef is a trusted part of a thriving food system in which the beef value chain is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable. 

Mission: The GRSB mission is to advance, support, and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science, and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. 


The italics are additions; and building trust in the fact that beef has an important role to play in the food system requires communication of a new order for GRSB. For this purpose our communication committee is preparing a plan for submission to the board. It is clear that this will ask for a new level of involvement and commitment of our members if it is to be successful, and it will require us to reach many more organisations to ensure that we are representative of as much of the beef industry as we can be.

We will also need to find the resources to enable this increased effort. Naturally, our members are already involved in communications efforts in many ways, and one way in which we can leverage resources is to make use of those existing communications and the channels they are using to collect and share material.


Our other active working groups are embarking on their workplans for the year; the Goals group, the GHG group and the Joint Working Group on Forests – once again if you wish to participate in any of these, please get in touch with me and Angela Luongo and we will add your name to any of the working groups you request. You may add anyone from your organisation to any of the groups as time and expertise allows.

It may be that most people who have heard of regenerative agriculture associate it with beef production, and I think the majority would acknowledge the important role that ruminant livestock have to play in regenerative systems, and yet they are so much more than that. If you have not yet found the time to read “The Call of the Reed Warbler” I would recommend it, full of varied examples of regenerative production in Australia. 

The key to understanding regenerative systems lies, not in defining them precisely, but probably the opposite, in fact. As one of the producers involved in GRSB right at the beginning was fond of saying “There is no such thing as best practice – what works well in some paddocks on my farm doesn’t work in others,” so regenerative practices are about the outcomes being sought; rather than a list of practices;  healthy living soils, ground cover to protect them and improved water and nutrient cycling while securing the economic and social livelihoods of those who the land supports.

As is so often the case, I don’t think that entrenched views or criticisms are the best way forward. Open mindedness and the willingness to improve are important assets, and there are few people who could not improve some aspects of what they do by learning from others.



Ruaraidh Petre
\nGlobal Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
\nExecutive Director
\nJanuary 21, 2020


Regenerative Agriculture: Not Just for Beef Anymore


By Matthew Wadiak, Sustainable Brands  | January 15, 2020

Beef is naturally at the forefront of the conversation around regenerative ag because of the direct and dramatic improvement properly managed ruminants can have on soil quality. But that doesn’t mean that other foods shouldn’t be held to the same standards. 

Regenerative agriculture is a system of producing food that supports the improvement of soil health over time while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In 2019, consumer awareness of regenerative ag grew exponentially. Democratic presidential candidates discussed agriculture’s role in carbon sequestration on the debate stage; and the film, Biggest Little Farm, was shown on transcontinental flights, bringing the importance of biodiversity, soil health and proper animal husbandry into the spotlight for people who had never considered themselves to be good food advocates, or even ‘foodies.’

There is a growing awareness that — contrary to industrial agriculture — regenerative agriculture is a positive force for change with respect to the environment and public health, and a tool to combat climate change. It works by utilizing crop rotations to build robust plant root systems that store greenhouse gases in the soil instead of releasing them into the atmosphere.  

The Carbon Ranch

By Courtney White, Carbon Ranch  | January 3, 2020

No one was talking about soil carbon in 2010 in this way other than a few ‘out there’ scientists, such as Christine Jones, and a handful of agriculturalists, so I did what every activist must do sooner or later to spread the word – write an op-ed. In it, I wondered: why is society so obsessed with high technology as a solution to our problems, including climate change, when the low technology of nature could be more effective? Why not use the power of photosynthesis as a solution instead?

In the op-ed, I argued that we could store carbon in soils by: (1) switching to planned grazing systems using livestock, particularly on degraded land; (2) restoring riparian and wetland zones; (3) protecting open space from development; and (4) implementing no-till farming practices.

“The time has come to bundle them together into one economic and ecological whole, which I call a carbon ranch,” I wrote. “The goal of a carbon ranch is to reduce atmospheric CO2 while producing substantial co-benefits for all living things. These include local food production, improved ecosystem services, restored wildlife habitat, rural economic development, and the strengthening of cultural traditions.” 

'Agriculture Will Always Result in GHG Emissions' – Creed 

By Breifne O'Brien, AgriLand  | Jan 4, 2020

It has been highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, that the EU’s long-term strategy ‘A Clean Planet for All’ acknowledges that agricultural production “will always result in non-CO2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions,” such as methane and nitrous oxide.

In making the comment, Minister Creed clarified: “These gases can be reduced by 2050 thanks to efficient and sustainable production methods.”

The minister made the comments in response to a question from Independent TD Mattie McGrath asking if an analysis has been carried out by his department on the impact on agriculture arising from an EU commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Amazing Cows Hold Promise in Pioneering Sustainable Food Systems of The Future

By Curt Harler, Phys Org  | January 3, 2020

Livestock's unique and 'indispensable' natural biological processes enable them to consume plant and food residues that are either indigestible by humans, unpalatable to people, or are no longer salable for any of a number of reasons. Dou refers to these residues as IUUB (indigestible, unpalatable, or unsellable biomass); for example, the surge of processing byproducts generated by the increased popularity of plant-based foods in consumers' diets.

\"By maximizing the use of IUUB, the livestock sector of agriculture actually contributes to this societal issue in a very positive way,\" says Dou. 

The animals consuming IUUB are a key component to the wholesomeness of our food system, as well as to our own diets. \"Without them, we would not be able to convert otherwise wasted biomass into nutritious meat, milk, and eggs.\" she emphasizes. 

Considering the Domino Effect Of Sustainability Goals


By Jeff Gelski, Meat + Poultry  | December 31, 2019


Focusing on one sustainability issue, be it a single ingredient, process or practice, may have negative consequences if a company fails to account for impacts and tradeoffs in other sustainability areas.

“That creates a challenge in today’s food system because you can’t impact one variable in a system without having an impact on the overall system,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity. Food safety is one of several issues to consider when making sustainability decisions.

“It would be outrageous for a food company to make a decision based upon a special interest group’s demands that decreases the safety or stability of security of their supply chain,” said Marty Matlock, Ph.D, a professor of ecological engineering at the Univ. of Arkansas in Fayetteville and executive director of the university’s Resiliency Center. Research at the Resiliency Center examines the interconnectedness of economic, social and environmental systems.


Beef Sustainability New Marketplace Program Recognized for Meeting Sustainability Standards 

By Victoria G. Myers, Progressive Farmer  |  January 13, 2020

As beef producers work to stand out to buyers, meeting sustainability standards and having some type of certification to prove compliance to those potential buyers, is getting easier.

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) announced Where Food Comes From's (WFCF) new BeefCare standard meets all six key elements of USRSB's framework for sustainability. This signifies proper incorporation in the BeefCARE standard of cow/calf sustainability indicators and metrics.

BeefCARE joins four other marketplace programs recognized for meeting this criteria by USRSB. Programs apply for and pass evaluation by an independent third party to show they have incorporated framework criteria for beef sustainability. Their alignment claim is good for three years, after which companies reapply to maintain recognition status. 

McDonald’s UK and The Prince’s Countryside Fund to Support Farmers

Somerset County Gazette  | January 11, 2020

McDonald’s UK has entered into a three-year partnership with The Prince’s Countryside Fund, supporting the charity’s work in improving the economic resilience of farming families.

Supported by McDonald’s, the The Prince’s Countryside Fund is launching the ‘Beef it Up’ scheme in 2020, a series of group workshops aimed at livestock farms in the Farm Resilience Programme alumni network. In order to further strengthen these farm businesses, the workshops will address topics including: Animal health and welfare, Farm safety, Economic resilience & Environmental management.

The ‘Beef it Up’ workshops will help farms to continuously improve their practices and sustainability performance, by introducing them to practical steps they can take to immediately make changes to their production systems.


Though I find the image of people who consume a disproportionate share of the world’s resources criticising those who produce one of the few essential in life (food) distasteful, I am not sure whether telling them that they are hypocrites will necessarily do much for our case. It’s probably time to recognise that the way forward in this battle for headlines is to meet like with like.

If celebrities are so influential, and use their platform to promote their latest beliefs, we probably need to spend time and effort to get these people onto farms and ranches to experience the benefits of genuinely sustainable production, understand the complexities involved in managing for soil health and water services, the complementarity between livestock and crops, and role of grazing lands in biodiversity, and the importance of animal sourced food in human nutrition. It’s a big ask, but we have a much more engaging and interesting industry to show them than the factories and laboratories that hope to disrupt the food world.

Opinion: Hollywood Hypocrites at the Golden Globes

By Senator Deb Fischer, Agri Pulse | January 13, 2020

At the 77th Golden Globes Awards last week, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association publicized their commitment to combating climate change and “saving the world” by way of an anti-meat crusade. For the first time in the award show’s history, the HFPA offered a menu that completely snubbed real meat. The association’s president said in a statement that the plant-based menu raises awareness around “small changes that have a greater impact.”

The claim promotes a meatless diet as a north star for a world-conscious, sustainable, and morally noble lifestyle. But stunts like this are not only hypocritical, they are overly simplistic and lead people further away from real practices that could help reduce carbon emissions.

America’s ranchers and producers have been a popular target for blame from climate change activists. A number of these attacks stem from the false assertion that livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gases.

However, the Environmental Protection Agency states that all of U.S. agriculture contributes to a mere nine percent of greenhouse gas emissions, with animal agriculture less than half of this amount at below four percent. This pales in comparison to transportation emissions, which accounts for 28 percent

Freshwater Proposals Could Cost Sheep and Beef Farmers Millions

By Esther Taunton, Stuff  |  January 13 2020  

The bill for sheep and beef farmers to meet proposed freshwater standards has been \"grossly underestimated\" and could run into the millions per farm, research shows.  

Beef and Lamb New Zealand wants the Government to reconsider its controversial freshwater proposals after research found the cost to farmers would be much higher than first estimated.


Rural consultancy firm BakerAg put the total cost of meeting the proposed changes at between $2.4m and $3.4m per farm over 10 years, significantly more than the Ministry for the Environment's estimate of $148,500 over a decade.

Integrate Cattle Info


By John Maday, Bovine Veterinarian | January 3, 2020


The U.S. beef industry has, for decades, known that better collaboration between the cow-calf, stocker and feeding sectors could benefit animal health, performance and beef quality. And while numerous alliances and cooperative agreements have had some success in coordinating practices and sharing information up and down the production chain, progress has remained slow.

Overall incidence of feedlot morbidity, particularly due to bovine respiratory disease, has not declined, while cattle feeders and their consultants still struggle with large numbers of high-risk calves with unknown [LT1] health backgrounds.

To address these issues, the feedlot veterinarians with Production Animal Consultation (PAC) have embarked on a plan to partner with their colleagues from the cow-calf and stocker sectors, sharing data, experiences, ideas and outcomes.

‘Positive Disruption’ Good For Livestock Industry\n\n

Kenosha News | January 2, 2020


Like much of agriculture, the world’s livestock industry has seen its fair share of innovation over the past 20 years, dramatically changing the way ranchers raise their animals.

Sometimes, said a group of industry leaders, that innovation creates a “positive disruption.”

“The disruption that is on the horizon is real-time information,” Nicola Shadbolt, a professor at Massey University who spoke at a recent meeting of the Global Agenda on Sustainable Livestock at Kansas State University, said in a university news release.

“A rancher can get access to information that can help them make (an important) decision out on the farm. Consumers have access to information when making a purchase. There is power in having real-time information.”

Shadbolt was one of five members of a panel that was speaking about innovation in the livestock industry during the annual meeting.

Panelist Scott Hutchins, the deputy undersecretary of research, education and economics for the USDA, said some of the positive disruptions he’s seen in the livestock industry have focused on four themes:

Advanced genetics (such as gene editing and related technologies), Digital agriculture, Artificial intelligence (which is helping scientists find cures for disease more quickly), Whole farm management.


Betting on Beef


By Nicole Erceg, High Plains Journal | January 1, 2020


We can’t enjoy the mountaintop views without first crossing the valleys.  

The headlines in national media paint a scary picture: “By 2030, the U.S. dairy and cattle industry will have collapsed, as microbial protein factories take over.” 

It may look like dim prospects for our beef community, but numbers just don’t lie.

In the last decade, cattlemen have made significant progress in the quality of the product we provide to consumers. The industry averaged 61% Choice and 3% Prime in 2010. We’ll close out 2019 with 71% of cattle grading Choice and 8.5% Prime, with twice as much Premium Choice.

Consumers have tasted the progress and they like it.


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