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

Executive Director's Message:

When you receive this, a lot will be working from home and your plans will have drastically altered over the past few weeks. We will be reviewing our own plans this week having already cancelled the physical board meeting at the end of April. 

As four cases of Covid-19 were detected amongst attendees of the World Hereford Congress held here in NZ, I am now also self isolating as a precaution, as I did meet with attendees in Queenstown. So please all keep well, and keep in touch.

This will undoubtedly be a very tough time financially for many companies and we will feel the repercussions through the entire economy for a long time. Beef kills, however, are dramatically exceeding 2019 and cash prices are currently rising and expected to increase further. On Monday, US cutout values reached their highest level ever for March. 

These trends are driven by retail as consumers are stocking up based on the fact that they will be eating at home more in the coming weeks – demand has actually increased as a result of coronavirus.

On a completely different topic I have been asked by the World Resources Institute to lead two topics in their GHG Protocol Land Sector Guidance. The topics are rangeland / livestock management (from the scope 1 perspective) and Animal products (from the scope 3 perspective).

This is a significant piece of work for us to undertake, and potentially quite influential; I would both want and need to draw on the expertise of many GRSB members to be able to do this, but if we do it, it gives us direct input into a publication that is widely respected and has up to now been quite critical of the beef industry.

I therefore view this as a significant opportunity to correct the balance and one that we cannot afford to forgo. I will be engaging directly with our own GHG group, in any case, and will also reach out to members who I believe can assist with this.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
March 24, 2020

NCBA Prioritizes Beef Supply Chain Continuation Amid
COVID-19 Outbreak

Katie James, Drovers | March 18, 2020

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is focusing its full attention on the rapidly changing COVID-19 outbreak and its impact on the U.S. cattle industry. The top priority being ongoing operation of the full beef supply chain, NCBA vice president of government affairs Ethan Lane said in a call with media on Wednesday, March 18.

“As has been noted by the White House and others in their response to the unfolding crisis, food security is a top priority, and our role in that is essential to ensuring that grocery store shelves stay full of beef for American consumers,” Lane says.

To achieve this, regulatory certainty is needed throughout the value chain to continue operations. Not only from the end of the supply chain, from the packing plant to the retail sector, but all the way through the value chain to the feedlot and back to the cow/calf producer, including transportation inputs and the moving pieces that help get the product from “gate to plate” he says.

6 Myths About Beef and Sustainability to Bust in 2020

Daily Hive | March 17, 2020

The topic of what we eat comes up often in this discussion with meat as a food that’s front and centre. So where does eating meat (and more specifically, beef) weigh into this debate? We asked Karli Reimer, a specialist in agriculture and conservation communications, to talk us through it all.

One of the biggest misconceptions around beef is the amount of greenhouse gases that beef farming produces. “Canadian beef cattle contribute only 2.4% to Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions and only 0.04% globally. That is a drop in the bucket compared to other contributors — transportation in Canada contributes 28% of total emissions, for example,” says Reimer.

What’s so important about grass? “Grasslands are an important ecosystem that provides homes for a variety of creatures, including grazers like bison. Cattle make the grass and soil healthier through grazing,” says Reimer. In this sense, she explains that cattle and the environment “work well together” and that the land that cattle uses in Canada is extremely important to wildlife, biodiversity, and species at risk.

Beef Looks Beyond Offsets to Get to a Zero Carbon Footprint

Shan Goodwin, North Queensland Register | March 9, 2020

The beef industry will be looking to productivity and efficiency improvements as its pathway to carbon neutral status, rather than relying on offsets, according to managing director of red meat research organisation Meat & Livestock Australia Jason Strong.

The goal of a zero carbon footprint within the next ten years, known as CN30, could not be thought of in isolation, Mr Strong told a senate estimates hearing in Canberra last week.

"There is no question that at the same time as wanting to leave the environment in a better place we have to have businesses that are sustainable on an intergenerational basis and our industry has to be more profitable and more efficient - those things are closely tied together," he said.

Policy Pennings: Plan Includes the Words ‘Sustainable’ and Climate,’ But With a Spin

Harwood D. Schaffer and Daryll E. Ray, AgriNews | March 7, 2020

When we read that Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Scott Hutchins had announced the release of a new five-year blueprint that included “Sustainable Ag Intensification” and “Ag Climate Adaptation” as two of the five program themes, we were interested.

In the last decade we have seen a number of weather-related events that affect agriculture and are consistent with what we would expect as a consequence of global climate change. Crops like corn are being grown further north than ever before. Farmers have faced a greater number of extreme weather events than ever before. Widespread wildfires are now an annual event in some parts of the country.

4 Ways Companies Can Build Low-Carbon Supply Chains

Sundara Bhandaram, Green Biz | March 9, 2020

Reading about Sony’s 2001 "Cadmium Crisis" in Daniel Esty’s "Green to Gold" book was my first introduction to the financial gravity of environmental noncompliance.

This incident had cost the company $130 million, which all began as a result of its inadequate supply chain policies. This illustrated the importance of having sustainability integrated into supply chains — and not as an afterthought.

Understanding this context was important and had me questioning how much has really changed in the last 19 years. As such, I was thrilled to attend GreenBiz 20, where I had the opportunity to sit in on the Supply Chain Transparency Summit. Both the summit and the conference were incredibly useful in providing a broader context of current best practices as well as a place to learn about the challenges many companies are facing as they embark on greening their supply chains.

WRITE TEAM: Livestock Aren’t the Problem — They’re Part of the Solution

Martha Hoffman, The Times | March 8, 2020

Livestock have gotten a bad rap lately.

In an effort to help the environment, some have suggested replacing animal products with plant-based ones. However, as we learn more about the way soil, plants, and animals interact, the data is showing that livestock can fill a vital role in sustainable food production.

At the root of all food production is the healthy soil that means sustainable plant growth. When livestock are raised in a grass-based system, farmers can add pasture crops to the rotation. Crop rotation and biodiversity are important in long-term soil health and productivity, as described by many experts in the field, and livestock can be a key to this end.

Animals rotationally grazed on pasture (moving animals from paddock to paddock so the grass has a chance to rest and regrow before being grazed again) sequester carbon from the air and build up the soil. This improves soil fertility and structure, laying the foundation for good production and drought resistance.

Since this soil building removes carbon from the air as plants photosynthesize, properly managed livestock actually have the potential to be carbon neutral to carbon negative.

A concrete example of the big picture of livestock carbon sequestration is shown in a third-party carbon footprint evaluation of White Oak Pastures in Georgia by Quantis, one of the top environmental research and design firms in the world. The farm’s rotational grazing management stores more carbon in the soil than the farm’s cattle produce during their lifetimes, making the soil healthier and more resilient while producing nutritious food in an environmentally friendly way.

Queensland Farmers to Open Their Gates to Teachers in Bid to Bridge Urban-Rural Divide

Mirage News | March 6, 2020

Teachers from across southern Queensland and northern NSW are encouraged to step out of the classroom and into the paddock thanks to a unique learning opportunity with some of Queensland’s most tech-savvy and progressive farmers.

Applications are now being sought for the Teacher Farm Experience Program (TeacherFX), an initiative allowing primary and high school teachers to discover first-hand the advancements in ag technology and sustainable production as local producers open their gates and showcase their working farms.

The intention is that this knowledge can then be translated into the classroom, with the program aimed at equipping educators with an increased understanding and interest in food and fibre production – with a focus on how they can adopt the learnings into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and digital technology curriculums.

Opinion: Leading a Beef Fightback

Cameron Morse, BEEF Central | March 9, 2020

Strategic communications expert and former agricultural journalist Cameron Morse says the beef industry needs to do more in the communications arena to promote its environmental credentials, and why the best time to start is right now.

Recently when discussing the opening of a chemical processing plant in Australia, a European-based client gave the following instruction with respect to some of the more detailed planning: "We are focussed on safety and environmental sustainability. That must be the theme of everything we do at the opening of the plant….so there must be no non-recyclable material and no beef on the menu.

Yes, that’s right. Beef was being lumped in with plastic shopping bags and single-use plastic cutlery and straws. And it should be ringing alarm bells for cattle producers worldwide, because we know the fate of the plastic shopping bag and single use straws. This was not a tirade from a long-haired, unwashed, vegan, animal welfare activist.

And it wasn’t from a virtue-signalling, sanctimonious, hypocritical Hollywood actor, nor company CEO trying to increase the appeal of his/her product to a conscientious consumer segment. Instead it was from an astute businessman who had read, he believed, the mood of the general public (albeit the European public in this case) and wanted to make sure his company would be viewed favourably by not serving beef.


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