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

Executive Director's Message:

All GRSB members are invited to join our webinar on the 28th April, during which we will hear from different parts of the beef value chain in different countries on the impact that COVID-19 is having now and how it will impact the “next normal” for their businesses. 

To Register for the webinar, click HERE.

At this stage we are going to be talking about the current and short term impacts and adjustments to the way businesses operate rather than trying to look too far into the future. However, as the McKinsey article below points out, this pandemic is a watershed moment and we will certainly emerge out of it into a world that will be shaped by it. The decisions that business leaders take now to move into the future could be extremely positive in influencing the sustainability of our food systems in the future, despite the huge setback that we are experiencing now.

We are planning at least one webinar a month over the coming period, on subjects that are important to the sustainability of the beef industry. In May, we will be discussing GHG’s and, in particular, the metrics used to measure their impact, including GWP* for methane. In June, we plan to discuss land conversion. Further details of both of these events will be e-mailed as we have them.

I suspect for my part, travel will be constrained for some time. As you know, we have rescheduled our next conference on sustainable beef in Paraguay for a year from now, and there is a chance that much of the other international travel that I would normally have undertaken before then will now be virtual. I am encouraged by how positive that transition has been, despite the inevitable challenges, and it is incumbent on all of us involved with sustainability to think about how much we can use adaptations that we have been making in the last month or so in the future. 

With a broad based global membership, we should remember that some of our members and colleagues are facing extremely difficult times as a result of Covid-19, and our thoughts are with them, particularly those who have lost staff, friends or family to this disease.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
April 21, 2020

COVID-19: Implications for Business

McKinsey & Company Executive Brief  | April 2020

The coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It is also having a growing impact on the global economy. This article is intended to provide business leaders with a perspective on the evolving situation and implications for their companies.

The outbreak is moving quickly, and some of the perspectives in this article may fall rapidly out of date. This article reflects our perspective as of April 13, 2020. We will update it regularly as the outbreak evolves.Cattle Market Report And AnalysisCattle Market Report And Analysis

Cattle Market Report And Analysis

Ag Center | April 20, 2020

Price discovery in cash cattle has joined the dysfunction observed for several weeks in the live cattle futures. For those watching the FCE auction for almost 6000 head of fed cattle, most walked away scratching their head. The discovery of price was anything but clear and the few pens that sold brought $105, but one pen sold as low as $80 [but was passed out]. Many groups were offered for $1 and less, but found -0-bids. The lack of clarity in establishing a cash price is confusing an already confused marketplace.

The implications of insufficient processing capacity is an all too familiar occurrence for beef producers. The Tyson fire was a case study in how it works. Cattle owners lower their prices until the lowest available price buys a kill slot. Processors raise their prices as retailers compete to purchase an insufficient amount of beef products. Balance must be restored to the live market otherwise price discovery will be impossible. The Canadian model presents the best option for the current situation.

COVID-19: Cattle Industry Losses Estimated At $13.6 Billion

Drovers | April 15, 2020

A new study estimates cattle industry losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will reach $13.6 billion. The study was commissioned by NCBA and conducted by a team of industry-leading agricultural economists led by Derrell Peel, Breedlove Professor of Agribusiness and Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist at Oklahoma State University, to assist USDA in determining how best to allocate CARES Act relief funds to cattle producers.

The study shows cow-calf producers will see the largest impact, with COVID-19-related losses totaling an estimated $3.7 billion, or $111.91 per head for each mature breeding animal in the United States. Without offsetting relief payments, those losses could increase by $135.24 per mature breeding animal, for an additional impact totaling $4.45 billion in the coming years.

Beyond Coronavirus: The Path to the Next Normal

McKinsey & Company | March 2020

The coronavirus is not only a health crisis of immense proportion—it’s also an imminent restructuring of the global economic order. Here’s how leaders can begin navigating to what’s next.

It is increasingly clear our era will be defined by a fundamental schism: the period before COVID-19 and the new normal that will emerge in the post-viral era: the “next normal.” In this unprecedented new reality, we will witness a dramatic restructuring of the economic and social order in which business and society have traditionally operated.

And in the near future, we will see the beginning of discussion and debate about what the next normal could entail and how sharply its contours will diverge from those that previously shaped our lives.

Sustainable Food Trust Podcast: Episode Five: In Conversation with Will Harris

Sustainable Food Trust | April 17, 2020

In this episode, Patrick speaks to regenerative farmer Will Harris, based in the United States, in Bluffton, Georgia. At White Oak Pastures, Will farms livestock including cows, pigs, chickens and sheep under a rotational grazing system.

An independent carbon footprint evaluation demonstrates the amount of carbon sequestered each year at the farm, and the environmental benefits this way of farming can provide.

Will shares the rich history of White Oak Pastures, and explains how the coronavirus has affected the farm’s sales. They also discuss the principles of regenerative agriculture, soil building, and the farms fully integrated supply chain. Finally Will considers the impact of the current pandemic on his business. View video HERE.

Alltech Releases Free, On-demand Series with Global Industry Experts About the Impact of COVID-19 on Agriculture

The Cattle Site | April 18, 2020

As part of Alltech’s effort to provide valuable resources to colleagues, customers and the global agricultural community confronting COVID-19, the company has created a special discussion series, Forging the Future of the Farm & Food Chain.

Available online, this free, on-demand series features experts from around the world as they share their insights into how the global pandemic is affecting the agriculture industry’s present and future.

“Crises illuminate character, and COVID has highlighted the heroic work undertaken by the global agriculture community to ensure a secure food supply in the midst of such uncertainty,” said Dr Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “We created this series as an expression of our support for this community. In addition to offering valuable information and insights in the context of this COVID challenge, we hope to deliver inspiration — we have an opportunity in this moment to, together, shape the future of the farm and food chain.”

Farmers Launch #LockdownLearning Initiative for Home Education

The Cattle Site | April 12, 2020

Farmers and growers from across Britain are hoping to inspire and educate children about food and where it comes from as a part of a new #LockdownLearning project.

The free, online resource comes as thousands of parents are now home-schooling their children due to the coronavirus.

The project, which was developed by the NFU and the team of farmers at EatFarmNow, provides exciting educational farming activities for children while they are away from school, helping to build their knowledge of science and technology alongside learning all about food production.

A Link Missing from The Chain: A Conversation With JBS

Rachel Gabel, The Fence Post | April 17, 2020

JBS Head of Corporate Affairs Cameron Bruett said the meat packing industry has made tremendous gains in efficiency through the use of technology, process engineering and workflow management. However, without the workforce, who are both skilled and specialized, the complex beef carcass couldn’t make it to the grocery case. It is those workers a closure is meant to protect during the spread of COVID-19.

Social distancing is possible to achieve in some parts of the beef processing facility but more difficult in others, especially with the chain speed required. The closure has forced the hand of cattle feeders and producers as cattle remain on feed and trucks are parked. Social distancing, the foremost recommendation to squelch the spread of COVID-19, is possible to achieve in some parts of the beef processing facility but more difficult in others, especially with the chain speed required to meet demand efficiently.

Bruett said when the first critical infrastructure guidelines came out, the Centers for Disease Control recommended social distancing, frequent handwashing, covering coughs, staying home if ill, and self-quarantine for those exposed to a person who has tested positive. He said those recommendations were implemented immediately upon their release in all plants across the company’s operations.

With the Greeley JBS facility shuttered, a link has fallen out of the chain for feeders and cow calf producers. For cattle already purchased, JBS has either diverted or delayed cattle coming into the facility though all pre-confirmed commitments to producers are being honored regardless of which action was taken.

“We don’t have a business without them,” Bruett said of livestock producers, many of whom are focused on — and furious about — the packer’s margins. “We’ve always been a committed livestock buyer on any cash market, with negotiated contracts. We have NCBA right here in our home state where we’re headquartered, we have a great relationship with producers all across the country, but here in Colorado especially. We have a special, longstanding relationship with Five Rivers and the feeding industry and they’re all absolute partners in this. These are just unprecedented, turbulent times.”

New IFAD Fund Launched To Help Prevent Rural Food Crisis In Wake of COVID-19

International Fund for Agricultural Development | April 20, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic and economic slowdown threatening the lives and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people, the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today committed US$40 million, and launched an urgent appeal for additional funds, to support farmers and rural communities to continue growing and selling food.

IFAD’s new multi-donor fund, the COVID-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, will mitigate the effects of the pandemic on food production, market access and rural employment. As part of the broader UN socio-economic response framework, the Facility will ensure that farmers in the most vulnerable countries have timely access to inputs, information, markets and liquidity. On top of its own contribution, IFAD aims to raise at least $200 million more from Member States, foundations and the private sector.

How McDonald's Is Prioritizing Health, Safety and Community During the Outbreak

McDonald's | April 16, 2020

As we proactively monitor the impact of COVID-19 in the U.S., we are continuously making changes to processes and restaurant operations with safety top of mind. For more information on all the steps we’ve taken over the last few months as the situation has evolved, and in accordance with expert health guidance, please read this message from David Tovar, Vice President of U.S. Communications & Government Relations.

Supporting Workers in the Context of COVID-19

International Finance Corporation | April 6, 2020

COVID-19 presents many challenges to employers globally, including IFC clients, as providers of jobs and livelihoods for workers and their families. These challenges include providing

safe working conditions for those still working; ensuring business continuity when workers are absent; supporting workers who cannot work due to sickness, safety, caring, or economic reasons throughout the crisis; and dealing with potential changes in labor regulations.


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