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

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Executive Director's Message:

We have been receiving comments from members on the Global Goals. I think the comments we have received so far are supportive.

As many of you were involved in the process of developing these, we had a good foundation to start with. Many of the submissions are asking for clarifications around the use of terminology and the supporting references.

This is good as it shows engagement with the detail of the goals. It is possible that we will need to produce a longer version of the goals with all of the background work included and a shorter "digestible version" for those not directly involved who might balk at reading a longer document.

There are also comments, not surprisingly given our varied membership, that take opposing views. This is inevitable and presents and challenges our writing teams to try and accommodate members' views where possible.

The ones I have read so far are not so categorical as to be impossible to meet, but we should recognise that there will be a certain amount of compromise between viewpoints, as is healthy in a multi-stakeholder partnership. An example of such views is that some find a statement or goal to be too ambitious, whereas others find that it does not go far enough. For example, a company may have already made a commitment that exceeds the goal.

The goals do have to be ambitious. They have to show a level of aspiration that is beyond business as usual, even accounting for incremental improvements that come with time.

On the other hand, we are lucky to have leading organisations and country members within GRSB who have already set targets beyond those that are possible for the global beef industry. I think that this strength will allow us to demonstrate not only that progress is being made, but show a path to those areas that started their journey later, or have other issues that need to be addressed.

Finding a balance between ambition and realism is an art, as is the language to make it clear. One of our members has often said to us that the US and the UK are two cultures divided by a common language. Given that we now have 24 countries involved, several who use English and more who don't, language will always be an interesting challenge. I am often amazed and sometimes tripped up by different usages in different places. Finding language that resonates across continents and between sectors within the beef world will always test us.

We also need to bear in mind that while we are looking for clear and concise language to define ambitious and realistic targets, there are many beyond the beef industry who will pour cold water on all we propose. There are those who will claim beef can never be climate neutral, can never be nature positive and can never provide animals with a life worth living.

It is up to us to provide clear evidence that these are all within our grasp and to define them succinctly in ways that refute the claims of those who will always claim that there is no such thing as sustainable beef.


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
March 23, 2021

Incentivizing Sustainability Along the Beef Value Chain

This free 90-minute GRSB Member webinar will be held:
Thursday, March 25, 2021
at 2:00 p.m. Central U.S. Time.
(8:00 p.m. UTC)

Register NOW

Moderated by Justin Sherrard, Global Strategist Animal Protein with Rabobank Netherlands, an expert panel will share information and provide answers to this important question

Although the benefits of being more sustainable would seem to be obvious, the question is still asked along the beef value chain, "who's going to pay?"

The next in a series of informative webinars produced by GRSB will explore how financial incentives are being created within institutions to recognize the important progress being made by stakeholders in the beef industry globally.

Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions during the webinar. 

The 2021 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, to be held April 14, 2021 (April 15 in New Zealand and Australia) will provide an exciting world-wide virtual platform to launch the vital and significant GRSB Global Goals to be implemented over the next ten years. The development and adoption of these goals is important in demonstrating the beef value chain’s commitment and progress in achieving more sustainable global practices.

The upcoming Global Conference offers a format that will allow participants to build their own itinerary from live and on-demand content. The Live Sessions will be repeated with a Q & A session so that all GRSB members and others interested in beef sustainability may participate at the time most convenient to them, allowing true global participation.  To see the agenda for the conference as well as to register click on the registration button below.

Register HERE

Temple Grandin Digs In On The Practical Side of What Animals Want
Nathanael Johnson, Grist, July 22, 2015

You can't just say CAFO is this, everything else is this — that's just painting with too broad a brush. Things aren't that simple when you actually get out in the field and look at stuff. Compared to the bad old days, it's drastically improved, and I mean drastically. And the handling at slaughter plants has drastically improved.

New Zealand Sheep and Beef Farms Close to Being Carbon Neutral New Study Shows
Bonnie Flaws, Stuff/Farming, October 07, 2020

New Zealand sheep and beef farms are already offsetting the majority of agricultural emissions, new research from Auckland University of Technology shows. The study led by Bradley Case, a senior lecturer in the university's applied ecology department, estimates that the woody vegetation on the country's sheep and beef farms offsets between 63 per cent and 118 per cent of their on-farm agricultural emissions.

The research was funded by Beef and Lamb New Zealand and peer reviewed by chief scientist at Landcare Research, Fiona Carswell and senior ecologist at the University of Canterbury, Adam Forbes. If the mid-point in the report's range is used, on average the woody vegetation on sheep and beef farms is absorbing about 90 per cent of these emissions, meaning they are close to being carbon neutral.

Beef Production and Climate Change
Canadian Cattlemen's Association Website

The greenhouse gas footprint of the beef industry is due mainly to the production of methane (over 70%), methane is a comparatively short-lived GHG and a natural by-product of feed digestion in the intestinal tract of ruminants such as cattle and bison. It is estimated that GHG emissions could be cut by up to 20% through uptake of (currently available) mitigation strategies and another 5% could be cut from reducing food waste by half.

Between 1981 and 2011, the Canadian beef industry reduced its GHG footprint by 14% through advancements in technology and management that enabled industry to produce the same amount of beef in 2011 compared to 1981, all with 29% less breeding stock, 27% fewer slaughter cattle, and 24% less land.

Canadian grasslands, preserved through the efforts of ranchers, can store up to 200 tonnes of carbon per hectare. The cultivation of grasslands can lead to 30 - 35% loss of soil organic carbon.

Carne Carbono Neutro: O Que É E Como Deve Ser Produzida?Carbon Neutral Meat: Or What Is It How It Should Be Produced?Redação Agrishow, October 26, 2020

The Carbon Neutral Meat (CCN) is a concept brand developed exclusively by Embrapa, which is why it is a commercial brand based on the institution's scientific research. According to Embrapa, the concept of "Carbon Neutral Meat" (CCN) aims to certify the beef produced in specific integration systems, through the use of protocols that enable the certification process.

Its main objective is to ensure that the animals that gave rise to the product had their emissions of enteric methane compensated during the production process by the growth of trees in the system.

"This is a meat, whose production process makes it possible to neutralize the CO2 emissions emitted in the cattle breeding, through the integration of trees and pasture", indicates Marfrig.

It is worth mentioning that the entire development of the Carne Carbono Neutro protocol is from Embrapa. The producer needs to follow the protocol described by the institution to later be certified by a third-party certification company accredited by Embrapa.

Three Things to Know About Nature-Based Solutions for Agriculture
The Nature Conservancy Website, February 10, 2021

With more than half of Earth's habitable lands currently used for agricultural production, farmers and other food producers are positioned to be some of the most important stewards of the world's lands and water resources. Transitioning to nature-positive production practices will generate returns for these essential workers, their investors and the planet—but they can't do it alone.

In truth, as much as life on Earth depends on a nature-positive food system, the upfront costs and risks of transitioning to NbS render the option inaccessible for many food producers. Family-owned farms manage almost 75 percent of the world's agricultural lands. Marginalized farmers, many of whom are women, face particularly severe resource constraints and are often poorly positioned to overcome these barriers.

As long as economic incentives discourage a nature-positive path, it is very unlikely these individuals will take on the added costs and risks of transitioning to a new way of farming, even when the long-term financial benefits favor such a choice. Yet given that more than 80 percent of the world's farms operate on less than two hectares of land.

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