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TheBeefSite Newsletter - 18 March 2015

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Wednesday 18th March 2015.
Michael Priestley - Editor

Michael Priestley

Novus International

MSD Animal Health

Producer Influence Needed on US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

Cattle producers across the US are being rallied to step forward and share their expertise into rationalising how US beef can increase its sustainability.

This follows the formation of its own multi-stakeholder roundtable - the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) - as a regional branch of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB).

The new organisation, formed earlier this month, is striving to identify “sustainability indicators” specific to US beef production systems. The end result is to encourage continuous progress in the sector across economic, social and environmental lines.

In doing so, the US joins Canada, Columbia, Mexico and Brazil in having a distinct regional roundtable, something that shows “tremendous momentum” in the sustainability movement, according to JBS USA’s Cameron Bruett.

Like the GRSB, the US branch will not mandate standards or verify the performance of individuals, instead emphasising its role in communicating, leading and supporting collaboration and stakeholder engagement.

There are currently 43 members, including: Cargill, Beef Marketing Group, Texas Cattle Feeders Association (TCFA), Micro Technologies, Merck Animal Health, JBS USA, McDonald’s, Walmart, World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Noble Foundation and the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management.

TCFA chairman Tom McDonald said the GRSB intended to “stake broad parameters appropriate for a global initiative”.

He added: “Now with the launch of the USRSB this spring, it is even more important for US beef producers and cattle feeders to engage in the process of identifying sustainability indicators for the US, in order to represent our economic interests and reaffirm our commitment to protecting the environment and helping our employees and communities to be successful”.

The goal of the USRSB it to:

  • Identify sustainability indicators
  • Establish verification methodologies
  • Generate field project data to test and confirm sustainability concepts for use throughout the United State

John Butler, chief executive officer of the Beef Marketing Group, sees it as the next chapter for US beef, saying US beef producers are “eager” to get involved.

Efforts to drive sustainability in beef production are becoming more important for consumers, said Cargill’s Nicole Johnson-Hoffman.

She added: “For the first time, the entire U.S. beef value chain, including representatives who raise cattle and produce, market and sell beef, in addition to representatives from the NGO community and allied businesses, are coming together to establish metrics and criteria that will be used to benchmark the present and help measure improvements in the sustainability of American beef going forward.”

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