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

 
                

GRSB Connect for March 18, 2014
GRSBEEF.ORG

Dear GRSB Member, 

From Ruaraidh Petre
Executive Director Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

Yesterday, after a year of work for the definitions committee, involving many GRSB members as well as outside experts, we released our draft principles and criteria for sustainable beef production, processing and distribution.

Firstly, thank you to all those who have participated in this process and kept pushing to make it happen; we appreciate all you have done!

Secondly, please do share the above link around your network to encourage widespread and representative comment — please share the link only, rather than the document itself, as this will ensure that people access the correct comment form and e–mail address to send their comments to, making the job of handling the large volume of comments anticipated easier for us.

Thanks,
Ruaraidh

             
Roundtable Update

GRSB Releases Draft Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Beef
Dateline: 03/17/14, Source: CattleNetwork.com

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) has released its draft; Principles and Criteria for Global Sustainable Beef document for public comment. The document identifies the key areas in the beef value chain that must be addressed to ensure beef production around the globe is environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable. The draft was developed by GRSB members, including producers and producer associations, the processing sector, retail companies, civil society organizations, and regional roundtables.

Members In The News

Certified Angus Beef Brand Joins Sustainable Beef Initiative
Dateline: 03/12/14, Source: PerishableNews

The Certified Angus Beef ® brand has become a member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) – a group focused on defining and sharing resources for sustainable beef production worldwide. Participation in this dialogue adds to thbre brand’s commitment to providing premium beef to consumers, strengthening the discussion of this complex topic throughout its dedicated network of ranchers, meat companies, retailers and chefs.

"As a leading brand of fresh beef, we believe it's our responsibility to join the discussions on beef sustainability and contribute on behalf of our partners and our consumers," says Mark McCully, the brand's vice president of production. "We appreciate the GRSB's initial progress and look forward to working with the greater beef community in their efforts to define global sustainability."

The GRSB’s beef community, environmental and food business leaders share knowledge and resources that support sound, responsible and viable beef production. The group goes beyond reducing costs and maximizing production to focus on the environment, animal care and food quality.

Sustainable Beef: A "Global" Discussion and You
Dateline: 03/10/14, Source: By: Heidi Carroll, SDSU Extension, AgWeb.com

In the last few months, a global discussion initiated by McDonald's and several other food retailers continues to intensify as best practices of animal welfare and sustainable food production methods, specifically for beef, are being identified. McDonald's commitment to buy sustainable beef in 2016 led to the formation of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which consists of representatives from all sectors of the beef supply chain. So why is it so difficult to agree on a "globally acceptable" definition?

Sustainability has traditionally been framed around maintaining a balance between social, environmental, and economic factors that minimize negative impacts in the long term.

These areas around sustainability are impacted by the geographic location and culture in which a person lives, which makes a universally acceptable definition nearly impossible. Multi–faceted words like sustainability are very difficult to objectively evaluate, and even more difficult to regulate because they are not well–defined, universal, or have well-established measures.

Woolies Surges Ahead in Retail Beef Market Share Battle
Dateline: 03/05/14, Source: By Jon Condon, Beef Central

Woolworths is the big winner in the latest retail beef market share survey conducted on industry’s behalf by Nielsen Homescan.

The nation's largest supermarket chain now operates 920 stores across Australia, adding close to 100 new sites to its portfolio since 2010, and the growth is clearly evident in latest market share statistics.

For the rolling quarter ended January 21, Woolies lifted its share of national retail beef sales to 33.5 percent – its best result in at least three years, and possibly ever – representing a surge of 1.7pc share in the past six months.

It appears to be the first time that Woolworths as controlled more than one third of the nation's domestic retail beef sales, by value.

Biggest rival Coles basically held its ground in the latest survey, while the advance by Woolworths appears to have come at the expense of independent retail butchers and second-tier retail chains. Deep discounting on selected red meat lines, including mince, plus heavy promotion appear to be delivering market share to Woolworths.

Buyers Eye Farm–Assured Lamb
Dateline:03/05/14, Source: By Catherine Miller, Farm Weekly

An increasing number of consumers want to know how and where their food is being produced and have confidence it has been grown with good animal welfare, sound environmental management and high food safety standards.

This was the catalyst for Australia's largest meat company JBS Australia to implement a customer–driven voluntary On–Farm Assurance program.

Four years on, many of the producers across four states who have signed up have stuck with the QA program, looking for recognition for producing a top quality product.

Bright Signs Ahead for Cattle with JBS Australia to Re-Open its 35000 Cattle Feedlot Near Griffith in NSW
Dateline: 03/12/14, Source: By Fiona Myers, Weekly Times Now

There are bright signs for southern Australia's cattle industry.

JBS Australia has announced it will re–open its 35,000 cattle feedlot near Griffith in NSW. It comes as cattle markets continue to struggle due to northern drought conditions.

Staff are being recruited and some cattle are expected to be in the Prime City feedlot within a couple of weeks. JBS Australia director and head of corporate and regulatory John Berry said it was good news for the beef industry.

"We expect the assets to be back on line by the end of March," he said.

Beef Advocacy Canada Rolled Out
Dateline: 03/07/14, Source: By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com

New Program Focuses on Cultivating 'Beef Advocates' for Canada's Beef Cattle Industry. A new program will make it easier for beef farmers to share their story – the story about Canadian beef.

Beef Advocacy Canada was launched at the Canadian Cattlemen's Association's (CCA) Annual General Meeting on March 6, 2014.

The program aims to provide industry supporters – or in this case "advocates", with the necessary tools to support the beef industry in a digital age.

Beef farmers and ranchers stand to benefit from the program as it's designed to help them feel comfortable talking to the media about a wide range of topics related to the beef cattle industry.

Over the course of about a year, there's been growing excitement within the industry in anticipation of the launch, and it appears that it's translating into results.

I'll Have the Burger
Dateline: 03/11/14, By Dan Loy, CattleNetwork.com
                                
A recent report by Rabobank has caught the attention of the beef industry. The report "Ground Beef Nation: The Effect of Changing Consumer Tastes and Preferences on the U.S. Beef Industry," documents the growing demand of hamburgers in the American diet.

I think we all have witnessed this. In my generation "comfort food" has shifted from roast beef and mashed potatoes to a burger and fries. In Iowa this is celebrated each year by the Iowa Beef Industry Council through their "Iowa’s Best Burger Contest."

The Rabobank report notes that while conventional wisdom indicates ground beef comprises 50% of our beef consumption, their data suggests that it may now be as high as 62%. Ground beef comes from trimmings from fed beef processing, non-fed beef (cull cows and bulls) and imported beef. With a herd expansion underway, fewer cull cows are coming to market so ground beef is in short supply.

To meet the need for ground beef, more end meat primals (chucks and rounds) from grain fed cattle may need to become hamburger rather than roasts.

The problem they note is that because our production system is designed for a quality eating experience of the middle meats (steak), the system is not the most efficient for the production of ground beef.

In the News

Self-funded Oakey Methane Project Looks to Slash Millions Off Energy Bill
Dateline: 03/10/14, Source: By Jon Condon, BEEF Central

A major new methane gas collection project has been launched at Nippon Meat Packers’ Oakey abattoir in Queensland – promising to slash the plant’s annual gas energy bill by close to half, as well as greatly reducing its carbon footprint.

The project will focus on the use of a latest-generation COHRAL (Covered, High-Rate Anaerobic Lagoon) technology, which will extract green energy biogas from the plant’s waste–water streams to replace large quantities of natural gas currently bought by the abattoir.

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane turned the first sod on Friday as part of Oakey Holdings' new waste-to-energy technology project. With him are Oakey general manager Pat Gleeson, right, and CST Wastewater Solutions director, Michael Bambridge.

Significantly, the project is entirely self-funded, and did not attract support under the former Federal Government’s carbon abatement grants.

Tackling Climate Change Through Livestock
 Source: Food and Agriculture Organizations(FAO)of the United Nations

An important emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), the livestock sector also has a large potential to reduce its emissions. This is the main conclusion drawn by the report "Tackling climate change through livestock". This newly released report provides the most comprehensive global assessment made to–date of the livestock sector's GHG emissions and its mitigation potential.

The report also presents a detailed assessment of the magnitude, the sources and pathways of emissions from different production systems and supply chains. Relying on life cycle assessment, statistical analysis and scenario building, it identifies concrete options to reduce emissions.

It comes at a time when the world needs to urgently reduce GHG emissions to avert catastrophic climate change. The livestock sector can make an important contribution to such international efforts by offsetting some of the sector's emission increases, which are expected as demand for livestock products is projected to grow by 70 percent by 2050.  [Download PDF]

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ruminant Supply Chains
Source: Food and Agriculture Organizations(FAO)of the United Nations

In decades to come, the global demand for livestock products will continue to increase driven by growing populations, incomes and urbanization. As a consequence the sector needs to produce more but in a context of increasing natural resource scarcity and challenges posed by climate change.

Agriculture: Steps to Sustainable Livestock
Dateline: 03/05/14, Source: Nature

With improved breeding and cultivation, ruminant animals can yield food that is better for people and the planet, say Mark C. Eisler, Michael R. F. Lee and colleagues.

The need for efficient food production has never been greater. One in seven humans is undernourished. Urbanization and biofuel production are reducing land availability, and climate change, lack of water and soil degradation are decreasing harvests. Over the past decade, cereal yields per hectare have fallen in one–quarter of countries. Meanwhile, developing nations and the growing world population are demanding more animal protein.

The increasing consumption of animal protein is generally considered at odds with Earth's ability to feed its people. The 1 billion tonnes of wheat, barley, oats, rye, maize (corn), sorghum and millet poured annually into livestock troughs could feed some 3.5 billion humans. But such reasoning discounts the health benefits of eating modest amounts of meat and the fact that foraging animals can consume foods that humans cannot eat.

 

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MORE GLOBAL NEWS...

 

Eight Strategies for Efficient and Sustainable Livestock Farming
Dateline: 03/06/14, source: Farming UK

Eight strategies to make cows, sheep and other cud–chewing, or ruminant, livestock a more sustainable part of the food supply are outlined by Rothamsted Research scientists in a Comment piece in Nature this week. The Comment was led by Mark Eisler and Michael Lee, University of Bristol UK and Graeme Martin, University of Western Australia, Perth.

Raising animals for milk and meat is often considered at odds with the challenge of feeding a growing human population, but there are health benefits to eating animal protein. Furthermore, cows, sheep and some other livestock can be fed grass and crop residues that humans cannot eat, the authors point out. "We must figure out how to keep livestock in ways that work best for individuals, communities and the planet," say the authors.

Working to boost yields from local breeds makes more sense in the long term than importing breeds that are successful elsewhere.

Comments on Understanding of Livestock
Dateline: 03/22/14, Source: Economic and Political Weekly

Any analysis of India's livestock sector must take into account the region-specific growth of the sector, micro-level economic viability of production, and the role of women's unpaid labour, among other factors. All these are crucial to understand whether India's livestock sector will grow sustainably in the future.

D K Desai retired as professor from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

"Livestock for Higher, Sustainable and Inclusive Agricultural Growth" by Pratap S Birthal and Digvijay S Negi (EPW, 30 June 2012) was a very comprehensive paper describing the livestock situation in India after the reforms of 1990s. The demand for livestock products increased considerably in the post–reform period. This benefited both the organised and the large unorganised livestock sectors.

While describing the performance of the livestock sector's contribution to higher sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth, it is surprising that the authors do not mention the "First White Revolution" and the launch of the "Second White Revolution" by the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The authors have attempted to show that livestock activity in India is pro–poor and contributes more than even the crop–growing sector to the value of output of the agricultural sector. They argue that it helps in poverty reduction and it will help reach the target of 4% growth of agriculture, which has not been achieved since the Ninth Five–Year Plan.

April 1 Lecture to Cover Secrets of Soil
Soruce: KTICRadio.com

"When it comes to building healthy, productive soils, remember," says Ray Archuleta in one of his many soil health videos, "do not disturb."

The charismatic spokesperson for the unseen secrets of soil, Archuleta visits Iowa State University this year as the 2014 Shivvers Memorial Lecture speaker. His presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 1 in the Sun Room of the ISU Memorial Union. The series is coordinated by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Archuleta, "The Soil Guy," is a conservation agronomist for USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service in Greensboro, North Carolina. In the 23 years he has worked for the USDA, he has promoted soil–building practices that improve water quality, reduce erosion, maintain soil micro-ecosystems, and ultimately boost the productivity of crops.

During his lecture at ISU he will discuss how modern-day farming practices that improve soil health allow rural communities "to absorb disturbance and maintain function" into the future.

Beefing Up Northern Livestock Transport System
Dateline: 03/08/14, North Queensland Register

Australia's livestock industry can be beefed up by potential reductions in transport costs, according to new research from the CSIRO.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss launched the findings, including a suite of tools to analyse the costs and benefits of infrastructure investments in the northern livestock industry, at ABARES in Canberra.

Mr Truss said the study highlighted some inexpensive opportunities that were good for a quick fix, as well as opportunities for longer term savings.

"While infrastructure investments will typically reduce producers' costs, there has been no simple way to evaluate the whole supply chain to ensure investments maximise whole–of–industry productivity," Mr Truss said.

This study, which was jointly funded by the Australian, Queensland, Western Australian and Northern Territory governments, and developed by CSIRO, addresses this critical information gap.

The Beef Industry's Ultimate Goal Should Be A Satisfied Consumer
Dateline:03/09/14,By Dave Sjeklocha, Beef Magazine

Before starting a project, you should determine your ultimate goal and remain focused on that goal. Our ultimate goal as beef producers should be a satisfied consumer.

Begin with the end in mind. This is one of the principles Stephen Covey mentions in his "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." This "habit" can be defined and applied in several different ways, but it basically means that before starting a project, you should determine your ultimate goal and remain focused on that goal.

That sounds simple and logical enough, but what is our ultimate goal as beef producers? Of course, sustainability comes to mind; and in order to be sustainable, we must be profitable. I would submit, though, that these are merely means to the end of our ultimate goal, as our ultimate goal should be a satisfied consumer.

Our consumers have indicated that they desire a deeper understanding of our production system. They want to know about our practices, our feeds, the products we use to keep our cattle healthy and efficient, and the procedures we perform on them. They also want assurances that our cattle are humanely raised.

Farmers Warn of Beef Industry Debt Crisis as Asst Treasurer Holds Talks in Queensland
Dateline: 03/10/14, Source:ABC Online

For northern Australia's beef industry the problems began with the live export ban to Indonesia and graziers say the months of parched conditions since have emptied their bank accounts. As the drought drags on in Queensland and New South Wales, they are again warning of a debt crisis. Transcript

Bid to Develop Northern Ag CRC Gains Momentum
Dateline: 03/11/14, Source: By James Nason, BEEF Central

A bid to secure Federal Government support for a 10 year, $150 million Cooperative Research Centre for Northern Agriculture has received a boost after winning the backing of the Queensland Department of Agriculture (QDAFF).

The bid is being led by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and now has the support of the Western Australian, Northern Territory and Queensland Governments, along with the CSIRO.

A bid to launch another CRC for the Northern Beef industry was also being progressed but its proponents last week made a decision not to proceed with the proposal.

University of Queensland director of Veterinary Research, Professor Michael Holland, told Beef Central that a decision was made last Monday not to proceed with the bid, which had aimed to increase the profitability of the northern beef industry.

Professor Holland said the decision had been taken for several reasons which he was unable to discuss on the record.

"The Northern Agricultural CRC bid is proceeding and I wish them the very best because research focused on the north is strongly needed if things are to improve," Professor Holland said.

High Hopes for New Forage Beef Centre, But 'Fickle Governments' a Worry
Dateline: 03/11/14, Source: By Jennifer Blair, Alberta Express

Boosting pasture productivity and lowering winter feed costs.

A deal to finally make the proposed Alberta Forage Beef Centre in Lacombe a reality can’t come soon enough for its backers, who have been pushing government for a funding commitment since 2011.

"We're in the process of getting everyone together in the same room to negotiate the terms of an agreement," Karen Schmid, beef production specialist with Alberta Beef Producers, said at the recent Alberta Forage Industry Network annual general meeting.

Partners in the forage and beef sectors agree there's a need for "concerted work in forages" to fill the gap left by the closure of the Western Forage Beef Centre.

"Forage is a very long-term commitment, and it’s not that sexy," said Schmid. "There's been a decline in the research and extension capacity in the forage areas."

Genetics Group Offers Free Feeder Profit Calculator
Dateline: 03/13/14, Source: International Genetic Solutions,CattleNetwork.com

In an effort to better serve the commercial beef industry, International Genetic Solutions  and its partners have developed a tool used to determine relative value of feeder calves based on genetic, environmental and management factors. International Genetic Solutions is a cooperation of companies, such as breed associations, whose primary focus is the success of the commercial cattleman.

The Feeder Profit Calculator will reward and incentivize better genetic and management practices.

The calculator weighs all economic factors and traits on a set of feeder calves according to how much money each factor will make a cattle buyer. The calculator is basically a breakeven calculator on steroids. It determines the overall quality of a set of calves and differentiates them from other calves.

The calculator is able to adjust the value of calves based on market conditions that affect the cost of gain, value of feedlot calves, the live price of calves, etc. The calculator weighs the genetic components of traits such as feed intake, growth, marbling, yield grade, and carcass weight as well as management and environmental factors such as the effects of vaccinations, weaning, deworming, initial weight, etc.

Beef Farmers Angered Over Harsher Penalties
Dateline: 03/12/14, Source: FarmersWeekly

Furious beef farmers have claimed harsher penalties for out–of–spec cattle brought in by processors overnight are damaging the industry.

Tougher penalties have been reported for bulls over 16 months, non-farm assured cattle, those over 30 months and those that were underweight.

Irish–based processor ABP has been singled out for bringing in a new payment grid in February that raises the deduction levels for out–of–spec stock.
   

 

                    
Carcasses below 240kg could face deductions of 60p/kg, those below 220–230kg can suffer a 70p/kg penalty, and P–grade cattle face deductions of 150p/kg.

National Beef Association chief executive Chris Mallon said the sudden changes affected farmers' ability to make a profit, particularly those finishing dairy stock.

He said one farmer with more than 1,000 black–and–white cattle could be facing deductions of £150 a head which would have a huge financial impact.

"There is no trust now at all. It feels to beef producers that [the processors] are taking advantage of a temporary match in demand, not even an oversupply," he said.

Sask. Cattle Producers Benefit From South Korea Free Trade Deal
Dateline:03/11/1, By Meaghan Craig, Globalnews.ca

A historic free trade deal has been struck between Canada and South Korea. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his South Korean counterpart say the agreement will be a major boost for Canadian exporters.

This news was welcomed by the Canadian beef industry as it still recovers from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) more than a decade later.

"It's another market and another market means maximizing the value of the animal and at the end of the day that means more value for the producer," said Craig Douglas, CEO of the Saskatchewan Cattlemen's Association.

This will be our country's first free trade agreement with an Asian country.

"Much of the world's economic growth over the next generation will be in Asia with this deal today we have open the door to opportunities that will boost Canadian prosperity now and for decades to come," said Harper on Tuesday.

DNA Test Presents Possible Solution for Beef Industry's Dehorning Procedures
Dateline:03/16/14. By Pip Courtney,  ABC Local

Dehorning, the confronting and bloody procedure many in the beef industry feared would be its next animal welfare flashpoint, could soon be a thing of the past.

                        A $25 DNA test, which identifies whether a bull carries the gene for horns or not, means producers can now confidently and quickly breed horned animals out of their herds.

"Using normal breeding practices it would take 39 years, but the new Poll Gene Marker test reduces that down to eight years," former Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) CEO Scott Hansen said.

"This is a great breakthrough for the industry. It's been a really transformational piece of work."

A DNA test was released four years ago with one gene marker, but there were accuracy problems with some breeds.

The new test identifies 10 gene markers for polledness – animals born without horns – and has nearly 100 per cent accuracy across all breeds.

The RSPCA, which wants dehorning phased out, has praised the beef industry for investing grower levies in animal welfare research.



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