As the world moves towards a projected global population of 9.6 billion by 2050, the question looms increasingly larger: how are the farmers of the world going to feed 9.6 billion people while conserving the earth’s natural endowments of soil, water and air?
The question is at the centre of concerted discussion, consultation and joint analyses on many levels -- from the global and national to the regional and local. The global livestock sector is moving to respond.Back To Top
On a world level, the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) began in 2010 as a partnership of a broad range of sector stakeholders. Currently hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, GASL includes the usual mix of inter-governmental agencies, national governments, academia, and civil society NGOs. The full involvement of industry – livestock producers and meat processors – is new for the FAO and incredibly valuable to the process.
With one billion of the world’s poor deriving at least part of their livelihood from livestock, no other sector is more vitally important in developing countries. Further, as we move toward 2050, the demand for livestock products is expected to increase by 70%.
In grappling with the biggest global challenge of our era, it is the full meat supply chain that remains at the fundamental core of change. The challenge may be on a global scale, but it is the changes in practice of the farmer, livestock producer, feed seller, meat processor, supermarket and restaurant that result in advancement at the global level.
“The Global Agenda is a partnership that promotes concerted action by livestock sector stakeholder groups to support livelihoods, long-term food security and economic development by simultaneously addressing global food security and health; equity and growth; and resources and climate,” says Neil Fraser, Chair, GASL. “As such it is becoming the 'recognised platform' for discussion and initiation of actions related to global livestock sector issues.”Back To Top
In 2012 the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) was established. Founding members included more than 40 producer associations, meat processors, producers, civil society constituents, retailers, and foodservice operators. Key to the new organization was support form McDonald’s, World Wildlife Federation, Walmart, Cargill, JBS, Elanco, Merck, and Solidaridad.
The GRSB established Five Sustainable Beef Principles, including criteria on Natural Resources, People and Community, Animal Health and Welfare, Food and Efficiency and Innovation. The principles and criteria were purposely written in broad strokes to provide a common baseline understanding of sustainable beef that national roundtables and other initiatives can use to meet their needs.
The organization provides advice on how producers can meet the criteria on a national and regional basis, by assisting aligned beef roundtables to develop their own standards for sustainable beef. Groups have already been formed in Canada, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico. The United States, Australia, European Union, Argentina, and Paraguay have groups in development.
“The guiding principle of GRSB remains local solutions that have global impact,” says Cameron Bruett, Chair. “We view our efforts as an empowerment exercise for producers and other beef value chain participants around the globe to make on-the-ground improvements that will lead to a more sustainable future for us all.”
Individual companies do not have to wait for the countries in which they operate to develop similar roundtables. Instead, they can simply adopt the GRSB principles and pass them down their supply chain.Back To Top
In May 2014, McDonald’s announced that it had chosen Canada as the site of its first “sustainable beef” pilot project, which will see the company begin sourcing verified sustainable beef in 2016. That decision was based in part on the work already done by cattle producers and beef processors across Canada.
In 2001 the Canadian cattle industry implemented a traceability program. The National Cattle ID Program requires cattle to be permanently identified with bar code tags upon leaving their farm of origin.
For many years, provinces have recognized and awarded producer performance in terms of the Verified Beef Program, Beef InfoExchange System (BIXS) and the Environmental Farm Plan Program. On the national level, each year the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association recognizes environmental achievements with its Environmental Stewardship Award.
As well, provincial cattle associations across the country have long-established animal care and environmental committees. When in 2014 the Canadian industry established the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB), it constituted a bringing together at the national level of efforts that were already underway at the provincial level. Its Vision is: The Canadian beef industry is recognized globally to be economically viable, environmentally sound and socially responsible. The organization is inclusive, representing multi-stakeholders in the beef value chain as well different perspectives around animal care, the environment and the economy.
The CRSB is currently undertaking a benchmark study to establish a comprehensive baseline assessment of the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of beef production in Canada. The study will provide a Life Cycle Assessment (Environmental and Social Impacts) for the entire beef supply chain from farm to consumer. The study will provide the road map for the further development of Canada’s sustainability initiatives.
Work is about to commence on development of Sustainability Indicators for the cattle and beef sectors – providing the measurement system to support forward movement. The CRSB will also focus on communicating outside of the industry – building confidence and seeking examples of best practices that can applied throughout the value chain.
The Canadian Round Table on Sustainable beef does not work in a vacuum. The CRSB will act as the primary industry liaison for McDonald’s Sustainable Beef Pilot Project. The lessons learned will be available for adaptation and adoption by all industry players across Canada. The CRSB will also work closely with Canadian legislators and regulators in support of the industry’s sustainability goals. At every step, the CRSB will work in conjunction with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to ensure that global and Canadian approaches to Sustainability are consistent and effective.
“The Canadian beef industry is on the forefront of defining what sustainable beef looks like here in Canada,” says Cherie Copithorne-Barnes, Chair of CRSB. “The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef looks forward to working with all of our stakeholders, focusing on the common motto of “Continuous Improvement” which is found in both our national Roundtable as well as the Global Roundtable.”Back To Top
Canadian Rocky Mountain Beef (CRMB) ensures that its cattle production, beef processing and transportation programs adhere to recognized Canadian and Global sustainability practices.
Our cattle are raised within an intensive feeding system. Additionally, all our cattle are raised under the same veterinary health and nutrition programs, which are designed to optimize both animal health and production efficiencies. The combination of production system and production management reduces Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions.
Our product is transported by the lowest cost competitive transportation systems available on land and on sea. Where possible, land transportation from our processing facilities to North American ocean ports is based on Canada’s world class rail system. When use of rail is not possible, back-haul opportunities are used for all truck movements. Our use of ocean vessels for international movements is well recognized as the least GhG intensive form of transportation available for movement of agricultural and food products globally.
Canadian Rocky Mountain Beef takes seriously our commitment to long term sustainability.