Major food and retail companies, cattle producers, veterinarians, scientists, and non-governmental organizations today adopted the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework to strengthen the sustainability of U.S. beef. The Framework demonstrates the commitment of the industry to continuously improve how U.S. beef is raised, processed and distributed.
The U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is a product of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), a multi-stakeholder organization whose 116 members represent 30 percent of the nation’s cattle herd, more than 20 billion pounds of beef processed, and more than 100 million consumers. The Framework leverages individual opportunities for continuous improvement in sustainability unique to businesses and operations who raise, process or sell beef in the U.S. It allows for individual operations to voluntarily assess their sustainability efforts.
“Today, the U.S. beef industry serves a delicious, healthy and sustainable product,” said Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, JBS-USA Director of Sustainability and 2018-2019 USRSB chair. “The U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is about telling that story to consumers by improving transparency, as well as exploring opportunities to more responsibly use resources, raise animals, and care for the people who help beef get to the American dinner table.”
The U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework was developed by beef farmers and ranchers, feedyard operators, livestock auction markets, packers and processors, retail and foodservice companies, veterinarians, NGOs, and other stakeholders who share a mission to advance, support and communicate U.S. beef sustainability. By design, the Framework applies to any business model, region, or production system regardless of past or current sustainability efforts.
“Our organization is confident in the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework,” said Stackhouse-Lawson. “Over the course of four years, these resources underwent seven internal and public comment periods, which received an abundance of positive feedback, and recognized the ability of the Framework to address beef sustainability in a meaningful way.”
The USRSB also announced its intent to introduce the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework to stakeholders across the nation throughout 2019. The organization identified outreach events including national trade association meetings for the cattle, grocer, and retail associations as well as smaller regional meetings to capture a diverse audience.
The outreach provides a platform to unveil the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework and explores elements including the Framework’s six High-Priority Indicators, areas most important to the sustainability of beef. These areas include water resources, land resources, animal health and well-being, employee safety and well-being, efficiency and yield and air and greenhouse gas emissions. The planned outreach also explores additional resources that help individuals and companies achieve sector-specific Metrics – practices that demonstrate sustainability across High-Priority Indicators – and Sustainability Assessment Guides – guidance documents to help operations and businesses achieve Metrics while ensuring operational and financial success.
This outreach will be led by the incoming chair-elect, Ben Weinheimer.
“Sustainability means something different to each of us, a challenge USRSB embraced,” said Weinheimer, vice-president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. “As we roll out the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework throughout 2019, our goal is to assist the industry in recognizing those differences and bringing forth realistic approaches and opportunities for individual operations to highlight areas of value unique to them.”
The USRSB will not oversee the implementation of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework in the marketplace. However, it understands many of these programs may originate on their own and encourages market-driven initiatives.
“Market-place implementation is not the purpose of the Roundtable, nor are regulations,” said Weinheimer. “The Roundtable made a very important choice early on not to mandate standards or verify individual stakeholder performance. USRSB is focused on building trust with consumers and helping educate the beef community about sustainability.”