Global Sustainability

Beef Industry Can Better Communicate Successes

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Sustainable beef management methods differ based on where cattle are raised. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo by Jim Patrico)

The 2021 meeting of the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef, like most things these days, found its way onto a digital forum last week. Texas rancher and president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), Bob McCan, opened the meeting with a welcome to participants from around the world. He shared his thoughts on the importance of sustainability within the beef industry, noting his is the fifth generation to manage the cattle operation in south Texas.

"The willingness to adapt and embrace change is most important to the survival of ranching enterprises," said McCan. He noted that his family operation at Victoria, Texas, has emphasized managed rotational grazing programs, improved and monitored natural resources on the land, and managed wildlife populations for many years. Pointing to GRSB's 10-year plan, discussed during the Roundtable, McCan said those goals going forward would be a critical and effective tool for constant and steady improvement in the cattle business, as well as for natural resources.

"We hope to see these voluntary goals implemented over the next decade in a way that is respectful of private property rights, but also meaningful and ambitious so that we may all see truly positive impacts in our world and for the future," he said.

The goals include five priority areas: natural resources, people and community, food, animal health and welfare and efficiency and innovation.

Ruaraidh Petre, GRSB executive director, said it was clear in 2019 that the GRSB needed to formulate its global goals. In doing so, he noted, it became clear that communication needed to be prioritized within the beef industry in order to share successes moving forward.

In GRSB's "Strategic Plan 2030," priorities include the need to: (1) Establish global goals for the GRSB Network; (2) Communicate that beef is a trusted part of a thriving food system; (3) Support the Roundtable Network; (4) Develop an information system to report progress on GRSB's global goals; and (5) Develop and strengthen partnerships to meet the global goals.

Petre said during the conference: "Communicating our successes is as important as acknowledging that more work always has to be done. We are committed to continuous improvement, and we know that climate change and animal welfare, and other issues, all demand our attention."

He said it is increasingly important to communicate the complexity of the food system, and that no one should accept or expect livestock producers alone to bear the costs of sustainable production systems. Petre stressed there are always people willing to put forth wholesale changes, without knowing what it takes to create that change.

"We will fail if we don't embrace the complexities that are involved in reaching our goals," he said.

Today's GRSB includes representatives from 24 countries where beef is produced. To see the strategic plan in its entirety, go to:….

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Victoria Myers