Packers and Processors

Beef Sector Challenged to Meet New Sustainability Modules

Victoria G Myers
By  Victoria G. Myers , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
Packers and processors of beef have new sustainability guidelines to help them meet standards under the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) announced new sustainability measures for U.S. companies in beef's packing and processing sector. This is the first time the sector has been provided a set of measures, specific to its operations and businesses.

This is the fourth set of sustainability modules the USRSB released, with all aimed at "supporting actions that can improve the sustainability of operations and businesses throughout the U.S. beef value chain."

Paula Alexander, animal welfare manager at Tyson Foods, said the company is excited to implement the modules and to encourage packer/processor managers and employees to participate.

"The packer/processor modules were developed with input from industry members to specifically address the needs of the sector and to put sustainability concepts into real-world terms for practical implementation," Alexander explained. The goal of the modules is to help identify areas for continuous improvement throughout the beef value chain.

The new modules prioritize animal health and well-being, employee safety and well-being, and environmental strategies in the packer/processor sector.

-- ANIMAL WELFARE. Here the goal is to promote accountability and transparency. Ensuring humane treatment of animals remains a priority, along with advancement in the area of animal health and well-being.

The USRSB noted in the new module materials that packer/processing facilities "should be audited at least annually by second- or third-party auditors with an accreditation relevant to animal health and well-being. Tracking animal health and well-being measurements that are meaningful to the company or facility over time can give insight into areas for improvement."

-- EMPLOYEE SAFETY. The focus in this area includes attention to reduced employee injuries, improved safety planning/culture, fostering a greater understanding of issues surrounding employee safety and associated risks, and collaboration on employee safety issues in the beef value chain.

-- RESOURCE STEWARDSHIP. Packers/processors are called on to look at water resource stewardship and other environmental factors. The USRSB noted location of facilities is a key factor in managing water resources, that electricity and other water consumption activities must be considered in evaluating overall consumption, and that end-of-life landfill disposal must take into account impacts on water and land resources.

These new modules for packers/processors follow the release of sustainability modules for cow-calf operators, backgrounders, feedyards and auction markets. Next slated for release are modules for retail and foodservice. To see all the available modules, go to

Victoria Myers can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @myersPF

Victoria Myers