On May 3, 2018, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) opened a 60-day public comment period on the group’s Sustainability Framework.
The USRSB Sustainability Framework is a set of resources developed to assist ranchers, cattle auction markets, feedyards, packers, processors, and retail and food service organizations in their efforts to continuously improve the sustainability of U.S. beef.
“The Framework was developed from the collective efforts of more than 200 individuals who make up the USRSB and represent all segments of the beef value chain from producers to retailers, including non-governmental organizations and academic institutions,” said Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, JBS USA Sustainability Director and 2018 – 2019 USRSB Chair. “The USRSB membership has invested more than three years in developing these resources, which we believe will serve as an invaluable tool in enhancing U.S. beef sustainability and increasing economic opportunities in rural landscapes across America.”
The USRSB Framework highlights key areas important to the sustainability of beef and examines unique opportunities for each segment of the beef value-chain to identify opportunities to improve and reflect on their individual progress. Most importantly, the Framework is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is designed to address the needs of the diverse beef communities who produce, buy and sell beef.
The key areas identified by the USRSB as being important to the sustainability of beef are referred to as High-Priority Indicators. These include:
- Animal health and well-being
- Efficiency and yield
- Employee safety and well-being
- Land resources
- Water resources
- Air and greenhouse gas emissions
Sustainability Metrics and Sustainability Assessment Guides serve as the segment-specific elements of the Framework tailored to address the unique challenges in the cow-calf, cattle auction market, feedyard, packer and processor, and retail and foodservice sectors.
How important is this new framework and sustainability assessment guides? HMI Advisory Council member and USRSB member William Burnidge, who is also The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Sustainable Grazing noted: “This is the first time the beef industry has publicly stepped up in support of actions to improve on the status quo. Furthermore, the guidance for the Land, Water, and Air indicators are all built on grazing planning and adaptive management and are explicit that wildlife, wildlife habitat, etc are important considerations.” The potential for this framework to influence thousands of producers is very high because the players at the USRSB table include large beef distribution companies who will want to make sure their suppliers are providing sustainable beef.
The USRSB Public Comment Period will end July 1. To learn more about the USRSB Sustainability Framework or to participate in the 60-day public comment period, visit www.USRSBFramework.org.
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