Critics Respond to U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Framework

Fifty organizations have signed-on to a letter outlining flaws they see in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef's sustainability framework. ( U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef )

In a detailed letter to the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), critics claim the platform presented for review earlier this year fails to “address key structural issues related to sustainability and the most damaging impacts of the cow-calf and feedyard phases of production.”

Fifty organizations signed on to the letter, including the National Grassfed Organization, Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, GMO Free USA, Friends of the Earth, Food and Water Watch, several Catholic organizations, and the Organization for Competitive Markets.

The letter states the USRSB platform “will not help the U.S. beef sector — either individual producers or the entire industry — realize its great potential to minimize the severe environmental, climate, public health, animal welfare and other impacts of poorly managed cow-calf and feedyard operations.”

The framework is a set of resources, developed over more than three years, to help the supply chain from ranchers to retailers continuously improve the sustainability of U.S. beef. The comment period ended July 1.

According to the USRSB, the 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, and 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.

However, the critics of the framework stated in the letter on June 27, 2018, “Most of these benefits are generated by well-managed grass-based and grass-finished livestock systems—yet the framework does not explicitly recognize, incentivize or otherwise support these far more sustainable grass-based and grass-finished systems.”

While supporting grass-based livestock systems, the critics also denounced what they described as USRSB’s “failure to address the consolidated structure of the U.S. beef marketplace, which depresses producer prices for conventional meat and keeps sustainable beef from being produced and reaching consumers.”

Comments
Submitted by Albrecht Glatzle on Tue, 08/07/2018 - 09:33

Did the US Cattle Breeders make a big mistake by creating the US-Roundtable of Sustainable Beef? By doing so, they offered a platform for all kind of critics and invited the wider public to comment on what they are not entitled to. How can an NGO, an ecclesiastic organization or any other lobby group appreciate correctly an industrial branch they are not involved to at all?
- I knew before that vegetarian and vegan groups do see health problems in consuming meat. Other nutritionists do argue exactly in the opposite way.
- I knew before that the Sierra Club as well as several ecclesiastic groups do see the planet's climate at risk from livestock husbandry although serious science has irrefutably shown that this is a myth.
- I knew before that Grass Fed Beef supporters (and I have a lot of sympathy for them) do see critically feedlot systems.

I am asking myself if it wasn't better for the whole livestock industry (the cattle, the employees, the consumers) if an unqualified public does not focus on our daily work. Just like in politics there will always be critics. But there is no need to invite critics and to give them a platform for what they are lobbying for, just as does the USRSB.