Beef industry considers next steps in sustainability push

Beef Central, 09/04/2015


Chairman of the Red Meat Advisory Council, Ross Keane, confirmed that the RMAC Board last week received the results from a study it commissioned examining the beef industry’s credentials as a responsible caretaker of the environmental, livestock and human resources under its management.

The review – funded through Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and undertaken by Deloitte’s – assessed the beef industry’s past and present performance and identified available data to enable potential indicators to be developed to assess and track the industry’s sustainability performance into the future.

Well-respected beef industry identity, Jim Cudmore, led a small team to examine the report and provide advice on how best to proceed with the further development of, and consultation around, measures that the industry can potentially use to demonstrate its historical and current achievements, as well in identifying what areas require special attention into the future.

“Importantly, this is an industry-led initiative, the timing around which has been deliberately aligned with RMAC’s concurrent efforts in developing the red meat and livestock industry’s fourth five-year Meat Industry Strategic Plan, or MISP4”, Mr Keane said.

“The work around sustainability that we are co-ordinating on behalf of the Australian beef industry falls very neatly into MISP4. Indeed, MISP4 is being developed to frame the key components of broad-base sustainability for the red meat and livestock industry as a whole, and this in itself will provide direction and consistency to the efforts of individual industries in the future”, Mr Keane added

“While it is the beef industry leading the way in this area at the moment, we need to ensure that we have an appropriate framework for other industries to follow if and as they choose in the future. Whether it’s tomorrow or in ten years’ time, it’s important that our industries are well-equipped to respond to any messages or concerns coming back from consumers”, Mr Keane said.

“From an RMAC perspective, we will now look to support our beef industry constituents in developing a suitable timeline to review and consult industry and external stakeholders on a range of proposed indicators for guiding and reporting on the economic, environmental and social aspects of how we do business.

“Across-the-board, be it for the beef sector or for the red meat and livestock industry as a whole, we are committed to using meaningful and practical indicators, developed through consultation, to underpin our sustainability credentials and ensure their continuous improvement” Mr Keane said.

Source: Red Meat Advisory Council


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  1. John Wigand, 10/04/2015

    Any assumptions that beef production (or any form of production that relies on a natural resource base) is sustainable by default is akin to suggesting that there’s actually something common in commonsense.

    No doubt large numbers, perhaps even the majority, of beef production systems are sustainable…but not all of them. So I’m puzzled as to why there is section of the industry (I’d hazard a guess that it’s the noisy minority…again) who feel that making sure our industry is setup to give evidence to, and continually improve, its sustainability is somehow a threat?

    This is not about putting people out of business because they’re in drought. It’s about making sure we are, individually and as an industry, more resilient (and better able to respond to customer preferences) in the long-term.

    I can vouch for the fact in my own operation there are areas (of sustainability) that I do well…and there are other areas where I have room to improve. I can also vouch for the fact that, whether we like it or not, consumers are taking a much more active interest in how we operate on-farm.

    My family’s been farming for five generations…and I want that to continue. How I run the place now is different to how my father ran it, very different to how my grandfather did, and very very different to what my great grandfather did. What was needed to make our place sustainable in the early 20th century is very different to what I’m doing to keep it that way in 2015. If passing the place onto the next generation means I’m going to have to increasingly align what I do with consumer expectations…then I would rather know that now, and I would rather have a good, consistent system in place that I can work with.

    Personally, I’m not threatened by this, nor do I see it as “someone in industry” suggesting we’re all unsustainable. The fact is that some of us are sustainable, some of us aren’t yet but could be with some changes here and there…and some of us might not ever get there.

    If we’re to stay in business in the long-term, then frankly I’m all for industry investing to help me understand the key drivers of sustainability in my business, as well as making sure – when consumers ask to see evidence of sustainability – that we have the information available.


  2. Paul D. Butler, 09/04/2015

    Once you accept the idea that beef production is not sustainable or that you need to prove beef production sustainability……under some entities guidelines…….you have lost the battle.

    Nature and natural processes have proven to be sustainable for tens of thousands of years……..why would we accept that certain men have decided otherwise. That arrogance is unbelievable.

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