What does sustainable beef mean to retailers, special interest groups and customers?
Their views are now being canvassed to help develop the first-ever Australian Beef Sustainability Framework.
For the past three months the steering group responsible for developing the sustainability framework has been consulting extensively with the cattle industry.
It is now focusing on consultation with downstream beef users and public groups to help guide development of the Framework.
“Consultation will help identify priority areas for industry – from on-farm, feedlot, transport and processing perspectives,” sustainability steering group chair Prue Bondfield said.
“From there we will develop indicators to track performance using existing data sets.
“The Framework will not establish or endorse measurement systems at an individual business level.”
“The Framework will be pre-competitive; it’s about the whole industry and being able to paint a clear and honest picture of sustainable beef production.
“It’s not a marketing exercise, we need to acknowledge where there is work to do for longevity and prosperity of the sector.”
Mrs Bondfield says the Framework and the subsequent reporting of the industry’s progress will ensure the industry is transparent and meeting the expectations of consumers and stakeholders.
“The beef industry has clearly identified in the Meat Industry Strategic Plan 2020 that improved transparency is a priority,” she said.
“We are now inviting stakeholders outside industry to help us define what sustainable beef is.
“Our commitment to them is to listen to and consider all constructive views.”
The Framework is an initiative of the Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) and is being led by the Sustainability Steering Group (SSG), made up of representatives from across the beef value chain.
Mrs Bondfield says the SSG recognises that sustainability is about more than just productivity and efficiency.
“Through industry consultation four themes of sustainability for the beef industry have been identified, animal welfare, economic contribution, the environment and the community,” Mrs Bondfield says.
“The draft vision for the framework developed by the sustainability steering group reflects this: “A thriving Australian beef industry that continually improves the wellbeing of people, animals and the environment.”
“We are proud to be leading this discussion and encourage interested organisations to participate.”
Following the face to face meetings, online public consultation will begin in December and January prior to the release of the framework in March 2017.
Organisations that wish to participate in the consultations can contact the Secretariat for the Framework Pip Band, at firstname.lastname@example.org
It is a commendable goal to “ensure that the industry is transparent and meeting the expectations of consumers and stakeholders”, but everyone in this process needs to understand that some of the industry’s serial critics are far from transparent. The ‘science’ they generally quote is really advocacy aimed at curbing our activities. Many of them would dearly love to shut the industry down. To quote an old saying, “When you sup with the devil, use a long spoon.”