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Cattle Council joins global beef sustainability roundtable

Beef Central, 07/03/2013

The Cattle Council of Australia has announced a decision to join fellow national representative bodies from the United States and Canada in joining the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Australia's peak grassfed cattle producer body was previously a member of the Australian chapter of the global roundtable for sustainable beef, but said its board had decided that significant benefits existed for Australian beef producers in becoming a member of a global forum of producer groups, food companies and non-Government organisations.

The global roundtable process was initiated in United States in 2010 by the World Wildlife Fund in conjunction with major beef retailers and processors including McDonalds, Walmart, JBS and Cargill, as well as many other large-scale stakeholders in the international beef value-adding chain (full membership list at bottom of article). 

Convenors of the roundtable say its focus is to develop a sustainability plan that allows the global cattle industry to produce the volume of beef required to help feed rapidly expanding populations, but doing so with less water, less land and with a smaller environmental footprint. 

The involvement of the World Wildlife Fund has fuelled concerns among some producers that the environmental non-government organisation plans to introduce certification schemes for beef producers, as it as done for other commodities such as palm oil, and that cattle producers will ultimately bear additional costs and regulatory burdens in order to maintain existing levels of market access.

In a media statement issued on Thursday afternoon to announce the council's decision, president Andrew Ogilvie said board's decision to focus on the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was important to demonstrate the Australian industry's commitment to sustainable beef produciton. 

“The global beef industry supports millions of people worldwide and the global demand for beef is projected to rise significantly by 2050, placing greater constraints on the planet’s resources. Cattle Council sees that involvement in the GRSB offers a great opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to improving the sustainability of beef production,” Mr Ogilvie said.

“The GRSB is a global, multi-stakeholder initiative that envisions a world in which all aspects of the beef value chain are environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.

“Cattle Council sees the importance of being involved in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef because Australia exported 66pc of its total beef and veal in 2011-2012 to over 100 countries.

“Australian beef is a global commodity and therefore Cattle Council will be refocusing its efforts toward the global conversation through the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

“Australia is a leader in striving for sustainable production. Through GRSB meetings and conferences, Cattle Council of Australia will have the opportunity to learn and share information about sustainable beef practices.

“Cattle Council is looking forward to working with a number of global companies towards the goal of improving sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration,” Mr Ogilvie said.

Full list of GRSB members: Allflex, Alianca da Terra (Brazilian Land Alliance), Cargill, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Darden, Dow AgroSciences, Elanco, Gibbs Land Use & Environment Lab, Marfrig, JBS, Meatco, McDonald’s, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Merck Animal Health, Rabobank, National Wildlife Federation, the Savory Institute, the Rainforest Alliance, Solidaridad, the Nature Conservancy, WWF, Walmart and Zandbergen.

Australian Roundtable 'no longer needed'

The Cattle Council of Australia's decision to jon the global roundtable has effectively led to ta decision by the remaining members of the Australian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (RSBA) to also collectively refocus their efforts on the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), according to Australian roundtable chair Guy Fitzhardinge.

"With The Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) joining the GRSB, all participants of the RSBA will now be represented in the GRSB.

"CCA will provide an additional voice for Australian beef producers at a global level and will further help to ensure all outcomes and initiatives of the GRSB will work ‘on the ground’ in Australia, " Dr Fitzhardinge said in a statement released following CCA's announcement.

"The RSBA has therefore determined that there is no longer a need for an Australian roundtable. We will continue to work together locally to produce regionally relevant input into the global discussion."

Source: Cattle Council of Australia/Australian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef

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