Beef production in the U.S. has a rich history and the American cowboy serves as a foundation of our culture. Today, the beef industry continues to play an important role economically and socially in our country by providing high-quality protein to a growing population. Ranches also protect and preserve the open spaces for which the U.S. is known. However, like all food producing industries, cattlemen and women will face their greatest challenge in the coming decades, as we face a need to increase food production by 70 percent in just 37 years.
To combat this challenge the Beef Checkoff Program funded (through a contract with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association) a holistic, industry-wide sustainability assessment to better understand how to maximize beef production while balancing environmental responsibility, social diligence, and economic opportunity throughout the supply chain. The beef industry sustainability assessment marks the first time any industry has ever measured the sustainability of its entire supply chain. This comprehensive analysis will provide a roadmap for the journey toward a more sustainable beef industry.
In August 2013, the beef sustainability assessment was certified by the National Standards Foundation. The assessment demonstrates areas where the beef industry has made significant improvement and where improvement opportunities exist to achieve a more sustainable future. High level results show that the beef industry has reduced its environmental impact by 7 percent in the past six years. Improvements in crop yields, better irrigation, innovations in the packing sector, improvements in technology and better animal performance are examples of innovations that have all played a role in advancing industry sustainability
Despite the current rate of progress, the beef industry’s path toward continuous progress is never-ending, as sustainability is a journey about continuous improvement over time. By balancing environmental responsibility, social diligence and economic opportunity, beef production will continue to use fewer resources while providing benefits to our communities. Beef consumers can feel confident that cattlemen and women are working diligently to improve the sustainability of their product. Consumers can help our industry continue on the path of improvement by reducing plate waste and by composting beef trimmings when possible. Together we are creating a more sustainable future for beef.
For more information go to http://beefresearch.org/completedprojectsummaries.aspx