Beef industry launches sustainability project
The U.S. beef industry is launching what it calls “a landmark sustainability assessment”.
Bo Reagan of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) says the industry will be using an “eco-efficiency” tool developed by the BASF Corporation, which is partnering on the project.
Reagan says the first step is to conduct what’s known as a “hot spot analysis” to assess stakeholder perceptions of the beef industry.
“Whether it’s water usage—whether you’re talking about carbon footprint, methane gas—whatever you want to talk about,” Reagan says. “We’re going to have a long, long list of factors that people feel like are things we need to address in the beef industry to enhance our sustainability.”
Reagan says the eco-efficiency tool will then put a cost on addressing those hot spots. While some may prove to be economically and socially impractical, Reagan expects to find many other areas that are.
“With that model, we’ll also be able to go back and say ‘okay, here are five areas that are important—where you can make great gains from the standpoint of the cost of really making significant strides here’,” he says.
Anti-meat activists have long argued that beef production is unsustainable. Reagan says the industry’s sustainability assessment will provide scientifically rigorous and credible information to help address those claims.
“Because it’s important that we put a stake in the ground—let people know that this is a very high priority for our industry—let them know that we are working on this,” says Reagan, “and to be able to have the data in hand showing them the significant strides we’re making each year as we move along.”
The research effort will funded with beef checkoff dollars. NCBA is the checkoff contractor managing the assessment.