Beef Buzz News
Global Interest in Producing Sustainable Beef
Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:51:21 CDT
The U.S. cattle industry has a great sustainability story to tell. A key player in helping measure sustainability and tell the story is Kim Stackhouse-Lawson. She is the Director of Sustainability Research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Stackhouse-Lawson said while the cattle industry has done a good job in improving its environmental footprint in recent years, there is still some improvements that can be made. Not just for the beef industry but across the entire food chain that lies at the end of the food pipeline.
Ron Hays interviews Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, Director of Sustainability for NCBA
“Forty percent of the food agriculture produces is wasted,” Stackhouse-Lawson said. “Only 20 percent of beef is wasted, but if we could reduce consumer food waste by half, we could improve the sustainability of beef 10 percent overnight. So it is absolutely the full chain working together to create more sustainable beef.”
Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays caught up with Stackhouse-Lawson at the Noble Foundation's Texoma Cattlemen’s Conference. Click or tap on the LISTENBAR below for the full interview.
There are lots of critics of beef production. Stackhouse-Lawson said unfortunately in the sustainability space, it is so complex there isn't a easy way to combat those negative messages. In talking with critics, she recommends walking them through the value chain and explain beef production and how it contributes more than just beef. For instance, beef production provides open space for wildlife habitat, which sequesters carbon and provides clean water.
The U.S. beef sustainability study was supported by the dollar per head beef checkoff. The next step is communicating those findings to four main audiences of producers, influences, the global sustainability community and to retailers. Stackhouse-Lawson said in working with producers she is finding producers want scientific evidence backing up their message.
“We’ve been sustainable as an industry for a long, long time, we have six and seventh generation ranchers and those producers want to be able to tell our story, so for them that outreach is just giving those individuals the language to talk about sustainability to some of our critics,” Stackhouse-Lawson said.
Stackhouse-Lawson is also working with the influencer audience, which includes registered dieticians, doctors and the medical community. She said this group is very intelligent, well educated and they understand complex systems, but sometimes do not understand how sustainability relates to beef. Stackhouse-Lawson spends a lot of time talking with health professionals in explaining the complexity of beef production, along with information of many of the positive benefits of beef that are not being measured currently through the lifecycle assessment.
Globally there is also a great interest in the sustainability work done in America. Stackhouse-Lawson spends time working with the Global Roundtable for sustainable beef and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation's Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership, which is a effort trying to define perimeters of modeling. She said those efforts are looking to the U.S. as leaders in the scientific field in measuring beef sustainability while identifying the areas of sustainability that still need to be measured.
Retailers also have an interest in sustainability, because their customers are demanding sustainable or responsibly raised beef in their meat case. Stackhouse-Lawson said she provides them with information to help them understand what sustainable beef is and ways to work with the food system.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network- but is also a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today's show- and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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