ESG Gaining Notoriety Quickly as Sustainability Conversations Become More Frequent

Click here to listen to Ron Hays talk with Dr. Sara Place about ESG.

Editor’s note- Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster Ron Hays was at Day One of the 2023 International Livestock Congress in Houston where the total focus was on the impact of ESG to Beef cattle. Over the next several Beef Buzz reports, Hays will explore what was discussed at the Congress as it relates to Cattle and this exploding concept. 

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, is back talking about the conversation on ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) with Colorado State University Feedlot Systems Specialist, Dr. Sara Place.

“ESG stands for Environmental, Social, Governance, and it is really this catch-all for sustainability that a lot of companies are using to report their progress on to investors, to big banks, to hedge funds, and there is this increasing expectation that companies will,” Place said. “So, why it matters for beef is there is companies that are selling beef, that are processing beef, that are reporting on these ESG metrics that have implications back down the supply chain in terms of things like greenhouse gas emissions that are in that framework.”

Place also talked about individuals who have taken an anti-agriculture view, specifically focusing on farm production.

“There are different groups out there, different ESG rating agencies, or folks that will put out white papers and reports to try to inform the investment community- people like pension fund managers, folks like that- that maybe have an unfriendly view to modern intensive animal production,” Place said. “That really comes from a standpoint of saying, ‘well this industry is causing risk, whether it is to water supplies or to the climate.’ So, that is one of those key places where we need to have good information, need to make sure science is driving these discussions, rather than perception in these different risk discussions.”

Regarding conversations on climate change, Place said many companies have set “net-zero” goals.

“These goals include all scopes of their missions,” Place said. “All you need to know about that is, a lot of it is actually emissions of agricultural production. Whether you are a row crop producer, or a cattle producer, a lot of these companies have made greenhouse gas emission commitments that include your own emissions. The difficult thing about that is, are there going to be expectations for tracking, or for reporting, or solutions, or implementation? A lot of that has to be determined, but I think they key thing there is just to know and have that on your radar that this stuff is happening in the background.”

A key part of telling the story in the beef cattle industry, Place said, is having the ability to showcase improvements made in the industry that are aimed at improving the sustainability and the environment.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Ag Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR 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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