Feed Lot

APR-MAY 2017

Feedlots and cow/calf operations in the beef industry who feed 500 or more has annually on grains and concentrates; maintain 500 or more beef cows; backgrounder, stocker/grower, preconditioner; veterinarian, nutritionist, consultant

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Today's consumers demand more from their food than ever be- fore. High on their list of priorities? Sustainability. But just what does that commonly used phrase mean? What will it mean for cattlemen go- ing forward? The Noble Founda- tion addressed this and more at its Texoma Cattlemen's Conference: The Future of Sustainable Beef, held February 24 in Ardmore, Okla. Stakeholders representing vari- ous levels of the supply chain — cow-calf, feeding, packing and foodservice — each spoke on the importance of raising and market- ing a product that satisfies con- sumers' growing demands without giving up its economic viability. John Butler, who serves as chief executive officer of Manhattan, Kan.-based Beef Marketing Group and feeds cattle in Kansas and Ne- braska, said there are many defini- tions of sustainability, but to him it's about always striving to improve. "I'm a third-generation cattle producer," Butler said. "And I've heard, "Well, I am a third-genera- tion cattleman so, in fact, I am sus- tainable. That may be one defini- tion. But that is not how I look at it or how we look at it. For us, sus- tainability is about continual im- provement. It is about identifying the resources that we use and fig- uring out ways that we can use them better." Butler said the United States Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, a group he serves as chairman of, de- fines sustainability through their vision statement: "The U.S. beef value chain is the trusted global leader in environmentally sound, socially responsible and economi- cally viable beef." "Now, as a cattle producer, I am interested in all three of those," But- ler said. "But No. 1 for me, let there be no mistake, is the third one. It has to be economically viable." He said cattlemen should em- brace the opportunity to join the sustainability conversation. "We can't afford to sit on the side- lines," he said. "This could be driven for us, or we can help drive it." Butler said the roundtable ini- tially identified 123 indicators of sustainability but funneled those down to six to focus on: animal care, efficiency of yield, water re- sources, land resources, green- house emissions and employee safety and well-being. "I'm telling you, ladies and gen- tleman, they are harmless," Butler said. "There is nothing about these that we should be fearful of or any kind of concern about. These are things we are managing anyway." For example, one of the metrics of animal care is becoming Beef Quality Assurance certified. "We didn't want to build indicators that would be way out here and have vast measurements," he said. "We wanted to walk before we run. But if we cannot at least be- come BQA certified, then we are not being responsible stewards of these animals." Townsend Bailey is no stranger to sustainability buzz — it's even part of his job title. The director of supply chain sustainability for Mc- Donald's said for the fast food chain, it's a matter of assured sup- ply and risk management. "To McDonald's," Bailey said, "Sustainability is the ability to keep doing what we're doing. That means beef in our restaurants, for our cus- tomers, any time they want it." But they don't want to just keep on doing what they're doing. They want to do it better and better. "It's not just about being able to keep selling hamburgers," Bailey said. "It's about our role in the world." He explained the company has more than 36,000 restaurants all over the globe. They serve about 70 million people per day. "That's a tremendous responsi- bility, and it's also a tremendous opportunity," Bailey said. "Each one of those touchpoints is an op- portunity to have a positive impact on those customers and it's also an opportunity to have a positive im- pact throughout our supply chain as well." 20 FEED•LOT  April/May 2017 Stakeholders share what the buzzword means to them, announce pilot project at Noble Foundation event A A S S us us t t a a in in a a bl bl e e F F u u t t u u r r e e MARKETING By KATRINA HUFFSTUTLER u

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