Last week, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) concluded its second annual General Assembly meeting, wrapping up two days of successful meetings aimed at advancing the sustainability of beef in the United States. This year’s meeting focused on reviewing accomplishments over the past year, aligning to a work plan for the coming year and approval of a strategic plan for the future which will guide the group’s efforts moving forward, according to newly-elected USRSB Chairman John Butler, a cattle producer from Kansas.

“We had about 150 participants here for this year’s meeting, so we’re very pleased with the turnout and engagement for advancing the USRSB efforts,” said Butler. “Each of the stakeholder groups were well represented. During this first year we’ve accomplished two key goals. We approved a strategic plan which provides a roadmap for the future and will guide our efforts for the next couple of years.”

The development of high priority sustainability indicators for the beef industry was another key development for USRSB during its first year. Butler explained that the identification of six priority indicators was a monumental task, indicators in areas such as water resources and animal care allow the beef value chain to benchmark its efforts and focus individual sustainability efforts in order to continually advance beef’s sustainability. He also pointed out that those six key areas align with the beef checkoff-funded beef industry lifecycle assessment, meaning that much of the initial benchmarking work is already complete and future improvements can be measured against work that is already complete and third-party certified.

“The next step for USRSB is the completion of an assurance framework from which to measure improvement. This next phase is an important one for our industry because it paves the way to demonstrate that companies and individuals all along the value chain are putting practices in place which advance our sustainability,” said Butler. “Under this framework, USRSB will provide the education and training resources for each segment of the beef supply chain. In the case of some companies, we’re already seeing value-added programs that are advancing our sustainability and providing a return on investment for the producers who are taking part in it, so it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the sustainability effort.”