Beef Industry Implementing Sustainability Practices

Not only is beef delicious and nutritious, but the beef industry continues to implement numerous proven sustainability practices throughout the “pasture-to-plate” process that contribute to the way beef is raised responsibly today, according to a release from the Beef Checkoff.

To the beef community, sustainability comprises much more than environmental considerations, the release said.  Today, a sustainable food supply balances efficient production with environmental, social and economic effects.




A sustainable food system is a balance of three pillars: social responsibility, economic viability and environmental stewardship, the release said.  Farmers and ranchers are dedicated to producing beef in a way that prioritizes the planet, people, animals and progress.

Perhaps the least explored of the three pillars is social sustainability, the checkoff said.

“We define this as community and organizational resilience, based on principles such as equity, health, social capital and well-being,” the release said.  For beef production, social sustainability includes worker safety, animal welfare, antibiotic and technology use, and the culture and traditions of producers.

The economic pillar of sustainability refers to practices that support economic success and equitability, without negatively affecting the social and environmental aspects of the community, the checkoff said.  This includes improving rural economies & livelihoods, affordability of beef to consumers, profitability of beef producers and the value of ecosystem services.

Beef farms and ranches represent more than 30% of the farms in the US, making up the largest segment of US agriculture.

Environmental sustainability is concerned with protecting and enhancing natural resources, ecosystem services and ecological health, the release said.  This looks at biodiversity, carbon & water footprints, wildlife habitat, soil and rangeland health, and the ability of cattle to utilize human inedible feeds, among others.




Currently, emissions from cattle, including those that come from the feed production, fuel and electricity only account for 3.7% of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the US, the checkoff said.

To better understand and optimize environmental sustainability, cattlemen and women recently invested in an updated environmental Life Cycle Assessment, the release said.  The LCA provides benchmarks for the cattle industry and is a roadmap toward an even more environmentally sustainable approach to raising beef.

Cattle spend the majority of their lives on pasture.  This expands the land available for food production by consuming forages on non-arable lands that are unsuitable for cropping.

Cattle then may spend the last four to six months of their lives in a feedlot where 50%-85% of their diet is grain and other by-products.  Grain-finishing cattle shortens the time it takes to get from birth to harvest, lessening their environmental impact while increasing per-animal production.




The USDA reported formula and contract base prices for live FOB steers and heifers this week ranged from $171.30 per cwt to $176.54, compared with last week’s range of $169.94 to $177.58 per cwt.  FOB dressed steers, and heifers went for $268.57 per cwt to $278.21, compared with $269.65 to $276.85.

The USDA choice cutout Tuesday was down $3.16 per cwt at $300.74 while select was down $2.15 at $281.28.  The choice/select spread narrowed to $19.46 from $20.47 with 101 loads of fabricated product and 25 loads of trimmings and grinds sold into the spot market.

The USDA said basis bids for corn from feeders in the Southern Plains were unchanged at $1.73 to $1.85 a bushel over the Jul corn contract, which settled at $5.77 1/2 a bushel, up $0.06 1/2.

The CME Feeder Cattle Index for the seven days ended Monday was $206.76 per cwt, up $2.06.  This compares with Tuesday’s May contract settlement of $207.80 per cwt, up $1.22 and Aug’s $233.47, down $1.42.