MINNEAPOLIS – Cargill announced on Aug. 13 that more than 1 million lbs. of beef were produced during the third quarter of its Canadian Beef Sustainability pilot project.

The company reported the volume of meat nearly doubled from the first quarter to the third quarter. In the first quarter, Cargill said it successfully certified more than 550,000 lbs. of beef produced by more than 70 cattle producers.

“While much of this initial growth can be attributed to diligent efforts by the pilot’s partners as a result of updating systems, records and processes to ensure all beef that meets the standard is recorded and tracked, the program has also seen a steady increase in participation from cattle producers and foodservice partners,” said Mike Martin, Cargill’s director of communications.

Participating cattle ranchers received $18.52 per head for qualifying cattle. Cargill is encouraging more ranchers to join the pilot program. In the first quarter partners received $10 per head and $20.11 per head in the second quarter. 

“The dollars-per-head credit varies each quarter of the pilot based on the total number of qualifying animals, cattle weights and participating retailer and foodservice operator beef demand,” Martin said. “The goal of the pilot is to permanently deliver a consistent supply of beef from certified sustainable sources to our retail and foodservice customers and their Canadian consumers, according to standards recently developed by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.”

Cargill launched the pilot program as a test of audit and traceability systems needed to meet Certified Sustainable Beef Framework standards created by the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB).

Activities in the pilot included testing and developing a methodology for tracking eligible cattle through audited live animal supply chains. The methodology for tracking supply chain sustainability certifications from the beef carcass to finished products also was tested during the period.

Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) is auditing cattle producers during the pilot. The Beef Cattle Research Council oversees VBP+ with assistance from provincial cattle organizations. The Beef Info-Exchange System’s (BIXS) radio frequency identification tagging system tracks the cattle from the animals that are tagged through processing at Cargill’s High River beef plant.