FRESNO, Calif. – The US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRB) announced the release of the US Beef Industry Sustainability Framework which are guidelines for industry to implement socially responsible and sustainable beef production practices.

The framework identifies six high-priority indicators — such as animal health and well-being, water resources and employee safety among others — along with sector-specific metrics and sustainability assessment guides. These subject areas are an extension of USRB’s definition of sustainable beef and identify opportunities for continuous improvement throughout the beef industry.

Sustainability frameworks are available across the industry, including resources for cow-calf operators, auction markets, feed yards, and retail and foodservice.

“Today, the US beef industry serves a delicious, healthy and sustainable product,” said Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, JBS-USA Director of Sustainability and 2018-2019 USRSB chair. “The US Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is about telling that story to consumers by improving transparency, as well as exploring opportunities to more responsibly use resources, raise animals, and care for the people who help beef get to the American dinner table.”

The USRSB will conduct outreach campaigns throughout 2019. National meetings for the cattle, grocer, and retail trade associations as well as smaller regional meetings will serve as platforms for the USRSB to introduce the industry to the framework in addition to resources that will help individuals and companies achieve specific metrics. Ben Weinheimer, current vice president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association and incoming USRSB chair-elect, will lead outreach efforts. However, USRSB will not oversee implementation of the framework in the marketplace.

“Sustainability means something different to each of us, a challenge USRSB embraced,” said Weinheimer, vice president of the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. “As we roll out the US Beef Industry Sustainability Framework throughout 2019, our goal is to assist the industry in recognizing those differences and bringing forth realistic approaches and opportunities for individual operations to highlight areas of value unique to them.

“Market-place implementation is not the purpose of the Roundtable, nor are regulations,” Weinheimer added. “The Roundtable made a very important choice early on not to mandate standards or verify individual stakeholder performance. USRSB is focused on building trust with consumers and helping educate the beef community about sustainability.”

The US Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is the result of a collaborative effort by farmers and ranchers, feed yard operators, livestock auction markets, packers and processors, retail and foodservice companies, veterinarians, non-government organizations and other stakeholders. The 116 members of the USRSB represent 30 percent of the US cattle herd.

“Our organization is confident in the US Beef Industry Sustainability Framework,” Stackhouse-Lawson said. “Over the course of four years, these resources underwent seven internal and public comment periods, which received an abundance of positive feedback, and recognized the ability of the Framework to address beef sustainability in a meaningful way.”