After receiving more than 450 comments from its first public comment period, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) has released an updated Sustainability Framework for a second round of feedback. The public can submit comments to the revised Sustainability Framework through Dec. 20.
The USRSB Sustainability Framework was developed over the course of three years by more than 200 industry stakeholders representing all segments of the beef value chain. The framework is comprised of resources that explore key environmental, social and economic factors and capitalizes on individual voluntary efforts the industry can implement to assess and improve its overall sustainability. The full set of resources was initially released June 1 for a nationwide 60-day public comment period.
“The public comment period was an opportunity to listen, identify areas for improvement and ultimately create a stronger, more flexible resource for the beef value chain,” said Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, JBS USA sustainability director and 2018-19 USRSB chair.
Stackhouse-Lawson said the feedback brought USRSB one step closer to finalizing the framework by addressing stakeholder input. “For example, we were able to further clarify judicious use of antibiotics, expand upon practices that could mitigate greenhouse gas emissions or improve carbon sequestration and further define our role in the implementation of market programs for sustainable beef based on feedback from the public.”
Highlights of the revised USRSB Sustainability Framework include:
- Recusal from Sustainable Market Program or Regulatory Affairs — USRSB added clarifying language to define its role in sustainable beef markets. This language states that the USRSB Framework can be implemented in the marketplace, but no certification or verification program will be led by the USRSB. It also clarified the USRSB will not engage in regulatory or lobbying activities.
- Support for Judicious Use of Antibiotics in Beef Production — USRSB included additional language that reaffirmed its commitment to antibiotic stewardship using "Antibiotic Judicious Use Guidelines" developed by Beef Quality Assurance in the cow/calf and feedyard sectors. USRSB also shared its support for the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef statement on antibiotic stewardship, which aligns with the World Organization for Animal Health guidance.
- Additional Greenhouse Gas Emissions Science — USRSB provided additional information on sources and practices that could mitigate emissions or improve carbon sequestration across all segments of the beef value chain. This science demonstrates positive changes made by the industry in past years and addresses the complexities surrounding emissions in beef production.
“It was exciting to see the reaction from our first public comment period,” Stackhouse-Lawson said. “We learned that consumer and stakeholder interest and overall confidence in our approach is high. I hope our work through the USRSB can begin to demonstrate our continued commitment to doing things for the right reasons and build trust with beef consumers.”
A final set of resources for the beef value chain will be revealed this May during the USRSB General Assembly meeting in Fresno, Cal.