Canadian beef organizations are looking further into the future with a new set of long-term goals for the industry.
The Canadian Beef Advisors introduced three sets of 10-year goals for the industry to work towards together, focused on animal health and welfare, land use and biodiversity and greenhouse gas and carbon sequestration.
“The intent is that these are ‘stretch’ goals that encourage industry to strive for something we would not achieve without setting them,” said Canadian Beef Advisors Chair Tyler Bjornson in a Sept. 16 press release. “Part of the reason for setting an ambitious goal is to encourage innovation and push industry as a whole to think differently and move out of our comfort zone.”
These goals are designed to build on the 2020-2024 National Beef Strategy’s five-year goals. “These goals highlight the work of the Canadian beef industry as integral for climate change mitigation and the sustainability of our food system. Building support from government and public trust is based on doing the right things for our land, our animals and our environment,” the press release goes on to state.
The animal health and welfare goals include:
- “Ensure the five freedoms of animal wellbeing by increasing adoption of on-farm management practices:
- Attain 92 per cent reproductive efficiency in Canadian beef production (85 per cent in 2018)
- Adopt management and breeding choices that support animal welfare (e.g. calving ease, polled genes, pain relief)
- Establish and maintain a surveillance system to monitor cattle production practices across Canada
- Ensure the effectiveness of existing and future antimicrobials is preserved to support human and animal health and welfare”
- Develop, monitor and disseminate best practices regarding antimicrobial use
- Quantify and describe baseline antibiotic use practices in Canadian feedlot production
- Determine and monitor antibiotic resistance profiles in bacteria of concern in feedlot cattle”
The land use and biodiversity goals include:
- “Maintain the 35 million acres of native grassland in the care of beef producers:
- by focusing on economic viability of producers and
- by supporting programs that incentivize conservation
- in collaboration with Canadian crop groups (e.g. Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops)
2. Maintain a network of natural landscapes and healthy functioning ecosystems through well-managed grazing systems that maintain sustainable plant communities and healthy rangelands
- Maintain and enhance the 68 per cent of wildlife habitat capacity within agricultural lands being supported by beef production
- Enhance the ecosystem services (e.g. carbon sequestration, etc.) provided on the nine million acres of seeded grassland in the care of beef producers
- Encourage practices that build soil organic matter and enhance soil biodiversity resulting in both carbon sequestration and water infiltration”
The greenhouse gas and carbon sequestration goals include:
- “Safeguard the existing 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon stored on lands managed with beef cattle
- Sequester an additional 3.4 million tonnes of carbon every year
- Reduce primary production GHG emission intensity by 33 per cent by 2030
- Reduce food loss and waste (from secondary processing to consumer) by 50 per cent by 2030”
The national organizations involved in this process were the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canada Beef, Beef Cattle Research Council, Canadian Beef Breeds Council, Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Canadian Meat Council and National Cattle Feeders’ Association.
The goals were developed through an iterative process, the National Beef Strategy website states, which included stakeholder interviews, a literature review and examining how “previous achievements came from multiple small incremental improvements across the system as a whole.”
The Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef will use these goals as part of its Sustainability Strategy update, and the Beef Cattle Research Council will use them to help update its 2023-2028 National Beef Research and Extension Strategy.
The Beef Advisors also plan to use the goals to “build government and public support for beef production and its activities through a clear consistent message that addresses the challenges faced head on while also communicating its benefits,” according to the National Beef Strategy’s website.
An additional four sets of goals will be announced in 2021, falling under the topics of beef quality and food safety, human health and safety, water and technology. More information on the industry goals to 2030 can be found on the National Beef Strategy website.