Initiatives Tracking Beef's Sustainability


Greg Henderson, Drovers

December 5, 2018


Transparency is driving growth in America’s food industry. Across the U.S., according consumer research conducted last year by Nielson, 64% of households buy sustainable products.


Simply stated, consumers want to know more about their food. How it was raised, what the animals were fed, how they were treated, the impact on the environment.


“More consumers are asking about product attributes such as animal welfare and sustainability,” says Glynn Tonsor, Kansas State University agricultural economist. “The millennial generation in particular is demanding transparency in the food they buy. It’s critical that the beef industry get on board with sustainability initiatives because millennials are entering their high-earning years.”


Millennial influence on food products and societal trends are also recognized by critics of livestock production. Environmental and animal welfare groups view sustainability as a beef industry Achilles heel, launching efforts to tarnish your image as animal caretaker and steward of the land.


Until recently, cattlemen had little more than their reputation and family heritage to refute exaggerated, and sometimes even false claims about beef. Your beef checkoff is working to change that.


“We need both plants and animals working together in a sustainable food system,” says Sara Place, senior director of sustainable beef production research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). While that may seem obvious to farmers and ranchers, it may not be so clear cut to those whose closest connection to the food system is their local grocery store.


That disconnect...