Doing More With Less
An update on sustainability and the beef industry.
LOVELAND, Colo. (Nov. 17, 2015) — When it comes to defining sustainability, it can be an “infuriating word,” said Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs and sustainability for JBS USA. Bruett addressed more than 700 attendees Nov. 17 at the 24th biennial Range Beef Cow Symposium in Loveland, Colo.
Cameron Bruett, head of corporate affairs and sustainability for JBS USA, explained that sustainability is challenging to define because it is defined differently by different people.
He further explained that sustainability is challenging to define because it is defined differently by different people — and many people use the term as a means to “vilify agriculture.”
He noted that often the primary factor used to define sustainability relates to environmental perspective and preservation of natural resources. However, he clarified, sustainability must encompass more factors — from impacts on a community to the ability to attract the next generation to the industry.
“Sustainability needs to consider all these things,” Bruett said.
He shared several alternate definitions for sustainability:
- able to be used without being completely used up or destroyed;
- involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources;
- able to last or continue for a long time;
- able to endure.
“At its core, sustainability means doing more with less,” Bruett added.
Looking to the future, the ability to do more with less will be imperative in agriculture as the world population increases and the middle-class sector adds 3 billion people, Bruett emphasized. “The first thing people want to do when they [move out of poverty and] become middle-class is improve their diet. That means more milk, eggs, protein and beef.”
As a result of this, he said, by 2050 the world will need 70% more food and could need three times the planet’s available resources to produce that food.
Bruett highlighted efforts under way since 2011 establishing the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef to aid the global beef industry in establishing — with producer input — a definition of sustainability.
The immediate past president of the GRSB emphasized that the group has worked hard to combat the notion that technology cannot be part of sustainability and the solution for feeding the world’s future population.
“We are tying an arm behind our back when we take technology off the table. It is time to stand up and share our passion — why we do what we do — [and] share our beliefs so that 98% of the population who consume what we produce have confidence in what we do,” Bruett emphasized.
He cited the GRSB’s mission as follows: to advance continuous improvement in the sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science, and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.
“We envision a world in which all aspects of the beef value chain are environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable,” Bruett said.
Additionally, he emphasized that society must remember that wealthy consumers — those who have the means to buy whatever type of beef or food labels they want — are not the only people who are beef and agriculture’s customers.
“We have to feed the entire world,” Bruett concluded.
For more information about the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef visit www.grsb.org.
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