Peer-to-Peer Sharing is the Key to Sustainability in the Beef Industry
December 5, 2019
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) envisions a world in which all aspects of the beef value chain are environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable. It was founded in 2013 to be a strategic platform where leading stakeholders from within the beef industry, environmental organizations, retailers and others with a close interest in the beef industry come together to advance continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain. This is achieved through knowledge sharing, leadership, science and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration.
Multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration is the key to GRSB and the main ingredient for its success over the years and around the world. Including all stakeholders, especially producers, means that while sustainability initiatives begin on the farm, each member of the value chain is responsible for ensuring the sustainability of their own processes. While there has been much success with farmers and producers sharing best practices and improving the sustainability of the industry, this collective action was a departure from the farming tradition of keeping practices, successes and challenges to themselves.
“GRSB brings together people from around the world who represent all segments of the beef value chain,” said OSI Group Chief Sustainability Officer Nicole Johnson-Hoffman. “This includes individual producers who, ultimately, agree there is massive value in sharing knowledge and who want to partner to drive exciting new levels of performance in areas impacting GRSB’s principles and criteria of sustainable beef.”
Ensuring producers are at the table and are the main drivers of the sustainable beef discussion means that they are able to advocate for sustainability and assert the fact that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to it. Within these discussions, farmers can share best practices and advise others how to adopt these practices and make them work on their own farms. These producers know that sustainability will continue to grow as a key consideration for consumers, so it is important to respond to the market in a way that makes sense for each party involved in the industry.
INTERNATIONAL FARM VISITS DRIVE THE BEEF SUSTAINABILITY DISCUSSION IN NEW ZEALAND
The sharing of best practices is the main reason OSI invests a great deal of time, effort and resources into the GRSB and its own platform, the OSI Sustainability 365 Program. This program encourages and recognizes the farmers who make sustainable farming practices their top priority when producing our food. This global program reaches across the world to each of OSI’s regions of operation; some of the efforts of the OSI Sustainability 365 Program and the GRSB intersect and amplify the other’s efforts.
Recently, OSI brought some of its OSI Sustainability 365 Program farmers from Australia to New Zealand for information sharing and to mark the launch of the regional beef sustainability roundtable in New Zealand. This exchange with the farmers was an exercise in peer-to-peer sharing and showcases a strong foundation from which to grow the OSI Sustainability 365 Program to other regions around the world.
At each location, the farmers learned about new practices and, while some of the practices learned may or may not apply to their farming contexts, they were still able to take away important insights around producing sustainable beef as a whole.
The first group of farmers selected in the OSI Sustainability 365 Program are three Australian beef farmers. These farmers represent different regions within Australia as well as different farming models. Through our engagement with them over the last couple of years, we have seen them demonstrate true passion for their farms and their animals.
THE KEY INGREDIENT OF THE OSI SUSTAINABILITY 365 PROGRAM
An important part of the OSI Sustainability 365 Program is the peer-to-peer engagement. OSI feels strongly that by selecting these three outstanding farming families, they will share their experiences with their neighbors and like-minded farmers from the same regions. We know the sharing of best practices is ultimately how the industry can improve and learn.
The true purpose of OSI Sustainability 365 is to encourage open dialogue. Although many farmers are friendly with their neighbors and may even look over their shared fences to see that the other farm is getting better results, farmers have traditionally been reluctant to ask questions about each other’s operations. Our program aims to increase communication among farmers so they can learn from each other and promote profitable sustainability.
While we have acknowledged three Australian farmers, the OSI Sustainability 365 Program is a global program. Our aim is to provide a vehicle that allows ideas to be shared across different regions, so we can provide opportunities and ideas to continuously improve using best practices from different areas.
OSI AND THE GLOBAL ROUNDTABLE FOR SUSTAINABLE BEEF
OSI is a founding member of the GRSB and remains a dedicated supporter of all the Roundtables for Sustainable Beef. Since January 2018, OSI Group’s chief sustainability officer has served as the president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, and other members of OSI’s Sustainability team also participate in the regional roundtables in Europe, the United States and Australia.
The GRSB consists of a general assembly, which is comprised of 19 members, including a board of directors and the executive committee. The executive committee has a president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and two at-large members.
OSI’s Chief Sustainability Officer Nicole Johnson-Hoffman has served her second consecutive term as president of the GRSB and in the new year will have completed her terms and move on to a new leadership role as Ex-Officio. This continued participation puts OSI in a strong position to share key learnings from our vast network of operations around the world, as we leverage this network to make strong peer-to-peer connections throughout the industry and also be at the forefront of learning and improvement in our own operations.
The GRSB recently elected OSI for another two-year term on its board of directors. This is a very proud achievement for OSI, as we work hard to remain leaders and conveners to improve the sustainability of our industry. We are excited that Michael McCarthy, OSI’s Global Head of Beef and Pork, will be serving in that GRSB board position.
“I am pleased to be joining this impressive group of leaders in beef sustainability,” said McCarthy. “OSI continually seeks to bring about meaningful change and improvement in our own operations and across the industry. Over the years, the GRSB has been a powerful driver for the progress we each want to contribute to for the future of beef sustainability.”
SUSTAINABILITY IN THE BEEF INDUSTRY IS HOLISTIC AND PROGRESSIVE
Sustainability in the future of our industry is not one single practice. It is not even one group. It is a much more comprehensive movement that will involve every stakeholder in the supply chain and nearly every operation from the farm all the way to the table.
“Sustainability doesn’t come from focusing on just one thing. Sustainability is not a buzz-word. It’s not an initiative. It’s not a program. Sustainability is holistic. Sustainability is progressive. And the need for our work in sustainable beef only grows,” said Johnson-Hoffman. “GRSB is working to connect dots and drive best-in-class learning and thinking that prioritizes our planet, people and animals."