Sustainability: What Does the Data Say About the Beef Industry

Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson
National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Sustainability is now seen as responsibility. Sustainability is now continuous improvement.
Sustainability is about feeding people; doing more with less.

Zero impact is not possible. Start the conversation with this point.

Over the last 6 years, we have improved sustainability by 5%. How is this possible when we weren't even thinking about sustainability 6 years ago? Any technology improvement we have implemented has improved sustainability. Stackhouse-Lawson's father-in-law thought her sustainability research project was a complete waste of Beef checkoff dollars to define a word, sustainability, that outsiders created. When she thanked him for helping her project, he was completely taken aback. She then explained that the new sprinkler system he had installed improved the sustainability of his operation.

To meet the growing demand for beef by meeting environmental, economic and social concerns.

Food waste is responsible for more greenhouse gases than all of beef production.

Since 2005 emissions to water have been reduced by 10%. Consumers love this improvement.

Since 2005 beef production has reduced its water use by 3%.

Since 2005 there has been a 32% reduction in occupational accidents and illness.

Sustainability is a great opportunity for beef producers. We have a great story to tell.

  • Sustainability research has several benefits
  • Tell our story
  • Good science leads to a baseline
  • Supply chain focus in the right areas, e.g. food waste, for improvement

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. We have multiple generation operations. This is sustainability!

Decker's Take Home Message:
By focusing on profit and new technologies, we can improve sustainability of our cattle operations. Breeding objectives and economic selection indexes help our operations be focused on profit, an important component of sustainability. Are you accepting of new technologies? 


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