The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) took steps to enhance consumer trust and reduce the industry’s impact on the climate this month at the Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville.
Beef producers in the U.S., who currently contribute a small portion of direct emissions into the climate (about 2%), set a goal to demonstrate climate neutrality by 2040.
“Producers deserve recognition for their use of cutting-edge practices and technologies that minimize environmental impact,” said Marty Smith, past NCBA president. “By setting goals, we’re publicly committing to continuous improvement and setting targets that allow us to measure and document those efforts.”
The beef industry reduced emissions per pound of beef by more than 40% from 1961 to 2018 while producing more than 60% more beef per animal during that time, according to NCBA.
One of the tools to document sustainability, the voluntary Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, focuses on enhancing consumer trust in cattle producers as responsible caretakers of their animals and resources. Enhancing consumer trust remains a top goal of NCBA this year.
“BQA is the message we’re trying to portray to let consumers know we’re certified for the handling and transport of cattle,” Justin Rahn, a Carroll County cattle farmer who serves on the Illinois Beef Association board, told the RFD Radio Network. “We need better outreach to let the people buying our product know what BQA is.”
Along with its goals for the climate and consumer trust, NCBA also seeks to create and enhance producer profitability and economic sustainability by 2025 and continuously improve the industry’s workforce safety and well-being.
The goals were developed through a grassroots, farmer-led process, which culminated in the formation of the Sustainability Goals Task Force this year.
“It’s making sure for our constituents that we’re spending checkoff dollars and representing people back home,” said Rahn, who took part in the meetings at the recent national cattle industry event.
Cattle farmers already made significant strides improving output and quality while lowering greenhouse gas emissions through breeding, genetics and nutrition.
BQA strives to maximize consumer confidence and acceptance of beef with attention to daily practices on cattle farms.
“As our country and world examine risks associated with climate change and other sustainability challenges, our commitment to sustainability positions us to play an even bigger role in mitigating these risks in the future,” Smith said.