Major food and retail companies, cattle producers, veterinarians, scientists and non-governmental organizations jointly adopted the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework, what is said to be the first-ever resource to demonstrate U.S. beef sustainability across the full value-chain.

The Framework is a product of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), a multi-stakeholder organization based in Fresno, Calif.

"Today, the U.S. beef industry serves a delicious, healthy and sustainable product," says Dr. Kim Stackhouse-Lawson, immediate past-chair of the USRSB and director of sustainability for JBS USA. "The U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is about telling that story to consumers by improving transparency, as well as helping the U.S. beef value-chain explore opportunities to more responsibly use resources, raise animals and care for the people who help beef get to the American dinner table."

The Framework leverages opportunities for continuous improvement unique to businesses and operations who raise, process or distribute beef in the United States. The voluntary resource was developed over the course of 4 years by beef farmers and ranchers, feed-yard operators, livestock auction markets, packers and processors, retail and foodservice companies, veterinarians, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders who share a mission to advance, support and communicate U.S. beef sustainability.

The Framework outlines six high-priority indicators, including water resources, land resources, animal health and well-being, employee safety and well-being, efficiency and yield and air and greenhouse gas emissions.

"The Framework is an extension of our definition of beef sustainability highlighting environmental, economic and social considerations," says Ben Weinheimer, USRSB chair. "USRSB embraced each of these three pillars in the framework to ensure meaning for individuals looking to focus on viable areas of unique value to their business or operation."

"Marketplace implementation is not the purpose of the roundtable, nor are regulations," says Weinheimer. "The roundtable made a very important choice early on not to mandate standards or verify individual stakeholder performance. USRSB is focused on building trust with consumers and helping to educate the beef community about sustainability through the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework."