Iowa Cattle Producers Discuss Sustainability

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DES MOINES, Iowa- The Iowa Cattle Industry is holding it’s annual meeting to talk about many issues producers are facing.  One issue is a growing buzzword: sustainability.

At a round table discussion the topic was examined, and one thing became clear: sustainability means different things, to different people. A panel of four looked at different takes for different groups.

Sara Place of Oklahoma State University is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Beef Cattle Systems. “It’s a balance between economics, social issues and the environment,” said Place.  “Usually we think about it as the environment, that’s where the buzz comes from but it’s really about balancing those three areas.”

Cameron Bruett, of JBS of North America, which is a Brazilian beef packer.  He works with his company on the issue of sustainability. “Sustainability in it’s most simplest terms means continuous improvement doing better today than you did yesterday so you can improve for tomorrow,” said Bruett. “It does not mean any one system, it does not mean any niche based-system like organic or grass fed.”

Also on the panel was Susan Forsell, who serves as  Vice President for Sustainability for McDonald’s Corporation. ” For beef one of our first steps was to act as a founding member of the global roundtable for sustainable beef,” said Forsell.  She also cited her companies efforts in a number of sustainable projects, starting with the Amazon Rain Forest starting back in 1989.

Bill Couser of Couser Cattle Company, near Nevada spoke from the producer  standpoint. “When I look at sustainability, how do I produce my corn, how do I produce my cattle, and where do I market them, and in what way and am I profitable that’s what sustainability is,” said Couser.

One consensus on the panel was that sustainability covers three areas, environmental, social, and economic areas.

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