Nothing to fear from GRSB

15 Apr, 2014 02:00 AM
The Australian producer has nothing to fear when it comes to sustainability

OPINION: AS A former cattle producer and someone involved over the last two decades in supporting livestock producers and farmers in a number of countries to become more profitable and efficient, I am dismayed by some of the stories and comments I have read regarding the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB).

I joined GRSB because experience has taught me that collaboration and engagement are the most powerful tools to assist producers.

GRSB is a truly multi-stakeholder initiative, involving many producer organisations and individual producers from the main cattle-producing countries around the world.

In addition major processors, packers, pharmaceutical companies, financiers, retailers, civil society - including social and environmental organisations, and national sustainability initiatives are involved.

There are currently 55 members from all around the world. Each member organisation has one equal vote in the general assembly, the highest decision-making body of the roundtable.

I believe in the vision of GRSB – that all aspects of the global beef value chain can be economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally sound – and therefore agreed to serve as the organisation’s executive director.

I view my participation in GRSB as a continuation of my work of more than 20 years to assist producers and to be able to continue to produce more food and hand over a healthy planet to future generations.

Frankly, I have witnessed several organisations pushing a one sided view of sustainability and trying to impose unrealistic standards on producers, suggesting that minimizing environmental impact can only be achieved through producing and eating less beef. These are not solutions; these are terms of surrender. GRSB does not accept this approach. We have chosen another path.

It is clear that profitable producers are the essential starting point for a sustainable global beef value chain.

Without a successful and economically viable producer base, the entire industry will suffer, with negative consequences for all of our members. The most important means by which GRSB has to attain its goals of a sustainable global beef value chain is to work with national-based initiatives that empower producers to be more profitable and efficient.

Since we know that positive environmental benefits follow from increased profitability, the means to fulfil our economic, social and environmental ambitions are the same and represent a win-win for the industry, producers and the country.

The characterisation of GRSB as a plot by radical environmentalists to put Australian beef producers out of business could not be further from the truth.

Firstly, roundtable membership is voluntary and no principles or criteria that our members agree upon can be forced upon any other party.

Secondly, the majority of our members’ businesses depend upon a regular and predictable supply of quality beef. With a shrinking global herd, and growing demand, any effort that would result in producers leaving the business would go directly against their sustainable business interests.

Thirdly, GRSB enjoys the participation of many civil society member organisations that are well known for their positive engagement with producers and businesses.

Finally, two of the three foundational pillars of the GRSB principles and criteria are “Economic” and “Social,” i.e. our view of sustainability incorporates the need for economic viability throughout the value chain, and adverse social impacts, including any on producers and their communities, must be avoided.

The negative reaction to our efforts from certain circles seems to be based on conspiracy theory rather than available factual information. Several assertions made in the last few weeks have no basis in fact and no effort was taken to engage the GRSB or any of our membership to ascertain our position. In my opinion, the Australian producer has nothing to fear when it comes to sustainability.

Australia already has several world-class initiatives in place supporting its producers who are at least as well placed as any producer around the world to take advantage of the opportunities that sustainability can provide to their operations and their businesses.

I have yet to meet a grazier or farmer who did not want to make a profit, raise healthy cattle, and pass their property onto the next generation in as good a condition as when they started. I see the goals of GRSB and the goals of the Australian producer in complete alignment.

I will continue to build upon the positive relationships I have always enjoyed with the people that feed the nation and the world, the graziers and farmers who are the stewards of the land, while promoting increased transparency of beef production practices for the discerning consumer who wants to know how their food is produced. The only way I, and others, can do this is by talking to and learning from our producers.

The best way for producers to define the terms of the future of this industry is to engage with the supply chain and share their wisdom, knowledge and challenges with others who share their interests and ultimately sell the products they work so hard every day to produce.

GRSB gives them a forum to do just that.

Ruaraidh Petre is the Executive Director of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Rob Moore
15/04/2014 5:16:13 AM

Looks and smells like a mini version of the UN to me.Get the hell out of there CCA!
john from tamworth
15/04/2014 6:34:39 AM

Never,never ,never,Australian cattle producers will never be dictated to by foreign enviromental extremists on how to best care for their land and their livestock.We are a sovereign nation.Shame on the CCA for colluding with these people.Barnaby Joyce listen to us and wind up the CCA and MLA before these clowns give the whole circus away.
Dale Stiller
15/04/2014 7:23:05 AM

I note that this article carefully avoids mention of WWF or its bad cop partner Greenpeace. This article applies the slick oil to give an opaque view of the history surrounding all the different commodity roundtables to confine the reader to a narrow superficial utopia. Any questioning of this roundtable has been described as fearful and now by this author as conspiracy. Well I can assure you that I can debate based on real data sourced from the major players behind the roundtable. I would like to ask, just what is the Cattle Council fearful of by not standing up for beef producers.
15/04/2014 11:20:44 AM

If the Aust producer has nothing to fear when it comes to sustainability, then what we have been doing must be Ok and sustainable. So why should we risk extra costs and being dictated to by organizations that don't have the level of investment in the industry as Aust producers, and which we know from experience are hostile to our industry. Wwf, greenpeace and animal lib organizations exist purely to ruin our rural industries.
Fair Competition
15/04/2014 11:36:29 AM

Read Environmental NGOs imposing [in]voluntary regulations on consumers and business by Tim Wilson and see if you still think this is just a great scheme. d-environment/publication/1918/na ked-extortion-environmental-ngos- imposing-involuntary-regulations- on-consumers-and-business
Just another farmer
15/04/2014 11:57:12 AM

Lots of big feel good words that explain nothing. One vote one value looks a bit worrying. All cattle producers in Australia would have one vote and processors each get a vote? Oh and every environmental group each get a vote as well. This is at best a setup if not a trap to destroy the beef producers.
15/04/2014 12:05:08 PM

A former cattle producer; nuf said
15/04/2014 1:30:54 PM

There is little doubt Hon B Joyce agrees with the giving away of more of our sovereignty by allowing CCA to be involved here ; when CCA can not sign because they do not represent the majority of cattle producers and don't therefore have the cattle producers authority. Otherwise Hon Joyce would use Section 69 of the ALMI Act to instruct CCA to remove themselves from this farce. By not doing this Joyce agrees and supports the WWF and UN Agenda allowing control from outside of our borders.
17/04/2014 7:22:29 AM

Stay out of this. It is a Brazilian and high cost beef producer idea and will do nothing for the low cost, efficient, grass fed beef model that is Australia. Our animal health status alone is a maginficent thing. Protect that and stay out this scam.


Screen name *
Email address *
Remember me?
Comment *


light grey arrow
I'm one of the people who want marijuana to be legalized, some city have been approved it but
light grey arrow
#blueysmegacarshowandcruise2019 10 years on Daniels Ute will be apart of another massive cause.
light grey arrow
Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who