ALMG on the world stage

15-Nov-2010

The ALMG was on the world stage in early November when its CEO, Tony Gleeson, attended a global conference on sustainable beef production in Denver, Colorado. Topping the agenda of the conference was improving and communicating the environmental impact of food production systems.

Beef industry representatives and environmentalists from across the globe, in particular from North and South America, Europe and Australia, explored how multi-stakeholder engagement could lead to more environmentally sustainable beef production.

Speakers highlighted the need to recognise the great diversity of beef production systems both within and between countries. Strategies for improving sustainability need to be context specific, even down to the individual operator, and delivering continuous improvement rather than just application of so called best practice.

The conference also stressed the need for the industry to better communicate successes and examples of programs that deliver environmental improvement.

Australia was represented by major conference convenors, JBS Swift, Cargill and World Wildlife Fund as well as by Meat & Livestock Australia, Cattle Council of Australia, the ALM Group, Fitzroy Basin Association, Keystone Group, and Macquarie Pastoral.

In conference plenary sessions Tony Gleeson urged delegates not to use productivity indicators as a surrogate for environmental outcomes. He also cautioned against the temptation to plan multi-stakeholder strategies on the false premise that beef production exists as a single land use. To suppport this, Tony instanced the Australian situation where only about 11% of beef by value is produced on beef-only properties.  

According to Tony, one of the great challenges facing the beef industry and agriculture more broadly is the very high level of community scepticism about environmental claims.

He cautioned: ‘This situation warrants wider application of credible independent third party audits of improving environmental performance, a development well within the capacity of the Australian farm sector’.


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