Cargill Cattle Feeders, the cattle supply arm of the company's U.S. beef business, has entered into an agreement with Wichita-based consultancy Kennedy and Coe, in a joint effort to create a verified beef supply chain sustainability assessment program for Cargill feed yards.
As part of the collaboration, Kennedy and Coe will leverage its extensive beef-industry and sustainability expertise and ResourceMax™ assessment service developed by its Vela Environmental division.
Based on the successful development of benchmarking and measurement criteria, this type of assessment could eventually be expanded to include cattle production in collaboration with stocker operators, ranchers, as well as with Cargill's strategic feed yard partners.
The assessment will begin with a yearlong focus on the economic, environmental and community impacts of Cargill's four feed yards in Texas, Kansas and Colorado. After the initial phase of discovery and data collection performed by Cargill personnel, ResourceMax™ reports will be generated, the data will be analyzed and benchmarking will be established to support ongoing improvement that will be appropriate, meaningful, holistic and verified. Kansas State University's Dr. Dan Thomson, bovine veterinarian and director of the school's Beef Cattle Institute, will provide technical support. Cargill beef customers also will be able to provide their sustainability criteria, resulting in a customized assessment report that gives them data to measure and document their organization's supply chain sustainability progress.
Developing sustainable beef supply chains was a point of focus for many major brands this year. In January, McDonald’s announced that, by 2016, it will begin sourcing “verified sustainable beef.” The pledge was an effort to reduce the environmental impact of the fast-food chain’s meat production, as well as to be kinder to the animals on which its livelihood rests.
Last year, the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, a group helping food and drink companies to achieve sustainable production and sourcing of agricultural raw materials whose members include McDonald's Europe and Unilever, announced the development of its Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming, the most complete guidelines developed for beef production to date. The Principles are meant to help advance the production of safe, high-quality beef in a way that protects and improves the natural environment, the social and economic condition of farmers, their employees and local communities and safeguards the health and welfare of beef cattle.