WHAT IS OUR FRAMEWORK?

The U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework is a resource developed to identify opportunities for continuous improvement in all types of operations and companies throughout the beef industry. The Framework is an extension of the USRSB’s definition of sustainable beef; a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes planet, people, animals and progress. 

Engaging each sector of the value chain was a critical component of the Framework development. From cattle production to value chain sourcing and from veterinary science to soil health, these diverse backgrounds and expertise created a comprehensive and scientifically informed Framework that can be adapted to diverse operation and company situations in the beef industry. 

High Priority Indicator

The USRSB members identified six high-priority indicators that were most important to beef sustainability. These six high-priority indicators were selected as taking action in supporting advancement towards improvement could be achieved through collaboration throughout the value chain.

AIR & GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS

The cumulative emissions of pollutants, including particulate matter, greenhouse gases and other gaseous emissions from a sector for each process.

LAND RESOURCES

The stewardship of terrestrial and aquatic habitat in relation to water, soil and biodiversity in an area. Impacts of land use and land use conversion, both caused by and prevented by ranching a and farming activities. 

WATER RESOURCES

The volume of water consumed and any impacts on water quality. 

EMPLOYEE SAFETY & WELL-BEING

The implementation of safety programs and training to provide a safe workplace and help to prevent workplace accidents and injuries associated with production, processing and distribution of beef and the relative prosperity of workers employed in those activities.

ANIMAL HEALTH & WELL-BEING

The cumulative effects of cattle health, nutrition, care and comfort. 

EFFICIENCY & YEILD

Efficiency is the unit of input required to produce a unit of output and yield is the total product generated per unit of time or space. Both concepts address waste as a negative characteristic and drive toward improved profitability.

Sustainability metrics within sectors

Cow/Calf Metrics

The Cow-Calf Sector is made up of individuals, organizations and associations of people who are actively engaged in the ownership and management of cattle used to produce beef, inclusive of cow-calf producers, stockers and backgrounders. 

Air & Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Has a grazing management plan (or equivalent) been implemented that protects or improves soil and plant community health, including soil carbon sequestration?

Land Resources

Has a grazing management plan (or equivalent) been implemented that protect and.\/or improve the land resources, including succession/transition planning?

Water Resources

Has a grazing management plan (or equivalent), being implemented that maintains or improves water resources?

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Are all individuals who are involved in the operation trained in stockmanship and safety, and are they implementing these practices on the farm or ranch?

Animal Health & Well-Being

Has the operation adopted Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), or similar program principles into management of the farm or ranch?

Efficiency & Yield

Is there a strategy implemented to optimize animal productivity through improved nutrition, reproduction, genetics, technologies and practices?

Feedyard Metrics

The Feedyard Sector consists of operations where cattle are fed a balanced diet for four to six months and receive daily care.

Air & Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Are strategies in place to manage air and greenhouse gas emissions?

Land Resources

Has a nutrient management strategy or plan been implemented?

Water Resources

Are water resource management strategies implemented at the feedyard that address water management, water use optimization and conservation and water quality?

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Are feedyard employees trained and is an employee safety program implemented at the feedyard?

Animal Health & Well-Being

Are feedyard employees trained in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) principles and are these principles implemented at the feedyard?

Efficiency & Yield

Are cattle performance and operational efficiency tracked over time for this facility?

Packer & Processor Metrics

The Packer and Processor Sector is made up of organization and facilities that process, package and distribute beef.

Air & Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Level 1

Are strategies in place to optimize energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions at company facility(ies)?

Level 2

What is the company’s CO2e per head or CO2e per mass of finished product?

Level 3

Does the company make CO2e publicly available?

Does the company track greenhouse gas and air emissions over time and set goals for continued improvement?

Does the company participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further greenhouse gas reduction and improve air quality?

Land Resources

Does the company have initiatives and/or explore opportunities to mitigate land and biodiversity impacts to new facility developments?

Water Resources

Level 1 

Is water resource management plan implemented at the facility?

Level 2 

How many wastewater permit non-compliances has the facility had in the previous calendar year?

What is the eater use in gallons/head/day (packers), or gallons/pound of beef processed(processors)?

Level 3 

Does the company track discharge water quality over time?

Does the company have set goals for continued improvement?

Does the company make water performance efforts public?

Does the company participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance water resource management?

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Level 1  

Does the company have a documented employee safety and well-being program that engages front-line employees and leadership?

Level 2  

Does the company track Total Recordable Incident Rates TRIR)?

Level 3  

Does the company track trends on TRIR and reference rates against the NAICS industry standard rate to set goals for the upcoming year?

Does the company participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance employee safety and well-being?

Animal Health & Well-Being

Level 1   

Packer: Does the company have a comprehensive animal welfare program including third-part verification?

Processor: Does the company have a documented animal welfare policy (or equivalent) and encourage the adoption of the Framework’s Animal Health and Well-being Metrics?

Level 2   

Packer: What is your company’s total number of USDA non-compliance animal welfare violations per 100,000 head processed in the previous calendar year?

Packer: What percentage of cattle come under a third -party audit? What percentage pass on first audit?

Processor: Does the company use second-or-third party animal welfare audits, such as the North American Meat Institute’s (NAMI) Animal Handling Guidelines and Audit Guide to verify policy compliance to at least the packer level?

Level 3   

Does the company track animal health and well-being overtime and set goals for continued improvement?

Does the company engage its suppliers or participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs and/or engage its suppliers to advance continuous improvement regarding animal health and well-being in the beef value chain? 

Efficiency & Yield

Level 1   

Is a program to divert waste from landfills implemented at the facility?

Level 2   

How much mass of waste/head or waste/mass of finished product does the company divert from landfill?

Level 3    

Does the company track waste reduction over time and set goals for continued improvement?

Does the company participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance waste reduction strategies?

Retail & Food Service Metrics

The Retail and Food Service Sector represents food retailers including grocery stores, mass merchandisers, hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, food service companies and food delivery companies. 

Air & Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Level 1

Has the company assessed its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions?

Level 2

Does the company have a plan to reduce its Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions

Has the company assessed the Scope 3 GHG emissions of its beef value chain?

Does the company engage suppliers and encourage adoption of USRSB Air and GHG metrics in its beef value chain?

Level 3

Is the company participating in a credible external system reporting for GHG emissions?

Has the company set credible GHG emissions targets?

Can the company demonstrate progress towards these targets?

Land Resources

Level 1 

Has the company assessed the deforestation risk to its beef value chain?

Level 2  

Is the retail/food service company working with organizations to support U.S. farmers and ranchers in developing and implementing grazing management plans?

Does the company have a no net deforestation policy for its beef value chain?

Water Resources

Level 1 

Has the company assessed the water risk of its operations and locations?

Level 2 

Does the company have a plan for water resource and risk management including both quantity and quality impacts? 

Has the company assessed the water risk of its direct beef suppliers?

Does the company engage suppliers and encourage adoption of USRSB water resource metrics in its beef value chain?

Level 3 

Is the company participating in a credible system for reporting water stewardship?

Has the company set water targets based on its assessments?

Can the company demonstrate progress towards these targets?

Does the company track performance on water stewardship in its beef value chain?

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Level 1  

Does the company have clearly documented policies and procedures around employee workplace safety and training programs?

Does the company require training on food safety and handling techniques for beef?

Level 2  

Does the company have a supplier code of conduct (or equivalent) that includes employee health and safety policies and have a system for tracking compliance of its beef suppliers?

Level 3  

Does the company track the number of direct company employees (not value chain) completing safety and training programs?

Animal Health & Well-Being

Level 1   

Does the company have a documented and publicly available animal care and handling policy?

Does the company encourage the adoption of USRSB metrics in its beef value chain?

Level 2   

Does the company verify compliance with its policy at least to the packer level?

Does the company have a policy for audit failures?

Level 3   

Does the company engage its suppliers on continuous improvement and emerging issues regarding animal health and well-being in its beef supply chain?

Does the company track and assess progress on animal health and well-being outcomes that align with its policy?

Efficiency & Yield

Level 1   

Has the company assessed food waste in its own operations?

Level 2   

Does the company have programs focused on reducing food waste in its operations, including beef waste?

Does the company have policies that encourage adoption of USRSB metrics and enable suppliers to find alternative uses for safe, wholesome, surplus products (beef, in particular)?

Level 3    

Does the company set targets and tract performance of its food waste reduction programs, including beef?

Does the company engage its direct suppliers and track performance on food waste reduction in its beef value chain?

Auction Market Metrics

Livestock auction markets act as an agent, facilitating a sales transaction between livestock buyers and sellers.

Recognizing that cattle only spend a very brief time (usually 48 hours, almost always less than a week) in the care of auction markets, the auction impact on water resources, animal health and well-being, and employee safety and well-being can still be substantial.

Water Resources

Are water resource management strategies implemented at the auction that address water management, water use optimization/conservation and water quality?

Employee Safety & Well-Being

Is an employee safety program in place?

Animal Health & Well-Being

Are employees trained and auction-specific Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) principles being implemented at the auction market?

Framework Resources

Do you want to take a more in-depth look at the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework? Take a look at the summary and full document to see more comprehensive take on the goals and high-priority indicators for each sector.

 DOwnload Summary   Download Full Framework 

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LEarn About Our Sustainability Goals

Do you want to learn about the USRSB sustainability goals for each high priority indicator with sector specific targets? 

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