U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef Supported Projects

To promote and encourage continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain, the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef is dedicated to recognizing, as appropriate, other sustainability initiatives whose aims are consistent with our mission and vision. In that initiative, the USRSB has evaluated the following field and pilot projects that have requested support, based on their alignment to the USRSB Mission and Guiding Principles and Guidelines for Project Support, and has supported their efforts as they work to verify sustainability indicators and metrics.

For additional questions about project support, please click here or contact the USRSB Administrator at usrsb@beef.org


USRSB Supported Projects

Integrity Beef Sustainability Pilot Project

The USRSB issued its first Letter of Support in October 2017 to the Integrity Beef Sustainability Project. This project began earlier in 2017, when McDonald's USA, Tyson Foods, Noble Research Institute, Beef Marketing Group (BMG) and Golden State Foods announced a two-year pilot research project seeking methods to improve sustainability across the entire beef value chain. The project is designed to test metrics established by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and explore scalable solutions that could be applicable to beef production across the country. Cattle for the project will come from ranches that are members of the Integrity Beef Alliance. The Integrity Beef program emphasizes progressive ranch management, land stewardship and humane treatment of all livestock. To learn more about this project and the great work that they are doing, please click here.

University of Tennessee Institute for Agriculture Cow-Calf Metric Validation Project

The USRSB announced it's support in early 2018 of the University of Tennessee’s project proposal entitled Cow-Calf Metric Validation Project, which seeks project partners to help fund development of training and education modules inclusive of the USRSB Indicators and Metrics to be utilized in Tennessee Extension’s Master Beef Producer Program, which would bring USRSB’s Framework to tens of thousands of cow-calf producers across Tennessee. This project could be utilized as a model for developing other training and educational materials/programs across the country. For more information or if you or your company are interested in helping this project get off the ground please contact G. Bates.

Kansas State University, Beef Cattle Institute Connecting Supply Chain through Sustainability

The USRSB announced it's support in May 2018 of the Kansas State University, Beef Cattle Institute’s project proposal to submit a USDA Higher Education Planning Grant Application for their project entitled Connecting Supply Chain through Sustainability: Initiating a multi-disciplinary, multi-industry approach using the case of beef cattle. For questions or more information, please contact B. White.

JBS USA Pilot Project

As part of our commitment to demonstrate to our customers and consumers that beef is a beneficial and sustainable source of high-quality protein, we are piloting the adoption of the draft USRSB metrics across our fed cattle supply and in our processing facilities. The primary projected outcomes from our pilot project is to prove that industry adoption of our USRSB metrics is viable. Secondary outcomes will be the collection of individual self-assessment of more than 5.7 million head of feedlot cattle annually that enter our fed cattle processing plants. The successful implementation of this pilot will inform our decision to extend this approach across all of our processing plants, impacting more than 7.9 million head of cattle annually. For questions or more information, please contact K. Stackhouse.

University of California (UC), Davis - Animal Science Department, Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Project

Sustainable Beef Production: The Hows, Whats and Whys to Create a Producer Focused Sustainability Educational Program - We want to understand what motivates producers to join programs to their advantage and ultimately to the whole industry’s advantage. By learning from the success of the Beef Quality Assurance Program (BQA) we aim to create a producer-focused educational program that ensures the fluid and effective implementation of the USRSB Indicators and Metrics. For questions or more information, please contact J. Oltjen.

Merck Meat Calculator

Many are not familiar with the environmental benefits of specific production practices and technologies. By taking peer-reviewed published data, an individual can get a sense of how adopting different practices can affect land acres, water usage, and greenhouse gas emissions. By making different selections, one can get a feel for what might be necessary to positively or negatively affect some of their outcomes to make more informed decisions. Using published data, this tool gives individuals the ability to see within the North American production system how implementing different strategies might affect the outcomes of land acres, water resources, and kg CO2 produced. This calculator models for a producer or other interested party what the estimated effect on Water Usage, Land Acres, & GHG (kg CO2) is for various beef production practices that are traditionally used to affect Animal Health and/or Efficiency & Yield. For questions or more information, please contact J. Hodgen.

Kcoe-Isom, WWF, and Hy-Plains Feedyard Pilot Project

This pilot was conducted to build the business case for the use of better genetic selection in the beef breeding herd by quantifying the impact of cattle genetics and herd management decisions on both key environmental (GHGs, water for growing feed) and business outcomes (e.g. percent quality, carcass price, grid premium).For questions or more information, please contact K. Padilla.

Grass Run Farms-JBS USA - Grass Run Farms Sustainability Pilot

The primary projected outcomes for the Grass Run Farms Sustainability Pilot project is to prove that industry adoption of the USRSB metrics is viable. Secondary outcomes will be the collection of individual self-assessment of more than 5.7 million head of feedlot cattle annually that enter the observed fed cattle processing plants. The successful implementation of this pilot will determine if this approach is extended to additional processing plants, potentially impacting more than 7.9 million head of cattle annually. For questions or more information, please contact C. Bradbury.

The Nature Conservancy: A win-win plan for rangelands? Does implementing a Grazing Management Plan lead to improved ranch-scale productivity, land and water benefits, and profitability?

This project will seek to test the efficacy of implementing a Grazing Management Plan for ranch-scale forage productivity and profitability on working ranches across the US. Specifically, this project will also measure the impact of the USRSB Metric of "grazing management plans" (GMPs) on improving outcomes for USRSB Land Resources and Water Resources Priority Indicators and of "strategy implemented" in the form of a GMP on improving Efficiency and Yield (as expressed by profitability). The project may also be able to evaluate the impact of GMPs on Air and Greenhouse Gasses by extension of its impact on Land Resources. For questions or more information, please contact W. Burnidge.

University of Tennessee - Improving the Fescue: Belt Forage System for Greater, More Profitable, and Sustainable Cow-Calf Production

This project will investigate how changing forage diversity, specifically adding warm-season forages, will impact animal and agronomic production, pest pressure, soil health parameters, and overall economic profitability and sustainability. Forage and grazing management is a metric that impacts land, water and air/greenhouse gas metrics, as well as efficiency and yield. We will be evaluating changes in pest pressure, which is an important part of animal health/well-being. The educational program of this project will be teaching these practices, along with BQA (animal health and well-being indicator) along with several practices that will impact a producers production (efficiency and yield indicator). For questions or more information, please contact G. Bates.

Northern Great Plains Sustainable Beef Pilot

The Northern Great Plains (NGP) Sustainable Beef Pilot is a collaborative engagement process between all sectors of the beef supply chain to test the Sustainability Framework and its tools and resources in a way that is viable and practical for cow-calf producers in the NGP. While the pilot will initially involve a small group of stakeholders with traceability back to a select group of ranchers in the NGP, we will aim to ensure scalability and sustainable practices, particularly at the ranch-level in the NGP, are recognized and a foundation for further improvement is provided. For questions or more information, please contact N. Labbe.

Expanding and Testing the Utility of Land Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS)

The Nature Conservancy is conducting a study to expand and test the utility of Land Potential Knowledge System (LandPKS) – an Open Source Grazing Land Evaluation Tool for Ranchers. The project would further develop the tool to be more useful and increase its use by producers in the U.S. through workshops and outreach, as well as provide additional opportunities to share the tool with a broader community. For questions or more information, please contact T. Schulz.

Improving On-Ranch Sustainability: A Pilot Educational Program for Cow-Calf Producers Sustainable Ranch Management Workshop

Hosted by California Cattlemen's Association, this program will provide ranchers with intensive instruction in the development of ranch specific plans based on the metrics of the USRSB. Follow up surveys will asses the effectiveness of this type of program in encouraging change and on-going continuous improvement. It will also provide retail/food service partners and packers/processors the opportunity to engage with their supply chain through sponsor opportunities that are consistent with several of their metrics. For questions or more information, please contact M. Williams.

Montana Improved Grazing Carbon Project

This project explores using carbon credits as a lever to bring funding to producers and promote regenerative grazing practices. The project seeks to measure and increase soil carbon over a 30-year project, directly fund regenerative practices on 200,000 acres by 2021, reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the beef supply chain, and increase adoption of improved grazing practices on the Northern Great Plains. For questions or more information, please contact K. McKnight.


Ruminant Methane Efficiency Tool (RMET)

The RMET is a management tool for measuring operational efficiency and represents the environmental footprint of North American cattle operations. It consolidates multiple sources of operational data into a single framework with a common denominator – CO2e emitted per unit of production building upon the concept that carbon lost is money lost. For questions or more information, please contact K. Rockeman.


Examining the Practical On-Ranch Application and Benefits of Low-Stress Herding and Stockmanship Techniques

Diamond W Cattle Co and the University of California Cooperative Extension Service are partnering to document and demonstrate the efficacy and practicality of using stockmanship and low-stress herding in a production setting. Using GPS collaring of cattle and transect monitoring, the project expects to show that low-stress herding can 1) increase ranchers’ profitability (by increasing the number of livestock per unit area); 2) improve animal management (reduce the number of bulls needed, increase breeding percentage, etc.); and 3) positively support multiple ecosystem services (protecting water quality and sensitive riparian habitats, improving vegetation for wildlife habitat, and decreasing the risk of catastrophic wildfires).For questions or more information, please contact M. Williams.

ANCW Women In Ranching Education & Development (WIRED)

The American National CattleWomen’s Women in Ranching Education and Development (WIRED) program hosts hands-on workshops for producers across 15 different states. Participants undergo BQA and animal handling training, receiving tips from experts across the industry. Additionally, women attend sessions covering grazing management, being a good boss, transition planning, and technologies available in the industry. Three 2020 events are scheduled in California, Minnesota, and Oregon.For questions or more information, please contact J. Ginn.

Merck Cattle Care365

Cattle Care365 is an initiative from Merck Animal Health that supports cattle producers’ efforts to provide the best quality care for their animals. The program provides employee training and standard operating procedures, in English and Spanish, for feedyard, cow-calf and stocker producers, veterinarians, consultants and every stakeholder involved in the care and well-being of beef cattle. The resources are intended to complement and add value to the Beef Quality Assurance program. Learn more at CattleCare365.com. For questions or more information, please contact S. Meyers.


Cover Crop and Livestock Integration Project

Based in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Dakotas, this project incentivizes farmers to adopt cover crops and other soil health practices. This includes working with ranchers to integrate livestock into cropping systems to improve soil composition, nutrient/water cycling, and farm economics. Supporting viable grazing opportunities in this landscape helps protect remaining grasslands that provide vital wildlife habitat from being converted. Ducks Unlimited works with numerous partners to administers technical assistance and cost-share payments for adoption by willing landowners.


American Farmland Trust Sustainable Grazing Project

Through its Sustainable Grazing Project, American Farmland Trust works closely with several pilot producers in Virginia to assist with the adoption of regenerative grazing practices to protect natural resources while improving profitability for producers. On farm research and operation specific grazing management and conservation plans are being developed with an emphasis on the adoption of improved record keeping and technology. Due to their importance for sustainable production, efforts are also being made to improve markets and land access. Results from this pilot project will be conveyed using workshops, blog post, podcast, and case studies to help improve the awareness and adoption of such practices. This initial effort will be vital in developing protocols which can be used to replicate this project in other regions of the US.