A pound of beef takes about 17 per cent less water to produce than it once did, new research being released by the beef industry this week will show.
The findings are part of ongoing efforts to measure how the Canadian beef industry has been lightening its environmental footprint as it improves productivity efficiencies since 1981.
Other research has identified a 15 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and 24 per cent less land now required to raise that same amount of beef.
The findings were shared by Beef Cattle Research Council spokesperson Tracy Herbert while in MacGregor at a town hall meeting on some of the research where national checkoff-funded research that helps address public questions around the environmental impact of beef production.
And it’s just one example of what the BCRC is doing with checkoff allocation for research, Herbert told the gathering of about 70 producers.
Other areas it focuses on include beef quality, food safety and health, and forage and grassland productivity as well as developing extension resources for producers all made available on BCRC’s website.
“The BCRC will probably never have the resources to have boots on the ground as specialists but we can make sure that solid and reputable and relevant information is freely available to everybody with an internet address,” she said.
She and other speakers from the National Check-Off Agency, Canada Beef, and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association also spoke of their specific role in advancing Canada’s National Beef Strategy, with its four goals of increasing connectivity across the sector and with consumers, boosting production efficiency, reducing cost disadvantages that impact competitiveness and boosting beef demand.
“We’re out at events like tonight so that you know what we do and why we do it,” said Melinda German, general manager of the National Check-Off Agency, who gave an overview of how the checkoff is collected.
Vice-president of corporate affairs Ron Glaser talked about Canada Beef’s work in marketing to boost demand both domestically and internationally, highlighting what’s happening in export markets and Canada Beef’s work to advance the National Strategy.
Both domestic and international customers are eating more Canadian-raised beef, but with more competition from other beef exporters, staying the course and further boosting demand will intensify consumer-directed programming, he said.
The increased checkoff allocation to Canada Beef will be used to strengthen existing consumer-directed programs, he said, noting that the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence envisions doubling business generated for Canadian partners. To date it has already helped generate an estimated $380 million in new Canadian beef business.
Tom Lynch-Stauton, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association issues manager, also spoke in MacGregor describing that agency’s efforts to increase public trust in the beef industry. Their job is to help tell the beef production story through training industry spokespersons to talk to media and effectively engage with the public, he said.
“How do we get people to listen? It’s a huge challenge and we need to do this as an entire industry.”
The federal checkoff, which began 18 years ago, will increase from $1 to $2.50 in 2018, with the increase taking effect in Manitoba April 1.
The additional monies are needed because existing funding was no longer enough to cover all the priorities for the industry, German said, noting inflation combined with lessening investment at the provincial and federal level has left that $1 now worth 70 cents.
German also spoke of work done to determine actual return on investment (ROI) to producers from national checkoff, noting a 2010 study showed ROI was $9 for every $1 while a repeat study done in 2016 showed a $14 return for every $1.
Projections for next year’s increased checkoff will see 60 per cent put toward marketing, 28 per cent to BCRC for research and just over four per cent to Issues Management. Around 7.5 per cent will go back into the provinces to do regional programming with national impact.
Heinz Reimer, District 4 director for Manitoba Beef Producers said in an interview afterward it is clear to him checkoff dollars are well invested.
“People will say, ‘Where is that actual dollar? I haven’t seen it in my pocket?’” he said.
“I believe we have seen those dollars in our pockets. Had it not been for what these agencies like Canada Beef and Issues Management and all those people do for the industry we would probably be receiving quite a bit less for the cattle that we produce.”