In 2017, Golden State Foods joined forces with the Integrity Beef Sustainability Pilot Project to help improve the sustainability of the entire beef production value chain and create a scalable model for the U.S. beef industry by aligning with the vision, indicators and metrics of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
Collaborators in this pilot are: The Noble Research Institute, Beef Marketing Group (BMG), Tyson Foods, Golden State Foods and McDonald’s. For the pilot, all participants are documenting and sharing information from each production phase to increase communication and efficiency throughout the supply chain.
GSF is involved in the processors sector of the supply chain by receiving the beef trimmings and forming them into 100% pure beef hamburgers. Now, after its first completed year, the Integrity Beef Sustainability Project has published their initial results from the pilot.
A few key results from the pilot, which followed 14 cow-calf producers for the project found:
- 3.4 average daily gain in pounds
- 5.8 feed efficiency in pounds
- 21% sickness
- 75% quality-grade
More impressively, one farm in particular outperformed some of those averages. The Blythe Family Farms, LLC, a producer in White City, Kansas manage 5,000 acres of grassland, and their operations include a registered black Angus cow herd from which they raise and sell bulls, and also manage a herd of 250 crossbred cows. Their operation only saw 9 percent sickness in their herd, compared to the 21 percent average, and saw a 4-pound average daily weight gain, versus the 3.4-pound average.
One of the key elements of this project was for each participant to utilize a self-assessment tool developed to help determine how each segment was progressing in the areas of sustainability. The tool offered by the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef allows each user to evaluate themselves in the areas of water resources, land resources, air and greenhouse emissions, efficiency and yield, animal health and well-being, and employee safety and well-being.
“Specifically, the tool made us consider not just how we perform versus prior years, but how are we performing against other operations and the industry,” said Dr. Wayne Morgan, Corporate Vice President and President, Protein Products and Sustainability, GSF and the current Chair-Elect for the USRSB. “Even though each facility must consider its own situation, in some cases there may be opportunities to propel us farther than we had assumed was possible. Second, it illuminated a fact that we are well aware of on the food safety and quality side: if you don’t document it, it doesn’t count.”