Land Resources

Indicator Definition

The stewardship of terrestrial and aquatic habitats in relation to water, soil, and biodiversity. Impacts of land use and land use conversion, both caused by and prevented by ranching and farming activities and other supply chain land use decisions.

Why is this indicator important to the retail sector?

The retail and food service sectors recognize the important role that cattle production and grazing can play in conserving natural landscapes, preserving natural habitat and improving the overall condition of land and soil health. Land resources provide critical ecosystem services, such as wildlife habitat, biodiversity, carbon storage, productivity and forage for livestock, water filtration, climate regulation and clean air.  Recognizing that retail and food service providers seldom have direct influence on significant land resource impacts through their operations, the retail and food service sector’s Land Resources metrics and sustainability assessment guide focuses on a company’s ability to influence in its supply chain.

Metrics

Level 1 − Has the company assessed the deforestation risk in its beef supply 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?

Why did we choose these metrics?

Recognizing that retail and food service providers seldom have direct influence on significant land resource impacts through their operations, the retail and food service sector’s land resources metrics focuses on a company’s ability to influence in its value chain. The Retail and Food Service Sector recognizes the importance of maintaining intact grasslands and supports the adoption of grazing management plans as described in the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework cow-calf sector metrics. Recognition of cattle as “up-cyclers” utilizing forage to produce protein and maintain habitat for grassland species in the U.S. will help mitigate land impacts. However, deforestation has been identified as a material risk for companies sourcing international beef. Therefore, this metric only applies to companies sourcing both domestic and international beef.

Desired Outcomes

Companies that develop and maintain plans that address the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework metrics have positive impacts on land resources sustainability outcomes. The positive impacts include:

  • Preservation of the biological resources dependent on grazed land
  • Minimized adverse environmental and social impacts of land resource uses
  • Increased beef production that drives land conservation practices

Why do these outcomes matter?

Deforestation is a contributor to climate change and needs to be recognized as a threat to the sustainability of the beef industry globally. In some beef producing countries around the world, expansion of beef producing areas has been identified as a driver of deforestation or land conversion in high conservation value areas.

Success Criteria

1.   Increased number of companies who assess deforestation risk

2.   Adoption of a no net deforestation policy

3.   Implementation of environmental and community engagement policies to mitigate land impacts

How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Adoption of deforestation policies by the retail and food service sector will result in decreased impact on climate change. Foundational commitments also set the stage for more recognition of the positive impacts of grassland conservation. Finally, recognition of cattle as “up-cyclers” utilizing forage to produce protein and maintain habitat for grassland species in the U.S. will help mitigate land impacts.

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