IndicatorIconsAirGHG_SMDefinition

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


COW & CALF


Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the cow-calf sector?

Cattle producers’ management decisions and activities can directly impact the health of pastures on which the cattle graze. The health of these pastures affects water retention and quality, soil health and ecological function, as well as carbon sequestration.


Metric

Has a grazing management plan (or equivalent) been implemented to protect or improve soil and plant community health, including soil carbon sequestration?

Why did we choose this metric?

Properly managed grazing can increase the carbon storage capacity of soil and reduce losses to the atmosphere. Many factors must be considered to do this and the most useful tool for cattle producers to manage all these factors, to increase carbon storage capacity of soil and reduce air and GHG emissions, is a grazing management plan (GMP). The fact that GMPs are central to improving so many different sustainability outcomes across water resources, land resources, and air and GHG emissions also makes it possible to advance diverse goals through a single integrated plan embedded in operations, which also increases the potential for increased metric adoption across the cow-calf sector.


Desired Outcomes

Improvements in the air and GHG emissions sustainability outcomes, based on implementation of a GMP, include:

  • Properly managed forages resulting in healthy and increased ground cover from plant and litter
  • This protects soil surface from wind and water erosion and holds and builds soils through increased organic matter that can aid in increased carbon sequestration
  • Through proper grazing, grassland fuel loads can be reduced, leading to reduced risk of high-intensity fires which reduces the potential for more than normal volumes of GHG emissions emitted to the atmosphere during a wildfire


Why do these outcomes matter for continuous improvement?

Managed grazing can increase the carbon storage capacity of soil and reduce losses to the atmosphere.


Success Criteria

Increasing the number of U.S. cow-calf producers who implement a GMP (or equivalent) that protects or improves soil and plant community health, including soil carbon sequestration.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Increasing the number of producers implementing GMPs in the U.S. can have a significant positive impact on air and GHG emissions by protecting and improving soil and plant community health and increasing the carbon storage capacity of soil to reduce losses to the atmosphere. A GMP can also improve water resources and land resources.

*State-specific resources are available to assist in the development of  grazing management plans.

Get State-specific Resources  



Auction Market

Cattle only spend a very brief time (usually 48 hours, almost always less than a week) in the care of auction markets. Therefore, it is observed that overall impact on air and greenhouse gas emissions would be minimal.

Auctions do recognize that other indicators and metrics may have a secondary supporting impact on air and greenhouse gas emissions and thus the initial focus of auction markets will be on the sustainability indicators for water resources, employee safety & well-being, and animal health and well-being.



FEEDYARD

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the Feedyard sector?

Air quality and addressing air emissions is a shared responsibility, including for feedyard owners and operators.


Metrics

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


Why did we choose this metric?

Each feedyard has different conditions to consider, and therefore, it is appropriate for this metric to allow for a strategy to manage all air and GHG emissions based on the specific characteristics of that operation. Feedyards that have strategies in place such as pen management for both wet and dry conditions, and feed processing management, can help mitigate air emissions associated with the outside nature of agricultural production. Feedyards that have strategies in place such as properly formulated rations to optimize animal performance, and feedyards that review use of fossil fuels and/or electricity can help mitigate GHG emissions. A feedyard that has a strategy in place to manage air and GHG emissions would not only reduce emissions but would also have a secondary benefit to the sustainability indicators of land resources, animal health and well-being and efficiency and yield.


Desired Outcomes

Collectively, the practices that are a part of a strategy to manage air and GHG emissions can:

  • Improve performance of the animalReduce feed required and therefore reduce overall outputs such as GHG and air emissions and wasteReduce excessive air emissions through management decisions that appropriately react to outside conditions


Why do these outcomes matter?

Each feedyard has different conditions to consider, and therefore, it is appropriate for this metric to allow for a strategy to manage all air and greenhouse gas emissions based on the specific characteristics of that operation. Feedyards should be aware of the environmental concerns and management strategies associated with six groupings of air emissions including: ammonia; methane and other greenhouse gases; volatile organic compounds; hydrogen sulfide; dust and other particulates; and odor. Production practices such as feed additives can reduce enteric methane emissions while improving yield and efficiency.


Success Criteria

Increase the adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework metric for air and GHG emissions in U.S. feedyards.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Increasing the number of feedyards developing and implementing strategies and management practices to mitigate air emissions will likely lead to positive air quality outcomes.



Packer & Processor

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the packer and processor sector?

Shifts in worldwide climate have the potential to impact global food production and sacrifice regional food security. Many of our modern technology adaptations and management practices help to lower the resource consumption and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from beef processing.


Metrics

Level 1 

Are strategies in place to optimize energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emission?

Level 2 

What is your company’s CO2e/head or CO2e/mass of finished product?

Level 3 

Does your company make CO2e public, track greenhouse gas and air emissions over time, set goals for continuous improvement, and participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further greenhouse gas reduction and improve air quality?


Why did we choose these metrics?

Packers and processors have tremendous opportunity to focus on what they can directly control—environmental performance within their plant walls. Improving energy efficiency is one of the easier and most cost-effective ways to combat climate change and improve the competitiveness of the packer or processing business. Through evaluation and improvement on environmental performance, packers and processors can continue to reduce emissions within their sector and increase awareness of the risk climate change has on agriculture, farmer livelihoods, and the ability to produce safe, wholesome food for years to come.


Desired Outcomes

Packers and processors that track progress with the air and GHG emissions metrics can have positive impacts that include:

  • Improved air quality with a focus on impacts on the local community, human health and the environment
  • Development of a greater understanding of emission sources and opportunities for emission reductions
  • Reduction of packer/processor air and GHG emissions impact on the climate
  • Development of better collaboration along the value chain on GHG emission reduction strategies


Why do these outcomes matter?

Packers and processors can continue to reduce emissions within their sector and increase awareness of the risk climate change has on agriculture, farmer livelihoods, and the ability to produce safe, wholesome food for years to come.


Success Criteria

  1.  Increased number of facilities who have strategies in place to optimize energy efficiency and reduce GHG emissions
  2.  Increased number of facilities who measure CO2e per head or CO2e per mass of finished product
  3.  Increased number of companies and facilities that are publicly reporting CO2e, tracking GHG and air emissions, setting targets to reduce GHG and air emissions and increase engagement and collaborating along the value chain


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

By focusing on reducing GHG emission, packers and processors have the opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas intensity, improve energy efficiency, and increase the use of renewable energy as a way to reduce the impact of the plant on climate change.



Retail & Food Service

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the retail and food service sector?

Significant greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are created by retail and food service activities. Retailers and food service providers should identify GHG emissions in their own operations, particularly from the main drivers of energy use, water use, coolant leakage, and food waste. Finding cost-effective means to reduce these drivers will reduce GHG emissions and operational costs for the sector.


Metrics

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?


Why did we choose these metrics?

Retailers and food service are able to identify GHG emissions in their own operations, particularly from the main drivers which include energy use, water use, coolant leakage, and food waste. Finding cost-effective means to reduce these drivers will reduce GHG emissions and operational costs for the sector. These metrics will provide retail and food service providers with key milestones for measuring progress across the spectrum of continuous improvement.


Desired Outcomes

Companies that develop and maintain plans that address the USRSB metrics have positive impacts on air and GHG emissions sustainability outcomes. The positive impacts include:

  • Increased awareness of GHG emissions
  • Improved industry tools for mitigating emissions
  • Increased transparency and reporting of GHG emissions
  • Increased operations working towards goals to reduce GHG emissions informed by science
  • Documentation of energy and GHG risk in operations


Why do these outcomes matter?

The desired outcomes will help retail and food service providers reduce their GHG emissions, and the metrics will provide the sector with key milestones for measuring progress across the spectrum of continuous improvement.


Success Criteria

  1.  Increased number of companies that assess energy and GHG risk
  2.  Increased use of a continuous improvement environmental management system
  3.  Engaged suppliers and encouraged adoption of U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework metrics in the supply chain
  4.  Increased tracking and assessment of progress on GHG or air emissions


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Addressing drivers of GHG emissions in operations, particularly the main drivers of energy use, water use, coolant leakage, and food waste, help retailers and food service providers reduce their impact on air emissions and climate change. Finding cost-effective means to reduce these drivers will reduce GHG emissions and operational costs for the sector.


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