IndicatorIconsLand_SMDefinition

                        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.


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 maintenance, improvement and protection of land resources in a cow-calf operation is fundamental to all aspects of beef sustainability, from the economic bottom line of optimizing forages, to animal and natural resources health.


Metric

Is a grazing management plan (or equivalent) being implemented to protect and/or improve the land resources, including succession/transition planning?

Why did we choose this metric?

Optimizing land resources requires the consideration of many factors, including soil type, climate, vegetative cover, wildlife and their habitat, soil ecological function, cattle health requirements, invasive species (including plants), and many others. The most useful tool for cattle producers to manage all of these factors to maintain and improve land resources is a grazing management plan (GMP). The GMPs are also powerful tools for helping producers adapt management plans and actions to or mitigate risks like drought, wildfire, market fluctuations, and accidents where the outcomes are positive for the land and allow the operation to maintain economic viability. Well-conceived and implemented GMPs can provide the benefits outlined above for land resources while also delivering co-benefits for the water resources, air and GHG emissions indicators, and the overall performance of the grazing operation.


Desired Outcomes

A range of improvements in land resources sustainability outcomes can be attained through GMPs including:

  • Creation of optimum conditions for plant regrowth that proper grazing management supports
  • Maintained healthy root systems and an associated healthy microbiology of the soil
  • Healthy ecosystems and ecological processes, which
    • Increase resilience to climate, invasive species, wildfire, and other stresses and
    • Promote biological diversity and productive wildlife habitat
  • Increased carrying capacity of the grassland for livestock and wildlife over time


Why do these outcomes matter for continuous improvement?

Many of the same practices that improve forage production have been shown to protect the supply and quality of the water and the integrity of riparian areas. Maintaining healthy pastures and grasslands has important benefits for water quality and quantity. Grazing refines and maintains this ecological service, both ecologically and economically.


Success Criteria

Increasing the number of U.S. cow-calf producers who implement a GMP (or equivalent) that maintains or improves land resources.

How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Optimizing land resources requires the consideration of many factors, including soil type, climate, vegetative cover, wildlife and their habitat, soil ecological function, cattle health requirements, invasive species (including plants), and many others. The most useful tool for cattle producers to manage all these factors to maintain and improve land resources is a GMP.

*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 land resources would be minimal.


Based on the limited number of auctions having a land resource footprint to the extent of other sectors, the auctions will maintain their initial focus on the sustainability indicators for water resources, employee safety and well-being, and animal health and well-being.



FEEDYARD

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the Feedyard sector?

Proper management, improvement and protection of land resources that are owned or operated by the feedyard are focused on utilizing manure and stormwater runoff to provide water and organic nutrients to crops. The feedyard facility itself (i.e., cattle pens, feedmill, feed storage areas) is addressed in the water resources indicator.


Metric

Has a nutrient management strategy or plan been implemented?


Why did we choose this metric?

A feedyard owner and operator who implements a nutrient management strategy or plan will have a significant impact on the sustainability indicators of land resources and water resources as listed above. Application of nutrient-rich wastewater can reduce the need for artificial or commercial fertilizer, increasing the probability of the feedyard and potentially other nearby farms by providing an economically feasible and readily-available source of nutrients. This is also a positive impact on the sustainability indicator of air and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The efficient recycling of nutrients through a nutrient management strategy, or plan, in most cases will also reduce air and GHG emissions.


Desired Outcomes
A feedyard owner and operator who implements a nutrient management strategy or plan will have a significant impact on land resources sustainability outcomes. Outcomes of such a strategy or plan include:

  • Managing wastewaterMonitoring soil healthPrescribing the proper application rates of nutrients to crops and pastures
In many areas of the U.S., feedyards procure feed inputs from other farmers, elevators, commodity buyers or neighbors. In those instances, the feedyard does not have any control over the land where those commodities were grown and in most cases the feed inputs, such as corn, are not traceable to a specific farm.


Why do these outcomes matter?

The ability for all feedyards, no matter their size or location, to develop a plan that works for their operation will be key to making significant strides in beef sustainability. Due to differences in soil types, climate, and other factors, it is important for feedyards to base such strategy or plan on the best regional data and resources. Improving nutrient management through the adoption of this metric will have positive incomes on land stewardship, water resources, and potentially offset fertilizer requirements for feed crop production.


Success Criteria

Increasing adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework land resources metric on feedyards in the U.S.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Increasing the number of feedyards developing and implementing a nutrient management plan in the U.S. can have a significant positive effect on outcome-based metrics associated with land resources. Any measurable progress toward increasing the proportion of U.S. feedyards that implement a nutrient management plan will be recognized as continuous improvement in this area.



Packer & Processor

Indicator

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

Packers and processors are responsible for maintaining and protecting the land associated with their property, including water and soil ecosystems.


Metric

Does the company have initiatives and/or explore opportunities to mitigate land and biodiversity impacts from new facility developments?


Why did we choose this metric?

In general, manufacturing facilities have a relatively small land footprint but one significant point of impact to land would be at site selection when considering new developments. Considering the environmental impact of a new facility is a prudent practice to allow a company to address potential issues prior to a construction project and improve upon land resources sustainability outcomes.


Desired Outcomes

Packers and processors that have initiatives and/or explore opportunities to mitigate land and biodiversity impacts to new facility developments can have positive effects related to land resources sustainability outcomes. The positive effects include:

  • Development of sustainable land management practices within facility guidelines for new facility development and/or remodeling
  • Demonstration of land management considerations with future plans


Why do these outcomes matter?

Giving consideration to the environmental impact of a new facility is a prudent practice to allow a company to address potential issues prior to a construction project.


Success Criteria

Increase the number of companies who have initiatives and/or explore opportunities to mitigate land and biodiversity impacts to new facility developments.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

It promotes increased number of companies to use sustainable land management guidelines for new facility development and/or remodeling.



Retail & Food Service

Indicator

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 landMinimized adverse environmental and social impacts of land resource usesIncreased 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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