IndicatorIconsWater_SMDefinition

                        The volume of water used by a sector for each process, and any impacts on water quality by a sector for each process.


Cow & Calf

Indicator

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

Managed grazing can reduce the amount of water required to sprout and grow plants, extend the growing phase of those plants, and increase the diversity of plant species in the pasture. It can also increase water infiltration into the soil, slowing run off, reducing erosion, and storing water in the ground, which extends the life of springs, creeks, and other riparian areas. Many of the same practices that produce healthier pastures have been shown to protect the quality of the water and integrity of riparian areas.


Metric

Is a grazing management plan (or equivalent) being implemented that maintains or improves water resources?


Why did we choose this metric?

The decisions and actions that cattle producers make in the management of their lands directly influence the health of those lands. Managed grazing plays a key role in maintaining healthy grasslands which provide important benefits for the water quality and quantity interacting with that grassland. The grazing management plans (GMPs) are key tools for producers to use to achieve their goals by optimizing the use of land and water resources relative to many factors. Implemented GMPs can provide the benefits outlined above for water resources while also delivering co-benefits for the land resources, air and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions indicators, and the overall performance of the grasslands.


Desired Outcomes

The use of GMPs is a powerful means of achieving:

  • Improved ground cover and root systems of forages, growing or dormant
  • A slowed rate of water runoff following precipitation events
  • Increased rates of water infiltration into soil
  • Reduced soil erosion
  • Increased water availability in plant rooting zones and percolation into the water table or aquifer
  • Protected and enhanced flows in groundwater dependent springs, creeks, and other riparian areas


Why do these outcomes matter?

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 water resources.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

A GMP can assist a producer to better plan for different scenarios (precipitation, forage, markets, etc.) to support adaptable decision-making. For example, a GMP appropriately tailored for a given cow-calf operation resource base and executed successfully can optimize forage production, improve ecological function, and promote healthy riparian areas.

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

Get State-specific Resources  



Auction Market

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the Auction Market sector?

Adopting a water resource management strategy at an auction market significantly impacts both water quantity and quality as well as maintaining and providing an adequate supply of clean water to animals.


Metric

Are water resource management strategies implemented at the auction that address water management, water use optimization/conservation, and water quality?


Why did we choose this metric?

Water resource management strategies allow the auction to monitor and put measures in place to optimize the usage of water, protect surface and groundwater quality, and utilize water wisely as a heat or dust control measure, as well as maintain and provide an adequate supply of clean water to animals. 


Desired Outcomes

A properly developed and implemented water resource management strategy can have positive effects related to water resources sustainability outcomes including:

  • Conserving water for future generations
  • Retaining and reusing storm water runoff
  • Recycling organic nutrients
  • Ensuring auction market practices are protective of surface and groundwater


Why do these outcomes matter?

Auction market operators are responsible for consumptive water use and ensuring water quality of ground and surface water resources. Retaining and reusing stormwater runoff can protect surface water quality, leading to reduced risk of issues such as eutrophication. Recycling manure nutrients collected at auction markets can provide a natural source of fertilizer for crop and forage production.


Success Criteria

Increased adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework water resources metric by auction markets.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Increased adoption of the water resources metric by auction market operations over time should lead to improved outcomes for responsible water use, and improved water quality for both surface and ground water resources.



FEEDYARD

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the feedyard sector?

Water resources are critically important to the successful management of a feedyard.


Metric

Are water resource management strategies implemented at the feedyard that address water management, water use optimization and conservation and water quality?


Why did we choose this metric?

Adopting a water resource management strategy at a feedyard impacts both water quantity and quality by allowing the feedyard to monitor and put measures in place to optimize and recycle water, as well as protect surface and groundwater quality. Additionally, water used for feed production will be addressed through the USRSB and Field to Market (FTM) partnership.


Desired Outcomes

A properly developed and implemented water resource management strategy can have positive effects related to water resources sustainability outcomes including, but not limited to:

  • Conserved water for future generations
  • Retained and reusing of storm water runoff
  • Recycled organic nutrients through crop production
  • Offset demand of local freshwater resources by using storm water runoff water to irrigate crops
  • Ensure feedyard practices are protective of surface and groundwater


Why do these outcomes matter?

Feedyards are uniquely positioned to capture stormwater runoff with associated nutrients and utilize the water and nutrients to produce feed. This water that would otherwise go unused reduces irrigation demand on local water supplies. This sustainability metric also has an impact on land resources and animal health and well-being because it provides a process for appropriately applying nutrients from captured water to improve and protect soil quality as well as maintaining and providing an adequate supply of clean water to animals.


Success Criteria

Increase the number of feedyards implementing water resource management strategies.

How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Feedyard owners’ and operators’ management decisions related to water resources can have a significant positive effect on outcome-based metrics associated with water resources.



Packer & Processor

Indicator

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

Water resources stewardship is crucial to the long-term viability of the packer and processor sectors. Industry-wide, water resource stewardship should be defined at the local level and used to inform corporate programs and best practices. Each facility needs the flexibility to respond to unique local challenges and determine the most effective water resource stewardship approach for that location. Furthermore, water plays a critical role in food safety, and its use must be carefully balanced with that end in mind.


Metrics

Level 1 

Is a water resource management plan implemented at the facility?

Level 2 

How many wastewater permit non-compliances has the facility had in the previous calendar year?  What is the water use in gallons/head/day (packers) or gallons/pound of beef processed (processors)?

Level 3 

Does the company track discharge water quality over time? Does the company have set goals for continued improvement? Does the company make water performance efforts public? Does the company participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance water resource management?


Why did we choose these metrics?

Water plays an important role in beef packing and processing plants being critical to sanitation and food safety. Even so, it is a controllable element, and in most cases, facilities have (or could have) the ability to measure its use. Further, in the U.S., there are often regulatory requirements that can be leveraged for tracking and goal setting at the facility and company level. Through identification of current state, setting goals for continued improvement, being transparent regarding progress, and working with the industry, the packer and processor segment can better utilize water resources.


Desired Outcomes

Packers and processors that implement strategies addressing the water resources metrics can have positive effects related to water resources sustainability outcomes. The positive effects include:

  • Improvement of water optimization
  • Improvement of water planning and stewardship
  • Gaining a greater understanding of associated risk related to water quantity and quality
  • Implementation of locally-relevant strategies to optimize water resource stewardship
  • Improvement of collaboration along the value chain related to water stewardship

Why do these outcomes matter?

These outcomes will drive continuous improvement in water utilization within the packer and processor facilities and companies.


Success Criteria

  1.  Increase in number of facilities that have a water resource management plan implemented
  2. Reduction in number of wastewater permit non-compliances
  3. Reduction in water use in gallons/head/day (packers) or gallons/pound of beef processed (processors)
  4. Increase in number of companies with goals for continued improvement
  5. Increase in number of companies that make water performance efforts public
  6. Increase in number of companies that participate in partnerships, initiatives or programs to further advance water resource management

How do these metrics continuously improve beef sustainability?

Through identification of current state, setting goals for continued improvement, being transparent regarding progress and working with the industry, the packer and processor segment can better utilize water resources.



Retail & Food Service

Indicator

Why is this indicator important to the retail sector?

Of the water used for U.S. commercial and industrial purposes, 15 percent is consumed by the restaurants primarily for dish washing and restroom facilities. Utilizing water conservation practices can decrease operating costs over 10 percent and reduce water and energy use. The business case is clear: wasted water comes with a cost. Retail and food service organizations that strategically invest in water management and reduction solutions will reap the financial benefits.While improved water management is the target for the retail and food service sector, it is important to recognize that net water reduction is not always the desired objective due to food handling and food safety priorities. For this reason, the metrics for this indicator are designed to highlight the importance of awareness, management, planning, continuous improvement and broader engagement with suppliers, industry, and relevant stakeholders.


Metrics

Level 1 

Has the company assessed the water risk of its operations and locations?

Level 2 

Does the company have a plan for water resource and risk management including both quantity and quality impacts? Has the company assessed the water risk of its direct beef suppliers? Does the company engage suppliers and encourage adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework water metrics in its beef value chain?

Level 3

Is the company participating in a credible system for measuring and reporting for water stewardship? Has the company set water targets based on its assessments? Can the company demonstrate progress towards these targets? Does the company track performance on water stewardship in its beef supply chain?


Why did we choose this metric?

Wasted water comes with a cost; retail and food service organizations that strategically invest in water management and reduction solutions will reap the financial benefits while also improving water resources sustainability outcomes. Reduced water use and improved water quality are key impact areas that are critical to the continuous improvement of the beef value chain.


Desired Outcomes

Companies that develop and maintain plans that address the above water resources metrics can have positive impacts on water resources sustainability outcomes. The positive impacts include:

  • Improved water planning and stewardship at operations.
  • Development of better collaborations between retail and food service operations and their suppliers on water stewardship
  • Greater understanding of issues surrounding water resources
  • Broader engagement around common industry tools
  • Implementation of locally relevant water resource strategies


Why do these outcomes matter? 

Water stewardship is a practice that is applicable across the beef supply chain. The retail sector contribution looks at locally relevant solutions that will impact water stewardship and has a responsibility to be good stewards of water conservation.


Success Criteria

Increased number of companies that assess water risk; implement plans for water resource and risk management including quantity and quality; engage suppliers and encourage adoption of the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework metrics in the supply chain; and measure and report water stewardship.


How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

Reduced water use and improved water quality are key impact areas that are critical to the continuous improvement of the beef supply chain.


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