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Location: Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research

Title: Environmental, social, and economic footprints of current and past beef production systems

item Stackhouse-lawson, K
item Rotz, Clarence - Al
item Isenberg, B
item Pollak, Emil
item Battagliese, T
item Ulhman, B
item Barcan, C
item Schulze, I
item Silva, J
item Reagan, J

Submitted to: American Society of Animal Science Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/1/2013
Publication Date: 7/7/2013
Citation: Stackhouse-Lawson, K.R., Rotz, C.A., Isenberg, B.J., Pollak, E.J., Battagliese, T., Ulhman, B., Barcan, C., Schulze, I., Silva, J., Reagan, J.O. 2013. Environmental, social, and economic footprints of current and past beef production systems. American Society of Animal Science Annual Meeting. J. Anim. Sci. 91 (E-Suppl. 2):679.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The beef industry has defined sustainability as meeting the growing demand for beef by balancing environmental responsibility, economic opportunity and social diligence. Accurately measuring sustainability is challenging, as the beef supply chain is one of the most complex food systems in the world. As the first and largest research project of this kind, this study represents an innovative approach toward creating a more sustainable beef product. Our objective is to establish a sustainability baseline (including environmental, economic, and social footprints) for the US beef industry by quantifying life cycle inputs and outputs for beef production over time. Our approach is to use a combination of models. The USDA-ARS Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) is used to simulate the environmental and economic footprints from cradle to farm-gate. The socio-eco-efficiency tool (SEEBALANCE®) extends this analysis by determining the environmental, economic, and social impacts of beef from cradle to grave providing a comprehensive assessment of sustainability. As an initial step, the environmental impacts and economics of beef production at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center were determined through simulation with IFSM. These results were combined with primary data from the packer, case ready, retail, and consumer segments of the beef value chain for 2005 and 2011 using SEEBALANCE®. This approach quantified sustainability considering economic social and ecological impacts along all segments of the beef value chain expressed in 0.45 kg of minimally processed boneless edible consumed beef. Environmental impacts included solid waste contributions, greenhouse gas emissions, ozone depleting potential, photochemical ozone creation potential, acidification potential, emissions to water, resource consumption, land use and energy consumption. Social impacts were measured using toxicity potential, occupation illnesses and accidents, and risk. Economics for the full chain were expressed in consumer price. Overall, the sustainability of the U.S. beef industry, given the present assumptions, has improved by 9% in 6 yr.