Goals & Progress
Setting ambitious and strategic goals is critical to making continual sustainability improvements. Building on the CRSB’s National Beef Sustainability Strategy set in 2016, the Canadian Beef Industry came together to establish a suite of long-term strategic improvement goals, looking towards 2030.
This suite of long-term goals addresses a diverse range of key topic areas, and demonstrates how we are collaborating to address continual improvement. These goals highlight the role of the Canadian beef sector as integral for climate change mitigation, conserving biodiversity and our natural ecosystems, supporting people and communities, embracing innovation, and our contribution to a sustainable food system.
We want Canadians to know that we share their concerns around climate change and the need for a resilient food supply. Raising cattle in Canada is good for the environment and these goals how we are striving to make every sector of the industry even better.
Alberta rancher and President, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (2020-22)
Learn more about the goals below. Progress will be updated as new data becomes available.
Our Main Goals
To promote awareness and encourage adoption of the five principles of beef sustainability.
To build consumer confidence in the sustainability of Canadian beef.
To demonstrate and communicate sustainability results and impact.
To support growth and positive reputation of the Canadian beef industry through a strengthened commitment to sustainability.
Goal Setting Process
Canadian Beef Sustainability Goals
The National Beef Sustainability Strategy outlined 10 key continuous improvement goals, with specific action items and key performance indicators to track progress over time. Expand each of the goals below to learn more about the 2016 baseline, and 2030 Canadian Beef Industry Goals that are further addressing these sustainability strategic goals for Canadian beef.
Build a stronger and more unified beef sustainability community
The CRSB has grown to over 110 members and observers since 2014.
Membership includes a diverse cross-section of organizations and companies across the whole beef chain from farmers and ranchers to processors to retail and foodservice companies, environmental and animal care groups, businesses that support beef production, scientific researchers, academic institutions and government representatives.
Learn more on our Membership page.
Nearly 60 member representatives contribute to CRSB Council and Committees
Canadian Beef Advisors represented by seven national beef organizations oversee Canada’s National Beef Strategy. These organizations, as well as scientific experts and farmer/rancher representatives developed the 2030 Canadian Beef Industry Goals.
Reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of Canadian beef per unit of beef produced
- The carbon footprint of Canadian beef production is 30.8 kg CO2 eq. per kg packed boneless beef from farm to fork, which is less than half of the global average for beef production
- 1.5 Billion tonnes of carbon is stored on land used for beef production in Canada
- Beef production contributes only 2.4% of Canada’s total emissions
The carbon footprint to produce 1kg of Canadian beef decreased 15% between 1981 and 2011 (Legasse et al, 2015)
- Reduce primary production GHG emission intensity by 33% by 2030
- Safeguard the existing 1.5 billion tonnes of carbon stored on lands managed with beef cattle
- Sequester an additional 3.4 million tonnes of carbon every year
Enhance ecosystem services and biodiversity on lands managed by beef producers
- 68% of Canada’s wildlife habitat capacity is found on only 1/3 of the agricultural land in Canada. Much of this land is managed by beef farmers and ranchers (CRSB, 2016).
- Conservation groups work hand in hand with Canadian beef farmers and ranchers to conserve natural ecosystems. Learn more in this short documentary: Guardians of the Grasslands.
- Farmers and ranchers certified under CRSB’s Certified Sustainable Beef Framework are audited for their practices related to conserving native ecosystems and maintaining habitat for wildlife and species at risk
- Government-supported programs such as Species At Risk Partnerships on Agricultural Lands help beef producers implement projects that help conserve habitat for specific at-risk species
Maintain the 35 million acres of native grassland in the care of beef producers
Maintain healthy functioning ecosystems through well-managed grazing systems that maintain sustainable plant communities and healthy rangelands
Enhance riparian health and reduce the water footprint of beef production.
It requires 631 L surface and groundwater to produce 1 kg beef, accounting for water use from farming through consumption. Much of the water used in the farming stage falls as what’s called “green water”, regardless of whether it is used by livestock or not.
The water use intensity of Canadian beef production decreased by 17% between 1981 and 2011. (Legesse et al, 2017)
Promoting practices that maximize water quality and retention for healthy landscapes, increased resilience to drought and flood.
Improve water use efficiency in the beef supply chain
Share the benefits of grassland ecosystems, such as:
- Wetland protection
- Wetlands as carbon sinks
- Filtration of nutrients for water quality and reducing pollution
- Resilience to drought and flood events
- Groundwater replenishment and future water availability
Reduce post-harvest meat waste
Approximately 1/3 of all food produced worldwide every year for human consumption, is wasted.
In Canada, over 60% of food produced is lost or wasted; 32% of this amount is avoidable (secondharvest.ca)
A total of 19% of edible meat is wasted through processing (5%), retail (4%) and the consumer (10%) (CRSB, 2016). Reducing this by 50% could save up to 31 billion litres of water and avoid the release of 1.6 Megatonnes CO2 eq. per year.
Reduce food loss and waste (from processing to consumer) by 50%.
Support consumer education on food preparation, freezing preparation, packaging and labelling.
Packaging innovations that enhance food shelf life and reduce waste
Promote farm safety and responsible working conditions
Canadian beef production ranks as low risk for most indicators of working conditions. For example, on-farm fatality rates declined on average 1.1% per year between 1990 and 2012 (Canadian Agriculture Injury Report, 2016).
Significant investments in worker health and safety measures have been implemented over the past few years, especially in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Increased mental health supports for Canadian farmers and ranchers, like Do More Ag Foundation: https://www.domore.ag/about-us
Rights of temporary foreign workers, fatality rates at the supplier level, wages for retail and food-service workers and workload for farmers and ranchers are areas for improvement.
Create a culture of safety across the beef supply chain.
Reduce serious, fatal, and fatigue-related incidents by 1.5% per year
Support education, awareness and improvements in farm and ranch safety
Promote excellence in animal care
A Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle outlines required and recommended practices for animal care in Canada. It forms the foundation for Animal Health & Welfare indicators in the CRSB’s Sustainable Beef Production Standard, verified through 3rd party audits on CRSB Certified farms and ranches. As of 2016, 62% of Canadian beef farmers and ranchers had implemented all of the requirements
There has been a 20% increase in use of pain control measures between 2013 to 2017.
Ensure the five freedoms – health, environment, behaviour, nutrition and mental state – of animal wellbeing:
- Increasing reproductive efficiency by over 8% (to 92%)
- Utilizing practices that support animal welfare such as breed selection, polled (no horned) animals and pain relief
Establishing and using a surveillance system to monitor animal care practices across Canada
Support the further development, monitoring and dissemination of best practices regarding antimicrobial use
A vet-client relationship is required for use of animal health products.
Canada contributed to development of a Global Statement on Antimicrobial Stewardship (GRSB, 2019).
Ensure preservation of existing and future antimicrobial effectiveness to support human and animal health
- Continue to develop monitor and share best practices for antimicrobial use
- Quantify and describe baseline antibiotic use practices in Canadian feedlot production
- Determine and monitor antibiotic resistance profiles in bacteria of concern in feedlot cattle
Increase financial viability of beef production in Canada
Beef production is a small margin business, and investment is a long-term game. Farmers and ranchers face many unforeseen circumstances beyond their control (i.e. weather, price fluctuations).
PWhat does it mean for a Canadian farmer to be economically sustainable?
- At minimum, return the cost of capital;
- Fund all operating expenses of the farm or ranch through internal working capital;
- Pay employees AND owners at least the average standard wage;
- Have the ability to repay debt principle;
- Maintain a safe level of equity (85%)
- Provide for the ability of independent retirement of owners;
- Enable farm or ranch succession, while maintaining an intact family structure
- Survive and prosper long-term without the erosion of environmental capital
Increase demand for Canadian beef through consumer awareness of sustainable practices
First of its kind in the world for beef sustainability, the Certified Sustainable Beef Framework, known as “CRSB Certified”, verifies sustainable practices in Canadian beef production and processing through a 3rd party audited system, against sustainability standards in five areas: Natural Resources, People and Community, Animal Health and Welfare, Food, Efficiency and Innovation. Beef sourced from farms and ranches certified to the standards is tracked at all points in the supply chain, enabling qualifying sustainable beef sourcing claims. The program improves trust in the sustainability of Canadian beef, delivered through a Certification Mark.
As of June 30, 2021, over 17% of the Canadian cattle herd is raised on farms and ranches certified to sustainability standards set by the CRSB.
Eight companies are sourcing through the program, and over 17 million lbs. of beef have been sold with a CRSB Claim since 2018.
Check out our Projects Inventory for details on many projects being done by our stakeholders industry partners and researchers to achieve these goals.
All aspects of the beef supply chain work together to improve sustainability. Learn more about our environmental sustainability practices, answer your questions, and read farmers stories.