September 14, 2020
Tyson Foods now first US food company to verify sustainable cattle production practices at scale
Tyson Foods has announced on September 9 its work to verify sustainable beef production practices on more than five million acres of cattle grazing land in the United States.
The action would be the largest beef transparency programme in the US, and part of Tyson Foods' focus on sustainably feeding the world while taking care of people, planet and animals.
Working with Where Food Comes From, the largest provider of certification and verification services to the food industry, Tyson Foods will source cattle from BEEFCARE™-verified beef producers who are committed to raising cattle using practices that positively impact the land and animals, and also want to promote it.
BeefCARE is a third-party sustainability verification programme for cattle ranchers. The programme uses third-party audits to verify that farmers and ranchers are using best practices in caring for animals, the environment, and the people and communities who support them.
BeefCARE standards include practices such as having a cattle grazing management plan to help promote vegetative growth and diversity, water availability and quality, prevent/reduce soil erosion and support carbon sequestration. More than 200 ranches are currently enrolled in the programme with plans to expand it over the next several years. The programme is recognised by the US Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
To ensure improved management of grasslands and rangelands, Tyson Foods will also work with The Nature Conservancy to evaluate and enhance the environmental components of the current BeefCARE programme. Nature Conservancy experts will provide input to Where Foods Comes From based on scientific analyses and land and livestock management experience.
"We recognise the importance of sustainable beef production practices that take care of people, the planet and animals," said Steve Stouffer, group president of Tyson Fresh Meats. "Our goal is to work with ranchers to verify and, when possible, improve those practices so that we can be transparent with our customers and consumers about how cattle in our supply chain are raised."
"Sustainability is a business imperative in the US beef industry to ensure long-term food production, economic security for ranchers and their communities, and a healthy environment for us all," said Dr. Sasha Gennet, director of Sustainable Grazing Lands for The Nature Conservancy in North America. "Tyson Foods is setting a great example of a company that is taking proactive steps to achieve a sustainable beef system that supports farmers and ranchers while improving our critical natural resources, including soil, water, and wildlife."
This latest initiative builds on Tyson Foods' goal for beef sustainability. In 2018, Tyson Foods became the first US protein company to license Progressive Beef, a quality management system designed for cattle feeding operators that sell to companies like Tyson Foods. Operators certified in the programme follow best practices for animal welfare, food safety, responsible antibiotic use and environmental sustainability. These practices are verified twice per year through USDA-approved auditors.
In 2020, Tyson Foods will purchase more than three million Progressive Beef-certified cattle, which represents more than half of the cattle in the company's supply chain.
Sustainability throughout the food system is fundamental to Tyson Foods' core values, which call on the company to "strive to serve as stewards of the resources entrusted to us," the company said.
Tyson Foods has previously set targets to improve land stewardship practices on two million acres of corn, partnered with the World Resources Institute to set science-based greenhouse gas reduction targets and is collaborating with the institute to establish contextual water targets, which take into consideration the entire watershed at 11 priority locations.