Alberta will be the meeting ground for the world’s sustainable beef leaders when the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef is held in Banff in October.
The inaugural version of the conference, held in Denver six years ago, gave birth to the “sustainable beef” movement through the creation of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. That, in turn, led to the founding of a Canadian roundtable and, ultimately, McDonald’s decision to pick Canada for its sustainable beef pilot.
Hosting this year’s conference is “a big deal” and recognition of Canada’s leading role in the sustainable beef effort, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and current president of the global roundtable.
“With how we’re moving forward with our Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, it sounds like it was a perfect fit,” said Laycraft. “We’ll be doing some fantastic work with that group.”
The global roundtable has just adopted a new five-year strategic plan, he noted.
“With that, there’s a lot of focus on how we are assisting and encouraging the country and regional roundtables that are developing,” he said. “We’re fortunate that Canada has one of the most active roundtables in the world.”
The conference, co-hosted by the Canadian roundtable, is being held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel from Oct. 4-7. It will welcome 250 to 300 participants from Australia, Europe, South America, Mexico, Canada and the U.S. Participants will include beef producers, processors, retailers, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders in the global beef sector.
Sessions will highlight different parts of the strategic plan, as well as success stories and successful strategies from roundtables around the world.
Since the meeting is global in nature, some sessions will deal with issues that may not be applicable in Canada, such as deforestation in Central and South America.
“With sustainability, it’s not really one size fits all,” said Laycraft. “Each part of the world has different circumstances and different factors that you’ll be looking at.”
The goal isn’t to promote one type of beef production, he said.
“It’s about how you are doing all these things taking care of the environment; allowing the farmers and ranchers to make a living doing it; and at the same time, meeting the social expectations that are growing around the world. This will hopefully be a terrific forum to have that dialogue.”
The conference was actively promoted at the recent inaugural Canadian Beef Industry Conference and will conclude with a meeting of the Canadian roundtable.
“Our beef industry conference was over 600 registrants, and we don’t have a facility large enough for that,” said Laycraft. “This is more targeted to people who are very engaged in sustainability initiatives around the world and how we are working to move to the next step. We’re really looking at more information sharing through our data platform, so we’re more effectively communicating what the real benefits of the cattle industry are.”
Other conferences were held in Brazil and the Netherlands. For more information, see grsbeef.org.