AUSTRALIA'S leading certified grass-fed beef and lamb program, Great Southern, has announced the inclusion of its first sustainability framework in response to evolving consumer expectations.
As part of Great Southern's Farm Assurance Program, lamb and cattle producers, via a producer advisory committee, have developed the sustainability framework to ensure their on-farm practices meet the evolving expectations of customers and consumers.
"We're committed to sustainability today for the future, so it is critical that we continue to evolve our on-farm standards to align with our customers' expectations," said Sam McConnell, Chief Operating Officer of the JBS Southern Division.
"The new Great Southern sustainability framework is aligned with the broader JBS sustainability program and our stakeholder's ESG commitments," said McConnell.
The sustainability framework was developed in conjunction with producers and customers.
"Farmers have been valuing the environment and animal wellbeing, on farm, for decades. This sustainability framework is about capturing those practices in a formalised way to communicate their outcomes," said Mark Inglis, Farm Assurance and Supply Chain Manager for JBS Southern.
The Farm Assurance sustainability component comprises seven pillars, with each pillar contributing to the sustainable future of the Great Southern Program. Producer's data is measured and recorded via third-party auditors.
"This will allow us to benchmark the overall program using a simple sustainability index to explain both to customers and producers where the Great Southern Program sits in regard to these pillar outcomes. It will give us a starting point that will allow us to work from into the future," said Mr Inglis.
The seven pillars are:
- Soils: Understanding soils and the importance of a healthy balance
- Pastures: Matching the right mix of pastures to the environment they are grown in
- Vegetation: Protect soil coverage, assist in maintain healthy waterways, and recognise current and past efforts
- Water: Ensuring the use of quality water and managing the water usage for maintaining stock health and maximising animal and plant production
- Livestock: Ensuring the wellbeing of our livestock is of paramount importance.
- People: Providing a healthy and safe workplace environment for employees, families and owners
- Carbon management: Assessing the current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within the Great Southern value chain to enable a working baseline for improvement. Achieve a net zero position for Great Southern Farm Assurance in line with the global JBS net-zero GHG emissions by 2040 target.
The Great Southern Farm Assurance Program brings together nearly 4,000 beef and lamb producers (from NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australian) to capture the responsible practices they use on-farm and develop ways to promote them directly to customers.
A new certification logo will be used on all lamb and beef products produced under the program.
"The Farm Assurance Program pledges to customers that their grass-fed beef and lamb has met rigorous quality and sustainability standards. When customers see products come into their restaurant or store with a Farm Assurance logo, they will know producers have ticked all the boxes - from animal welfare to responsible water use," said Mr Inglis.
"With the introduction of this new certification logo, customers have an additional reminder of how our producers are putting quality and sustainability first."
JBS Southern's Head of Beef Sales Domestic and Export Robert Ryan, said with consumers continuing to put their trust in sustainable brands and products, the sustainability program must be engrained in all broader JBS Southern initiatives to remain a leader in the industry.
"Transparency of value chains and communicating the sustainability story throughout the entire value chain will be critical and a customer expectation in the future," Mr Ryan said.
JBS Global UK Managing Director Nick Sherwood, said the inclusion of the Great Southern Farm Assurance sustainability framework will be well suited to the UK market following the new Free Trade Agreement.
"As the UK FTA comes into force and with the increased focus on sustainability and carbon reduction in agriculture, this sustainability framework boosts Great Southern Beef and Lamb's credentials in the UK market," Nick Sherwood said.
As well as the seven pillars, Great Southern has a commitment to plant one million trees to offset GHG emissions produced by its value chain.
"We will be planting native trees and native shrubs on JBS-owned properties and assisting our Producers across southern Australia in planting the trees on their properties," Mr McConnell said.
"Where there is need for additional carbon offsetting, this will take place in Australia for Australia. We will not offset our carbon overseas."
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