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Beef Sustainability Research

Use the fly-out menu bar on the left to find Executive Summaries, Fact Sheets, Project Summaries, White Papers and other information on beef sustainability.

The checkoff-funded Sustainability Research program was launched in 2011 when the checkoff embarked on the first and largest research project of its kind. The program is a proactive and innovative scientific approach to creating a sustainable beef product for a growing world population while gaining consumer confidence in beef.

Specific objectives include:

  • Maintain consumer confidence in beef as a sustainable food
  • Conduct research to improve beef sustainability
  • Identify sustainability improvement opportunities and create a better beef community over time
  • Serve as an industry resource for current, science-based, beef sustainability information

In early 2013, the initial benchmark research was certified by NSF International, the largest accredited, third-party body that certifies products to verify they align with national conformity standards by which to measure a product’s sustainability. 

The study was published in the Journal of Animal Science in November, 2013. 

To meet U.S. beef demand, America’s farmers and ranchers maintain about 31 million breeding cows and bulls for the purpose of producing calves for beef production. The annual economic value of beef cattle produced in the United States is about 63 billion dollars. Along with this substantial contribution to the economy, production of cattle and associated feed crops also impacts our environment. The objective of this study was to develop and evaluate a methodology for using the Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM; USDA-ARS, University Park, PA) to quantify environmental footprints for current and historical beef cattle production. This methodology made it possible to quantify improvement by comparing current footprints to those determined using the production practices of MARC in 1970 and 2005.

For the full text of the article go to, Journal of Animal Science:  A simulation-based approach for evaluating and comparing the environmental footprints of beef production systems. 
Find out how producers are responding to the preliminary results by viewing the five-minute Beef Sustainability Research Video (please allow 3-5 minutes extra load time). 


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