With increasing public concern and awareness of agricultural sustainability issues, comprehensive methodologies such as life cycle assessment are required to benchmark the beef industry and identify areas of opportunity for continuous improvement. To that end, the Beef Checkoff completed a retrospective sustainability assessment benchmark in 2013 by using Eco-efficiency analysis to compare the years 2005 and 2011. At the time of the analysis, the methodology used was the most up-to-date and comprehensive – indeed the analysis remains one of the only complete cradle-to-grave assessments of the U.S. beef industry. In 2015, a further refined version of the Eco-efficiency analysis was completed to incorporate new primary data sources from the beef value chain for the years 2011-2013. As the young and dynamic field of sustainability science continues to evolve, there is a need to adapt and update the methodologies used in life cycle and broader sustainability assessments of the beef industry. Consequently, this project updated and expanded the original Eco-efficiency analysis to the SimaPro™ computational platform. The move to the SimaPro™ platform will allow for direct linkages with the Integrated Farm Systems Model (USDA-ARS), which is the simulation model that has been used to generate life cycle inventories from the feed production, cow-calf, and backgrounding/feedlot segments of the beef industry. Additionally, the SimaPro™ platform will allow for even more transparent reporting of our inventories and results to the broader life cycle assessment, sustainability science, and beef communities, which is key to advancing the field and benchmarking beef’s sustainability. Finally, this project further expanded the economic sustainability evaluation of U.S. beef industry to include the direct, indirect, and induced economic activity and value that is generated from beef production. [Excerpt from report].
Thoma, G., Putman, B., Matlock, M., Popp, J., & English, L. (2017). Sustainability Assessment of U.S. Beef Production Systems. University of Arkansas Resiliency Center. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.uark.edu/rescentfs/3