Principles of Beef Sustainability

Wondering what we mean by beef sustainability?

We define sustainability as a socially responsible, environmentally sound and economically viable product that prioritizes the planet, people, animals and progress.  Sustainability and the CRSB’s work in Canada is guided by the following five principles, which were developed by the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), an organization to which Canada is a founding member.  



Learn more about each of these five principles and how they relate to sustainable beef production in Canada.  Expand the sections below to learn more.

principle1 natural resources
PRINCIPLE: Managing the natural resources responsibly and enhancing ecosystem health.

Within this principle, indicators of sustainability include:

  • Maintaining and enhancing watershed health through responsible management of riparian areas (interface between land and water), wetlands, surface and ground water.  This can achieved through effective grazing management and nutrient management plans
  • Responsibly managing water resources (usage, water quality)
  • Maintaining and enhancing soil health
  • Monitoring, managing and enhancing grasslands, pastureland and native ecosystems used for beef production, including managing to minimize invasive plants
  • Practices that support carbon sequestration and minimizing emissions
  • Minimizing negative impact on the environment
  • Supporting habitat for wildlife on lands used for beef production
  • Responsibly managing air quality for people and animals

principle2 people communityPRINCIPLE: protecting and respecting human rights, and recognizing the critical roles that all participants within the beef value chain play in their community regarding culture, heritage, employment, land rights and health.

Within this principle, indicators of sustainability include:

  • Providing a safe work environment and reducing risk of injury/illness
  • Treating all workers with fairness, equity and respect
  • Involvement in and contributing to the community in which farmers, ranchers and beef value chain stakeholders live and work
  • provide opportunities for employee training and career development

principle3 animal healthPRINCIPLE: beef producers and processors respect and manage animals to ensure their health and welfare.
The care of animals is of the upmost importance to beef producers and processors.
Within this principle, the indicators were designed to align with the Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle, Dairy Cattle and Veal Calves as development by the National Farm Animal Care Council

These Codes provide a reference point for almost all indicators within this principle, as the Codes were developed through a multi-stakeholder process and contain required and recommended practices for animal care and handling in Canada.

The indicators cover practices such as:
  • Meeting nutritional and water needs of cattle to ensure their well-being
  • Providing feeding areas and pastures to allow cattle an environment conducive to their natural behaviour patterns
  • Ensuring animals have adequate shelter from cold, wind and heat when necessary
  • Monitoring animal health and welfare regularly, and treating sick or injured animals when necessary
  • Minimize stress to animals, particularly in loading, unloading and transportation procedures, and respond when animals display signs of distress
  • Responsible use and disposal of animal health products such as vaccines and medications
  • Establishing and maintaining a client-veterinarian-patient relationship
  • Mitigating pain for animals as much as possible, especially during physical procedures on cattle
  • Euthanizing when necessary, and according to requirements as outlined in the Codes of Practice

principle4 foodPRINCIPLE: ensuring the safety and quality of beef products and utilizing information-sharing systems that promote beef sustainability.


Within this principle, indicators of sustainability include:

  • Supporting production of safe and high quality food through effective food safety management plans, including government oversight in beef processing by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
  • Supporting efforts to minimize food waste such as food loss and waste assessements, and implementing measures to reduce, divert for other uses, reuse and recycle

principle5 efficiency innovationPRINCIPLE: Encouraging innovation, optimizing production, reducing waste and adding to economic sustainability.

Producers and processors are constantly seeking to increase efficiency in their operations and minimize their impact, as are those in the retail and foodservice sector. In fact, many operations are already highly efficient due to modern agricultural innovations and research such as equipment and genetic technologies.

Within this principle, indicators of sustainability include:

  • Pursuing continuous learning about beef sustainability and adopting new practices and technologies that meet the needs of the individual farm ranch or operation.
  • Continually embracing new technologies to help minimize waste
  • Using energy responsibly, and reducing energy use and adopting more efficient options where possible
  • Identifying and adopting production efficiencies such as cattle performance, genetics, reproduce use, etc. that meet the needs of the individual operation
  • Using crop production products such as fertilizer, pesticides and fungicides safely and responsibly