Students take sustainable beef practices to the bank

An $18.52 cheque caused excitement among Lakeland College animal science technology (AST) students earlier this year.

More consumers are demanding sustainably-sourced beef and programs like this that demonstrate industry’s commitment to supporting producers for investing in sustainable practices. When value is distributed back along various stages of the chain, it becomes more appealing for producers and other partners to be involved. Our students got to see that there is a payoff and I think that’s huge. Now they’ll be trying to figure out how to get more cattle to qualify for the program.
~ Geoff Brown, Associate Dean - School of Agricultlural Sciences, Lakeland College 


Students involved in the commercial beef unit of the Student-Managed Farm – Powered by New Holland (SMF)received the payment in March after an animal they sold was processed through certified sustainable operations of the beef supply chain. That triggered Lakeland’s first cheque through the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Pilot, which is an initiative led by Cargill, according to Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (CRSB) sustainability standards. Since then, Lakeland has received a second cheque covering animals processed in June of 2019.
“Receiving the cheque is validation of the process we completed to operationalize sustainability and traceability programs at Lakeland College,” says Bevin Hamilton, program head of the AST program at the Vermilion campus.  
It was a process that began a few years ago after AST program advisory committee members recommended that Lakeland become more involved in sustainable beef programs.
“We talked about these programs in class, but hadn’t done anything on our Student-Managed Farm. Having livestock enterprises that our students manage, we can let our students get involved and implement the programs. That’s what we decided to do,” says Hamilton.