Sustainable Southwest Beef: Evaluating innovations from pasture to plate

TitleSustainable Southwest Beef: Evaluating innovations from pasture to plate
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsSpiegal S., Cibils AF, Steiner J, Estell RE, Bestelmeyer BT, McIntosh MM, Bestelmeyer S, Aney S, Elias EH, Duff G.
Conference Name2022 Society for Range Management Annual Meeting
Date Published2/8/2022
ARIS Log Number392975

Consumers and producers worldwide are paying attention to the environmental and social impacts of the beef industry, demonstrating preferences for beef produced with high standards of animal welfare, environmental quality, and well-being of agricultural communities. At the same time, major pressures such as climate change impacts, market variation, and disease complicate prospects for achieving the environmental, social, and economic targets that result in sustainable beef production systems. Climate impacts are especially pronounced in the Southwestern US: as temperatures rise and rainfall becomes more erratic, forage production is decreasing and ranching input costs are increasing. Also, this region is dependent on other regions for finishing its ranch-raised cattle – and ultimately for marketing the beef from the cattle originating in the Southwest. A team of 25 organizations led by New Mexico State University and funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture is exploring the performance of three management strategies with promise to improve sustainability outcomes in these conditions: heritage cattle genetics, digital ranching, and alternative finishing options include grassfinishing on southwestern rangeland and recycling the feedlot manure produced by cattle that originate on southwestern ranches. We will introduce our integrated research/extension/education approach and describe how we are using a supply chain perspective to understand and communicate the tradeoffs of the three strategies under investigation, from pasture to plate. We will also provide context for the other talks and discussions in the symposium and make sure the attendees are well prepared to enjoy and learn with the SRM community in the session.