During this session Nathalie Côté examines beef sector level sustainability goals, tracking and reporting systems, and the role of the forage sector in supporting landscape health and function and the future of Quebec cattle farms depends on eco sustainable practices.

Nathalie Côté is part of Les Producteurs de bovins du Québec. She has held various positions, such as quality and environment management and director of agronomy. As director of agronomy, Nathalie now looks after animal welfare and was active in the development of animal welfare rules in Quebec and Canada as a member of the Development of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Heavy Calves Committee and currently sits on the Cattle Transportation Code Committee. She has been the coordinator of the Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program, the sustainable beef program for cow-calf and steer production since 2005. She is also the coordinator of the Verified Veal program, the on-farm food safety program for milk-fed veal production since 2013 and the Quebec Certified Grain-Fed Veal program since 2017.

We have developed a sustainability plan as a counter argument to the public domain. So far this includes a fact vs fiction pamphlet to understand main criticism of the beef sector to develop answers using research. Also, the creation of a video “what beef producers need to know about environmental footprint” to inform people. The results of this have been a commitment to reduce GHG by 33 per cent and to sequester 34million tons of carbon (C) per year, and to increase habitat by 68 per cent by maintaining and increasing grasslands.

By using a sustainable meat value chain, if a company wants to sell beef with this sustainable label, it needs to have a certified plant, a certified slaughterhouse, a certified feeding and a cow-calf operation. Only if all these links are traced, can they be certified. There are producer training webinars about resilience, forage species choices etc. There is a campaign for public relations about upcycling cattle byproducts into high quality protein found at beefresearch.ca. Upcoming work includes a conference on carbon credits, training on adapting to climate change and to enroll more in VBP+.

Certification helps producers improve. Producers were very receptive, and ready to change or document what was already going on. They are proud to participate in this program.

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