Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive Ian Stevenson has been appointed to the 9-strong interim board of governors of the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS).

The organisation was established to provide the widest range of stakeholders with the opportunity to focus on beef sustainability across the European region and across all aspects of the value chain, from farm to fork.

Its membership includes all of Europe’s main red meat processors, as well as multiple retailers and restaurant chains, including McDonald’s.

ERBS is linked to the longer established Global Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (GRBS) through the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform. The origins of ERBS can be traced back to 2011, when the SAI Platform Beef Working Group was established.

In 2016 the previously identified 39 beef sustainability principles and practices were used as a holistic framework to identify four initial, pan-European priorities on which to focus.

These were identified through engagement with over 150 stakeholders across Europe. On the basis of this the ERBS’ key priority action areas are: greenhouse gas emissions, animal health and welfare, animal medicines and farm management.

“These priorities will be further fine-tuned courtesy of a public consultation process, which got under way over recent months,” said Ian Stevenson.

Sustainability for the beef sector is an issue that is already recognised at a commercial level. McDonald’s, for example, is committed to selecting and showcasing flagship farmers, who will demonstrate leading sustainability practices in each of its top 10 sourcing countries by the end of 2020.

He added: “The list of countries includes the UK and Ireland.

“Here in Northern Ireland we have a tremendous story to tell where beef sustainability is concerned. And the Farm Quality assurance is leading the way in this context.

“But there is also so much more happening of a positive nature. The ongoing work of Animal Health and Welfare Northern Ireland is a case in point.

“Looking to the future, it is vitally important that all of these initiatives are fully coordinated in order to allow the local beef industry put its best foot forward.”