Meristem Land and Science: Driving Progress in Sustainability

NewStream Farm Animal Care, Volume 4, Edition 3

McDonald's Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot final report available

June 2, 2016

Now the industry needs to decide the pathway forward

It had the feel of a warm family gathering with a slight undercurrent of anxiousness. Beef producers involved in McDonald's Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot gathered in Calgary, Alta. at the invitation of the program sponsor to hear firsthand the details of the project final report. And to be thanked by the sponsor for their efforts in an industry first, a clear sense they were being feted as pioneers of a new era of production.

Producer guests were joined by media, executives from McDonald's, the World Wildlife Fund US, elected officials along with selected industry players many affiliated with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). That last group will be on the frontlines as the beef industry wrestles with how best to use this information going forward to build a more permanent version of the initiative.

Based on the details of the report provided and the media and industry chatter the project has garnered along the way, it is fair to say this is a beef family adventure that gained appeal as it moved through 30 months of sometimes tough slogging.

Global vs Canadian Roundtables

As background the CSRB is part of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GSRB). McDonald's was a founding member of the GRSB and that group was the one which developed the baseline criteria and indicators, which the Canadian pilot project used as the basis of the criteria and indicators for the verifications in Canada.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

How to load, how to lead

June 2, 2016

Trucker talks cattle transportation tips and industry leadership

When cattle trucker Rick Sincennes started in the business more than 30 years it was a different world. Today animal welfare is a profile issue in the public eye, animal activists are putting pressure on producers and the people involved in cattle transportation have an entirely different level of responsibility for themselves and their industry.

The veteran trucker has clear ideas on how to load, and how to lead. As a cattle handling trainer he teaches proper loading techniques. As an industry advocate he has been a significant player in developing today's industry standards.

In the process he has developed strong feelings on how the industry needs to lead. With transportation such a prominent part of the public's exposure to the cattle industry these days, here's his checklist of the key things needed to accomplish that.

Cattle behavior is key. The most important step in loading a trailer is understanding cattle behavior. "For example, know the animal flight zones," says Sincennes. "Stand at the edge of the chute and lean over, and you'll push cattle back. Follow cattle up the chute and walk alongside, and you may think you're chasing them. But you're actually holding everything behind you back."

Cattle will not enter a trailer easily if there is a layer of liquid on the floor. To them it's a lake. They simply don't know how deep it is and won't enter it.

Click here to read the complete feature article.

New progress on animal care codes of practice

June 2, 2016

NFACC gives a codes and communications update

An updated Code of Practice for the care and handling of hatching eggs, breeders, chickens and turkeys will be released June 15, 2016 according to the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

This new Code, which was updated in accordance with NFACC's Code development process, has been one of the most complex code development processes completed to date given the number of sectors involved. Revisions to the "poultry (meat)" Code started in 2011. The public comment period, which ended in December 2015, garnered over 900 submissions.

Watch NFACC's website www.nfacc.ca for a news release as the new code goes live.

There is also progress on four other codes:

  • Poultry (layers). This moves into the public comment period. The Code Development Committee met in early May with the aim of releasing the draft layer Code for broader input through the public comment period as soon as possible. Clarifications on the Code development process and the status of the layer Code were made available at www.nfacc.ca/news?articleid=263 for those wishing to better understand the process for Code Development Committee deliberations.
  • Rabbits. The Code Development Committee met in March 2016. A summary of this meeting is available at www.nfacc.ca/progress-report-rabbit.
  • Veal Cattle. The Code Development Committee met in March 2016. A summary of the meeting is available at www.nfacc.ca/progress-report-veal-cattle.
  • Bison. The Code Development Committee met in February 2016. A summary of that meeting is available at www.nfacc.ca/progress-report-bison.

Click here to read the full story.

Meristem and JGR Communications join forces

June 2, 2016

Changes at NewStream's publisher

Two established Alberta communications firms are teaming up to tackle opportunities in the growing area of sustainability communications. Meristem Information Resources Ltd. is a boutique agency with over 20 years of providing communications services "Driving progress in sustainability" to clients across Western Canada. JGR Communications was started in 2010 and has quickly established itself as an energetic, growing consultancy in strategic communications and training services.

The new partnership brings a fresh, expanded management team to Meristem, and a strong client base, extensive network and expanded service offering for both companies. Terry Hockaday, the founder of Meristem, will remain Meristem president with a focus on content strategy, mentoring talent and business development for both companies. Jim Rudolph, a former Meristem editor, will take on the role of managing partner for Meristem. He remains president of JGR Communications, a company he founded.

"This partnership is a good fit business and people wise," says Hockaday. "JGR will help Meristem to continue delivering strategic, high-quality content spanning agriculture, food, environment and life sciences, while expanding Meristem's strategic communications services. Jim brings a strong passion for content and storytelling along with a proven track record in strategic communications planning, media relations, stakeholder consultation and communications training." The new team will work on enhancing the Meristem toolkit over the coming months, including the website www.meristem.com.

"As citizens and consumers ask more questions about their food, environmental stewardship and health, Meristem's approaches to producing credible, informative content have never been more needed," says Rudolph. "At the same time, we have to use the right mix of relevant online platforms and communications tools to inform sustainability perspectives and discussions."

Learn more about the new Meristem management team here. Watch for some exciting changes in the next months to Meristem tools and services including the Land and Science website at www.meristem.com and the online newsletter NewStream.

Revised: 28 November 2016.

Terry Hockaday – President and Founder

Jim Rudolph – Managing Partner

Why key messages are a false crutch

June 2, 2016

Doug Downs Vice-President, Strategy
and Training

Veteran media trainer Doug Downs says we may want to tone down the rhetoric

"It doesn't matter what a reporter asks you, you're going to tell them what you want to tell them….and I'll show you how."

It's called bridging and once upon a time this was the sage advice of media trainers. If you hear one say it to you today - you should probably fire them.

The concept of key messages is still a part of good communication planning – but the idea that you will deliver your messages regardless of the questions asked or the context of the reporter's story is – well – rude at best and unquestionably an outdated approach to media training.

Case in point from the U.S. election primaries. Florida Senator Marco Rubio did an interview with the Conway Daily Sun, a small newspaper in eastern New Hampshire with a circulation of 16,000.

The New Hampshire Primary was the first in a series of party primary elections held in the U.S. every four years. So while the state and the newspaper itself are small – they held inordinate importance in the U.S. presidential election.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican candidate for president, has taken hours of media training to get to this point in his career. But his interview performance, and his ability to "stay on message," clearly struck the wrong chord with the reporter who wrote a scathing editorial in criticism.

"It was like watching a computer algorithm designed to cover talking points," said the reporter.

Click here to read the complete feature article.


June 2, 2016

Quick takes on key activity and what's coming, from NewStream editors

VBP+ launches new program version

Following on the heels of the release of the McDonald's McDonald's Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot final report, the Verified Beef Production (VBP) program will officially launch VBP+, the next generation of the program. The new program version will showcase the addition of new modules for farm animal care, biosecurity and environment to the original on-farm food safety module.

The big announcement is slated for mid-June.

Register for U of Calgary Beef Conference

It has built a reputation as one of the solid conferences for the beef industry. There's still time to register for the UCVM Beef Cattle Conference 2016, June 16 and 17. The session leads off with practical workshops on Thursday morning. Space is limited and they tend to fill up early. That's followed by conference presentations Thursday and Friday. It's all here http://vet.ucalgary.ca/beef/.

Conference news from NFACC

A heads up from the National Farm Animal Care Council about two significant animal care conferences on the horizon in 2016, The International One Welfare Conference runs Sept. 26 to 28, Winnipeg, Man. More information is available at http://onewelfareconference.ca.

And the National Farmed Animal Health and Welfare Forum 2016 takes place Nov. 29 to 30, Ottawa, Ont. More information is available at http://www.ahwcouncil.ca.




McDonald's Verified Sustainable Beef Pilot final report available

How to load, how to lead

New progress on animal care codes of practice

Meristem and JGR Communications join forces

Why key messages are a false crutch

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: June 2, 2016

Building trust through transportation technology

Can genomics revolutionize animal health?

New knowledge for an animal care-driven world

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: March 17, 2016

Top 10 popular stories of the past year

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: January 21, 2016

Soil Health rises on the sustainability landscape

Data: The big opportunity for beef improvement

Insights from Dr. David Fraser

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: December 18, 2015

Agriculture steps up its game in crisis preparedness

Crisis preparedness 101: Rapid fire tips

Taking the Longview

New Code nears the finish line

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: November 26, 2015

'Care' crosses over

Four to watch

What beef producers are asking about VBP+

Rubber hits the road on new Code

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: September 24, 2015

The new world of 'sustainable beef'

Inside the grocery game

Stampede through different lenses

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: July 16, 2015

Walmart makes waves

Tipping points, trends and the FDA mindset

Tipping points, trends and the FDA mindset

Young dairy farmers talk welfare

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: June 4, 2015

New frontiers take shape in farm animal care

The next big challenge: Professionalizing animal agriculture

Buzzworthy: Three main "take home" messages

Views from the frontlines

#KeepingItReal: Building bridges in 140 or less

Heart of a farmer

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: April 2, 2015

The fallout from California's 'Prop 2'

Drivers of care: Building a winner

New Codes work underway

A&W marches ahead with new chicken focus

Global view: The politics of hidden videos

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: March 12, 2015

Banff Pork Seminar digs deeper on welfare issue

Trust factor rises as lynchpin to swine industry future

Welfare won't derail positive pork outlook

More from Banff

Headwaters: Snapshots of new developments

Posted: January 29, 2015