Cargill, McDonald's & Swiss Chalet to pay producers for beef program participation

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McDonald’s, Swiss Chalet and Cargill have committed to funding a pilot project that is designed to pay cattle producers a financial incentive for producing beef that meets verifiable sustainability standards.

The “Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Project” was soft-launched at the recent Canadian Beef Industry Conference in Calgary. It will begin in October, with the first quarterly payments going out in early 2018.

As Deborah Wilson, senior vice president with BIXS, explains in the video below, it’s designed to be an opportunity for cow-calf operations, backgrounders and feedlots to get paid for participating in the Verified Beef Production Plus (VBP+) program and tracking animals through BIXS (Beef InfoXchange System).

“Cargill spearheaded it. They’re working with groups like BIXS and VBP+ and the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef. We’re going to be building on the CRSB framework, using VBP+ to audit the operations, and BIXS is going to be tracking chain of custody. So we’re going to track cattle right from the farm, right through to the plant, and even beyond that at times,” she says. “This is going to be backed and funded by McDonald’s, Cargill, and Swiss Chalet. So we’re looking at some financial incentives and credits going back to producers that are operating in that sustainability chain.”

Watch Deborah Wilson discuss the Canadian Beef Sustainability Acceleration Project with Kelvin Heppner at CBIC ’17 in Calgary:

Details on what the payments will look like and how much money the funders are committing to the program are not yet public. According to the pilot project website, the amount paid to producers “will vary based on the volume delivered as well as participation from the industry as a whole.”

“We’ve been working on that model, because we want to get it right the first time, but I’m just going to toss a number out there — hopefully if a producer had 200 cows, he or she could realize an extra $1000-$1200 in their pocket if the animal comes through a fully sustainable chain,” says Wilson. “That’s just a number I’m tossing out there right now, but that would be my hope, so we’re headed down that path.”

The goal is to prove to the beef supply chain, including retail customers, that there’s value tracking animals and how they are raised.

“By 2018, the CRSB (verification) framework will be up and running, and we probably have 150 members with the CRSB. A number of them are retailers, like Sobeys, A&W, Milestones, Costco…there are a lot of great retailers that are a part of CRSB. So now it’s to prove that we can actually do this, and the retailers are asking for this because the customers are asking for this.”

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