The beef sector has been making many efforts to expand its sustainability, but this was often not directly visible or quantifiable.

In 2019, a sustainability monitor for beef cattle was developed in Flanders, linked to 45 concrete initiatives that are listed and measured. This monitor already exists for dairy cattle, but is since recently also available for beef cattle. 

Every 3 years, an independent certification body visits meat cattle farms for an audit check. This also requires that the sustainability monitor is completed. The monitor gives each farmer a point for every initiative, but every initiative is free.  This monitor should motivate the livestock farmer to do better every audit. An immediate financial benefit cannot be determined directly, but it becomes more of a "licence to produce" . This monitor is managed by Codiplan and Belbeef. Meanwhile, 3.400 beef farmers have already registered in this specifications, indicating that it does matter for most livestock farmers for their sales. 

The sustainability initiatives are divided into several sections:

-animal health (contract with a farm supervising veterinarian, applying a vaccination programme, applying the purchase protocol, etc.)

-animal welfare (claw care, mange control, grazing of cows, reduction of perinatal mortality, use of a clean calving shed, sun protection on pastures, ...)

-energy (having an energy scan carried out, use of solar panels, use of low-energy bulbs, ...)

-biodiversity (presence of swallow nests, bats, at least 25% share of permanent pasture in the total forage area, applying animal-friendly mowing management, ...)

-environment and surroundings (well-tended farm environment, environment-friendly pest control, etc.)

-feed (use of certified socially responsible soya, by-products, own produced roughage, ...)

-soil (use of farmyard manure or certified compost, ...)

-water (use of rainwater, wastewater treatment and reuse, ...)

-social and economic (watching farm, selling farm products via short chain, keeping farm accounts recognised by regional authorities, ...).

Further information:

“The Belbeef sustainability monitor lists and verifies the initiatives beef cattle farms are already taking today.”