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Beef Industry Encouraged To Focus On Technology

The Agriculture sector is facing some real challenges.

Alison Sunstrum, the Founder and CEO of CNSRVEX, was a keynote speaker at the Saskatchewan Beef Industry Conference last week.

She says the world's farmers and ranchers are going to be called upon to double food production on the same or less land, to feed, fuel, clothe ten billion with likely less labour, adopt more efficient and sustainable production methods, and adapt to climate change.

"That is a pretty big challenge. I think the beef industry is facing perhaps a tougher go. We're under significant pressure from volatile costs and prices that we can do little to control. Climate change has a greater impact, I think, on the farm than most people even realize. And if you took a look at what's happened over the past year even, we had billion dollar climate events in BC and elsewhere, that have affected farms, dairy farms, beef farms at a rate that we really never thought we would encounter. And the consumer concerns about animal welfare, disease, antibiotic use, and the environmental impact of livestock production has left us in a place where I think that if we have to do more with less, and do so sustainably, we need a step change in innovation. I think that technology or disruptive technology is the way that we have to go."

Sunstrum says there are some things that producers face on a daily basis that can be resolved through data and technology.

"Labour availability is a critical area for beef producers and anyone in agriculture. The cost of labour is rapidly increasing, if we can find it. And so I think that's something that we have to address, and technology definitely can. Reducing our input use and the environmental impact can be handled by technology. And we also have a factor, our social licence, our ability to operate can be improved through greater traceability methods, digitization, and gaining that consumer trust is something that we can do through technology. Food safety can be greatly enhanced by technology, as well as improved efficiency or reduced input costs. Reduce feed cost is probably the area that could work as well as anything to reduce the overall cost of production."

Sunstrum says essentially you start being able to control your future a bit more, if you have this kind of data, you can mitigate your risk.

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