Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Actually, Raising Beef Is Good for the Planet

by

Opinion Editorial By Nicolette Hahn Niman

People who advocate eating less beef often argue that producing it hurts the environment. Cattle, we are told, have an outsize ecological footprint: They guzzle water, trample plants and soils, and consume precious grains that should be nourishing hungry humans. Lately, critics have blamed bovine burps, flatulence and even breath for climate change.

As a longtime vegetarian and environmental lawyer, I once bought into these claims. But now, after more than a decade of living and working in the business—my husband, Bill, founded Niman Ranch but left the company in 2007, and we now have a grass-fed beef company—I’ve come to the opposite view. It isn’t just that the alarm over the environmental effects of beef are overstated. It’s that raising beef cattle, especially on grass, is an environmental gain for the planet.

Let’s start with climate change. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all of U.S. agriculture accounts for just 8{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} of our greenhouse emissions, with by far the largest share owing to soil management—that is, crop farming. A Union of Concerned Scientists report concluded that about 2{28d451f77a4de8a52cd2586be6cc1800527fe70ea84e8b3f90098495d088e086} of U.S. greenhouse gases can be linked to cattle and that good management would diminish it further. The primary concern is methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

But methane from cattle, now under vigorous study by agricultural colleges around the world, can be mitigated in several ways. Australian research shows that certain nutritional supplements can cut methane from cattle by half. Things as intuitive as good pasture management and as obscure as robust dung beetle populations have all been shown to reduce methane.

—Ms. Hahn Niman is the author of “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” (Chelsea Green), from which this is adapted.

CLICK HERE to read the full article

 

 

Source:  Wall Street Journal

Reposted by Jami Howell

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x