STEAK OUT THE FACTS
The agriculture industry is constantly evolving. Today’s farmers are producing more food using less land and resources – an important fact considering that global food demand will double within the next 50 years.
By eating less meat, Americans will improve the environment and free land and resources for the production of more plant crops to feed the world’s hungry.
Americans need to eat both animals and plants to manage the nation’s natural resources in the best way possible and feed its people. For example, about half the land area of the U.S. can’t be used for growing crops – it can only be used for grazing. That land would be of no use as a food resource if it were not for grazing livestock like cattle, goats and sheep. Grazing animals in the United States more than doubles the area that can be used to produce food while limiting soil erosion, preserving wildlife habitat and reducing the risk of wildfires.
Meat production is not an efficient use of grain.
Environmentalists have devised some pretty creative ways to blow the feed needed to produce meat out of proportion. There are many factors of meat and grain production that are not being considered. As for beef cattle, most are grazed for the majority of their lives, and they are eating low quality forages in which humans can not utilize. If and when beef cattle are placed on grain rations (corn and soybeans), it is fed with additional forage material. Many livestock producers are utilizing grain byproducts from biofuel and milling industries. This feed is higher in protein, fat and digestible fiber and results in similar if not better weight gain.
Meat production is a large contributor of greenhouse gases.
Animal agriculture has minimal impact on greenhouse gas production in the United States. All animals naturally produce the greenhouse gas methane by way of food digestion, but according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the entire U.S. agricultural sector contributed only 6.4 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2006.
Consumers may also hear that animals raised in a feedlot or in modern production systems create more methane than animals raised alternative ways. According to a report on beef released by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Global Food Issues, pound-for-pound, beef produced in a conventional feeding system generates 40 percent less greenhouse gas emissions and uses two-thirds less land than beef produced using organic and grass-fed production systems.
Meat production creates large amounts of water-polluting manure.
The efficiency of manure use to support crop production is the critical metric. Because of the nutrient and organic matter content, manure is an alternative to commercial fertilizers with the added benefit of substantial energy savings. For example, in the case of corn production, energy savings from the substitution of swine manure for commercial fertilizer result in net energy savings on the order of 31 to 34 percent. And all farmers ensure proper conservation is practiced to protect our water supply. They drink it too.
Farmers are showing their commitment to land conservation and sustainability time and time again. These facts came courtesy of the Kentucky Livestock Coalition. You can learn more by visiting their website as well as the Illinois Livestock Development Group.