Ranchers are the Ultimate Environmentalists, Earth Day 2012

April 21st, 2012 by Richard Nelson

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22.  As “everyday environmentalists,” ranchers and other members of the beef community have a story to tell regarding our environmental efforts and the strides made in making beef production more efficient and, therefore, better for the environment. The California Beef Council (CBC) distributed a press release state-wide this week highlighting the efforts taken by ranchers to preserve and sustain the environment. Below are interesting facts about how Cattle Ranching is actively stewarding the environment. The press release sent by the CBC and a fact sheet are available on the California Beef Council Web site in the on-line media kit section. The California Beef Council is always eager to discuss their commitment to the environment. Any inquiries from the public or the media are welcome. Please contact Annette Kassis at the California Beef Council, annette@calbeef.org, 916.925.BEEF (2333) ext. 15.

  • Beef is environmentally and nutritionally efficient. The beef we raise today requires less land, water and energy than before and each serving provides more than 10 percent of the daily recommended value of 10 essential nutrients and vitamins including protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
  • Nationally, about two-thirds of cattle farms and ranches have been in the same family for two generations or more. As short-term tenants of this land, it’s our job to ensure the future of our natural resources.
  • Cattle ranchers use many different practices to accomplish environmental goals such as nurturing wildlife, preventing erosion and conserving and protecting water.
  • Farmers and ranchers are recyclers, raising their animals on the abundant source of forage and grains available in this country and then turning the manure into natural fertilizers
  • Thanks to smart practices, the environmental footprint of beef has been reduced significantly over the past 30 years, including a 16 percent reduction in its carbon footprint.
  • Today’s cattle ranchers provide more people with nutritious beef using fewer natural resources than in the past.
  • According to research by Dr. Jude Capper, sustainability consultant and Adjunct Professor of Animal Sciences at Washington State University, each pound of beef raised in 2007 compared to 1977 used:
    • 30 percent less land
    • 14 percent less water
    • 20 percent less feed
    • 9 percent less fossil fuel energy
  • These environmental improvements were made possible by improvements in the way cattle are raised and fed in the United States which yielded 13 percent more total beef from 13 percent fewer animals between 1977 and 2007.
  • The average American farmer feeds about 155 people worldwide, compared to 19 just a few decades ago. And experts estimate global food production will need to increase 70 percent by 2050 just to feed a growing world population.

Many experts agree U.S. livestock production practices are an environmentally sustainable solution for raising food and should be considered a model for the rest of the world.