In this file:
· Opinion: Cows are not the enemy
· NPR: Fighting Global Warming Requires Changes In How Cows Are Fed
Opinion: Cows are not the enemy
By Robyn H. Smith, Smith is communications director for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association.
via The Oregonian (OR) - Mar 13, 2019
Last month, freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., introduced a Green New Deal resolution highlighting hopes and dreams for accomplishing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within a 10-year time frame. It sounds pretty good on paper — an idealized conception of creating millions of high-wage jobs, investing in infrastructure and industry and promoting justice for “vulnerable communities” — all while meeting 100 percent power demand through zero-emission energy sources. But the Green New Deal fails to state how the government will realistically enact, enforce or accomplish those goals.
Agricultural communities are in alarm. Similar to Oregon’s proposed cap and trade bill, family-owned farms and ranches would be negatively and disproportionately impacted by the Green New Deal.
In regard to agriculture, the resolution outlines removing greenhouse gases completely from the sector, creating soil carbon reduction, furthering land preservation and decreasing wildfires. Has anyone asked agricultural communities to weigh in on these topics?
Proponents of this resolution, including Oregon Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, who both signed on in support, must recognize agricultural communities have been tackling these issues and are champions of environmental stewardship. Cattle in particular, should be seen as an answer and not the enemy when it comes to climate change.
Results from a beef life-cycle analysis published in January in the journal Agricultural Systems showed only 3.3 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gases are emitted from cattle. The total of all agricultural emissions amounts to 9 percent. Colin Woodall, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Vice President, notes beef producers have made substantial progress in environmental concerns over the years, such as producing the same amount of beef with 33 percent fewer cattle, compared to 1970.
Yet, a document from Ocasio-Cortez’s office said, “We set a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions in 10 years because we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” Though humorous, make no mistake, this is a glimpse of the attack on this nation’s cattle industry.
Cattle are natural stewards of the land. Grazing cattle, when appropriately managed, can help grass regrowth, capturing carbon from the atmosphere and keeping it stored in the soil, researchers at Michigan State University have found. Environmental activists searching for soil carbon storage to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should look no further than a herd of cattle. Grazing cattle produce food and fiber for healthy soil, provide nutrient storage, erosion prevention and improved water quality.
The resolution mentions the concern of wildfires. Ranchers own grazing allotments and obtain permits to graze their cattle on public lands, and in doing so, cattle reduce fire fuels. When rangelands are overgrown or mismanaged there is an increase in fires and the rate at which they spread; cattle grazing can help suppress wildfire growth...
Fighting Global Warming Requires Changes In How Cows Are Fed
Dan Charles, Heard on Morning Edition, NPR
March 13, 2019
Stopping climate change won't just mean a halt to burning coal and gasoline. It will mean an end to cutting forests and mining the soil to grow more food. Fortunately, it is possible.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
This week, in a way, we've been bringing you stories from the future, describing a world in which we have actually stopped climate change. And today we turn to food. In a zero-carbon world, your dinner plate may not look all that different, but some big changes have to happen down on the farm. NPR's Dan Charles traveled to South America to see how those changes might happen.
DAN CHARLES, BYLINE: A scientist named Jacobo Arango was traveling in a forested part of his country, Colombia, when he ran into a big cause of global warming. He couldn't see it, but he could hear it.
JACOBO ARANGO: You could hear the chainsaw cutting the forest. And the locals telling us that this is nothing unusual for them, that they were hearing that every day.
CHARLES: And they all knew what would happen next. After land clearing, comes cattle grazing - a version of cattle grazing that's careless and destructive. And Tim Searchinger from the World Resources Institute says it's incredibly common.
TIM SEARCHINGER: Grazing land is about two-thirds of all the world's agricultural land, and about a third of that came right out of clearing forests.
CHARLES: This is a climate disaster. First, because cutting trees and tearing up soil releases huge amounts of carbon dioxide, and then cattle release methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, as they digest grass and leaves. There are greenhouse emissions from other kinds of farming, too - from plowing and from fertilizer. Add it all up, and growing food accounts for a quarter of the entire climate change problem. It could grow, too, because billions of people around the world are getting richer. They want to eat beef, too.
SEARCHINGER: There is no solution to climate change that doesn't dramatically reduce the land use demands and greenhouse gas emissions of agriculture.
CHARLES: Searchinger and his colleagues have laid out a roadmap for how to do this. It includes lots of things - less food wasted, ways to capture those fertilizer emissions - but maybe the biggest piece of the solution? Jacobo Arango wants to show it to me.
(SOUNDBITE OF COW MOOING)
CHARLES: Arango works at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, and he's brought me to a farm in the Patia Valley, not far from the country's Pacific coast. This is cattle-grazing land - wide, grassy pastures lined by trees.
NOHELY ANGULO MOSQUERA: (Speaking Spanish, whistling).
CHARLES: Nohely Angulo Mosquera is calling his cows, moving them to a new pasture. And this new pasture is a bovine feast. The grass is up to my waist. This is not the ordinary grass that grows wild here. These are varieties that were specifically bred and selected to be top-quality cattle feed.
ANGULO MOSQUERA: (Speaking Spanish).
CHARLES: Angulo Mosquera, the farmer, says these grasses grow so fast and they're so nutritious he can keep four or even six cows on the land that used to support just one. He does have to manage the cows more carefully, moving them every few weeks to new pastures when the grass is ready. But it's worth it.
ANGULO MOSQUERA: (Speaking Spanish).
CHARLES: More milk, more meat, he says. He doesn't mention it, but it's true - these cows are growing so much faster. They aren't releasing nearly as much methane per pound of milk or meat. We are looking at an essential part of a world without climate change. So researcher Jacobo Arango and I are just going to pretend it's here. The year is 2050, and global warming is ending. The same way we stopped mining coal to generate electricity, we've stopped mining the soil to grow food.
ARANGO: It is different now in 2050.
CHARLES: And in this zero-carbon world, this is what cattle grazing looks like all over the tropics. Farmers aren't just letting cows wander around and find something mediocre to eat anymore. They're treating their pastures like a valuable crop.
ARANGO: This was critical, to change the mindset of cattle growers...
more, including audio [5:05 min.]