In this file:
· The Green New Deal Progressives Really Are Coming for Your Beef
· Gov’t study clarifies U.S. beef’s resource use and gas emission
· NPR: Fighting Global Warming Requires Changes In How Cows Are Fed
The Green New Deal Progressives Really Are Coming for Your Beef
Factory farms, farting cows have a big environmental footprint
Carbon price seen more effective at pushing farming changes
By Katia Dmitrieva, Bloomberg
March 13, 2019
President Donald Trump says progressives want to take away your burger. He’s not exactly wrong.
While the Green New Deal and its proponents don’t call for mass cow culls, their goal to reach zero emissions by 2030 includes dealing with factory farms. Agriculture is responsible for one-quarter of global greenhouse gas pollution -- with burping and flatulent cattle creating a big chunk. If they want to keep eating meat, the New Dealers say Americans will have to rethink how it gets on their plate and what it costs.
The expansive environmental program backed by about 100 Democrats and championed by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey envisions financing for smaller-scale and sustainable farming, where the government would offer benefits for reducing their carbon footprint. That could mean choosing poultry over beef, or cutting waste. Incentives are the “carrot" farmers need to change production, but the proposed legislation doesn’t include carbon pricing that activists and economists see as necessary to curb climate change.
“You can eat meat but you have to pay the price," said Sean McElwee, a co-founder of the left-leaning think tank Data for Progress. “The fundamental reality is that when you’re eating meat, you’re doing immense damage to the environment that is not being priced into the product." Environmental damage to local communities and health issues created by livestock are among the costs not included in the product, he said.
Here’s the stinky truth:
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Gov’t study clarifies U.S. beef’s resource use and gas emission
Jan Suszkiw, Tri-State Livestock News - March 13, 2019
Source: USDA Ag Research Service
WASHINGTON, DC, March 11, 2019—A fuller picture is emerging of the environmental footprint of beef in the United States.
An Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-led team has completed a comprehensive life-cycle analysis quantifying the resource use and various environmental emissions of beef cattle production in the United States. The aim is to establish baseline measures that the U.S. beef industry can use to explore ways of reducing its environmental footprint and improve sustainability.
"The environmental footprint of producing beef has long been debated. One challenge is that the impacts extend beyond just those associated with growing the animals and include the impact of producing feed and other inputs. This is further complicated by the diversity of ways that beef cattle are managed and fed," commented Marlen Eve, ARS deputy administrator for natural resources and sustainable agricultural systems. "It is important to have an accurate quantification of these impacts to provide a baseline against which production system sustainability can be assessed and improved."
Led by ARS agricultural engineer Alan Rotz, the team's analysis encompassed an array of different types of cattle operations, reflecting a beef supply chain that's among the most complex food production systems in the world. Indeed, the scope of the analysis spanned five years, seven cattle-producing regions and used data from 2,270 survey responses and site visits nationwide. This ensured the results weren't limited to a single region, where climate, soil, production practices and other factors can differ from other parts of the country, added Rotz, with ARS' Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pennsylvania.
His collaborators are former ARS research associate Senorpe Asem-Hiablie, Greg Thoma of the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and Sara Place, with National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which is partially funding the study. The team began its beef life-cycle analysis in 2013 and published the first of two sets of results in the January 2019 issue of the journal Agricultural Systems.
Among the results to emerge thus far:
· The seven regions' combined beef cattle production accounted for 3.3 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions (By comparison, transportation and electricity generation together made up 56 percent of the total in 2016 and agriculture in general 9 percent).
· Fossil energy (for example, fuel) use in cattle production accounted for less than 1 percent of the total consumed nationally.
· Cattle only consumed 2.6 pounds of grain per pound of beef cut weight (or, butchered carcass weight), which was comparable to pork and poultry.
· Beef operations in the Northwest and Southern Plains had the highest total water use (60 percent combined) of the seven regions analyzed. Irrigating crops to produce feed for cattle accounted for 96 percent of total water use across all the regions.
"We found that the greenhouse gas emissions in our analysis were not all that different from what other credible studies had shown and were not a significant contributor to long-term global warming," Rotz said.
Two areas for potential improvement...
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.]