Americans keep eating beef despite ‘one gut punch after another’


Norfolk Daily News (NE) editorial

Oct 5, 2019


Already facing big challenges because of rainy weather and low beef prices, Nebraska’s cattle industry now must counter a plea by celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres to eat less meat.


So two women who are part of ranching families made pleas of their own with open letters that quickly went viral for good reason.


On social media, DeGeneres told her followers, “I noticed that a lot of people are talking about eating less meat, which I think is a fantastic idea. It’s a great idea for the planet. It’s a great idea for your health. It’s a great idea for the animal’s health.”


Many around here — ourselves included — don’t see it as such “a great idea.” And the numbers back them up.


“It’s just one gut punch after the other,” Gina Pospichal of Chambers told the World-Herald News Service.


As of last week, about 15,000 people had shared Pospichal’s letter to DeGeneres. Fifth-generation South Dakota rancher Amanda Radke’s open letter to DeGeneres — asking to be on her show to share not only her story but animal agriculture’s story — has been viewed millions of times on Facebook and Instagram.


And count Jim McDonald, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor of animal science, among those scratching his head. He told the World-Herald News Service that reducing beef consumption would have a “minimal impact on reducing an individual’s carbon footprint.”


Beef cattle produce about 1.9% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, he said.


Add dairy cows, swine and poultry, and that number grows to about 4%. Including items such as the corn grown to feed cattle and the energy used to run a tractor, U.S. beef production contributes to 0.47% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Worldwide, it’s 5.7%.


Radke also had numbers to back her up.


For example, she said...