Discussing the beef industry and how cows are not as bad for the environment as recently explained
While reading The Spectrum’s article a few weeks back on how cows are ‘bad’ for the environment, I was saddened. I love beef products. I knew I needed to do something to stand up for the beef industry.
I grew up around beef and dairy cows. I remember as a child, being on our family farm and seeing a calf stand on its own for the first time, a complete miracle.
I wish people would realize that beef really is good. Farmers and ranchers are working around the clock to make sure their cows are getting taken care of. Whether it is 100 degrees or negative 45 degrees windchill, they are always making sure the job gets done and their cows are cared for.
Farmers and ranchers not only care for their cows, but they also care for the environment and feeding America as well.
The 2021 census of Agriculture classified 4,949 agriculture operations in North Dakota as beef cattle ranches. North Dakota ranch production has a revenue of around 790.2 million dollars. While the value of land, buildings, machinery and equipment is estimated to be approximately 5.4 billion dollars.
North Dakota is not just raising cattle. Ranchers employed more than 15,000 workers including operators, hired and unhired labor in 2012. I am sure these numbers are much higher now, as operations are getting larger, more help may be needed.
When I hear people discussing how cows are ‘bad’ for the environment, I wish they would do more research and discover that in reality, cows burping is really not as bad as people put it out to be.
Have you ever heard of biogenic carbon cycles? According to ‘Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner, (a company promoting the consumption of beef) a biogenic carbon cycle is a naturally occurring process where carbon is utilized, recycled and stored in different states. For example, plants take in sunlight and carbon dioxide, uses them to create carbohydrates (or plants) in the process of photosynthesis.
While cattle are in fields or pastures, they will eat these carbohydrates (plants) and undergo a process called fermentation. ‘Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner,’ explains how cattle are ruminant animals and have microbes in their stomachs to break down carbohydrates through the fermentation process. The rumen is the largest of the four stomachs in a cow and is filled with microorganisms that help break down foliage, such as grass.
This process created a gas called methane. Methane is burped out by the cow and is then in the environment. Methane from a cow will stay in the environment from a cow burping for about 10 years.
Fossil fuels are much worse.
Fossil fuels impact our environment more long-term. The cycle of carbon from fossil fuels can take approximately 1,000 years to leave our ecosystem.
I found it very sad when those who are not familiar with agriculture say, ‘Cows are bad for the environment! I will not eat dairy or beef products.’
The conversation.com has an article, “Yes, eating meat affects the environment, but cows are not killing the environment,” discusses meat and greenhouse gases, how giving up meat will not save the planet, as well as the value of animal agriculture. This article also discusses how while it may be a good thing to not eat meat for the environment it is not the cows’ fault the environment is not doing well.
In this article, Meatless Monday was recognized and talked about. If we didn’t eat meat on Mondays, there would be a 0.5 reduction in greenhouse gases coming from agriculture practices.
According to Agriculture Systems, emissions from cattle (including feed production, fuel and electricity) account for only 3.7 percent of total greenhouse gases in the United States. With this being said, I do not think our biggest worry should be eating meat and dairy products, cattle are only 3.7 percent of greenhouse gases.
Please do not be hating on cows, farmers or ranchers. Cows, farmers and ranchers do so many good things for our nation. They feed America. They put food on our tables. There are more things they do, such as helping the environment and our ecosystems.
According to beefresearch.org, there are multiple factors that contribute to a sustainable food system.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization defines a sustainable food system as “a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrients for future generations are not compromised.” Ranchers and farmers are doing just that. Feeding America today and for generations to come.
Beefresearch.org is a great resource to answer questions you may have about the beef industry.
Cattle can convert human inedible feedstuff into high-quality human-edible protein. Cattle can eat carbohydrates that we are unable to eat, such as forage. There are many other examples I found from beefresearch.org as well.
Cattle consume forages and/or roughages (high fiber plant feeds) that are grown on lands unsuitable for cultivation. This expands the land and gives more availability to food production.
Beef cattle operations represent 30 percent of the farms in the US. If you don’t eat meat, how would these farmers and ranchers survive? I believe they wouldn’t. Being a farmer or a rancher may be very rewarding, they feed America and fill so many tummies.
While some may say, “There are so many plants, why can’t we just eat them instead of eating meat.” Many whole plants in our environment are inedible, in fact, a whole 81 percent of whole plants (beefresearch.org). Beef research also informed me that inedible by-products, vitamins and minerals are 10 percent, while human-edible grains are a total of 9 percent. With this being said, cattle can eat more plants, grains and vitamins than us humans can.
If we were to eliminate meat, it would do more harm than it would good.
According to Sacred Cow, “A study found that if the entire US eliminated all animal products, greenhouse gas emissions would only be reduced by 2.6 percent. And the result would be humans increasing carbohydrates and would lead to having more nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium, Vitamin B12, Vitamin EPA and DHA.”
Although many people may not eat meat, I want to change your mind. If you think eating meat will make you look like you don’t support the environment and our future, that is incorrect. Cows are good for our environment.
Cows are not just used for meat production. For example, inedible beef fat gives us airplane lubricants, hydraulic brake fluid, biodiesel and medications.
Organs and glands of a beef cow can be used in medicines, insulation, antifreeze, shampoo and conditioners.
Cattle tissue can be used in heart valve surgeries.
Beef production has been a huge factor in our country. According to Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner, 14.8 billion dollars were contributed to our economy from beef.
Cows can eat whole plants we cannot, as well as integrating cattle into human use grain fields (we can’t do that) and benefit our country in so many other ways than the ‘3.7 percent of greenhouse gases in the US.
Before you say why you won’t eat meat or consume dairy products, I hope you read this article and think differently. Farmers and ranchers depend on you to eat dairy and beef products, their beef and dairy herds are their life. They are always caring for their animals and crop at all hours of the day.
I think we should be more grateful, specifically for all of the food we get on our tables. We are lucky to be able to have the opportunity to eat beef and dairy. If you ever get the chance, I suggest touring a dairy or beef production.
It may just change your perspective on farming and ranching, as well as to enjoy your steak a little more.
Eat beef. Support the beef industry.