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The Future of Meat
Marian Swain, The Breakthrough | December, 14, 2016
As global demand for meat grows, the environmental "hoofprint" of livestock production could grow, too. Demand–side strategies are unlikely to reverse the long historical trend of increasing meat consumption as countries develop economically, but there are ways to improve the environmental performance of livestock systems on the production end.
Contrary to popular perception, modern, intensive livestock production can offer environmental efficiencies compared to traditional, lower–input systems. In a world where billions of people want meat on their plates, it will be crucial to leverage the efficiency of intensive systems to meet demand and minimize environmental harm.
The Future’s Bright; The Future’s…Meaty? A Response to Breakthrough's Essay on Meat Production
Jude Capper, Bovidiva | December 20, 2016
This week I was asked to respond to an excellent Breakthrough article on the environmental impacts of beef production. As ever, I hope the comments below provide food for thought (pardon the pun) and I urge you to read the full Breakthrough article as well as the other comments by Jayson Lusk, Maureen Ogle and Alison van Eenennaam.
Every food has an environmental impact, whether it’s cheeseburgers or tofu, coffee or corn.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us and, as a scientist, sustainability consultant and parent, I don’t have a problem with food production being one of the biggest contributors to global environmental impacts. Why? Because food production is one of the few industries that are absolutely essential for human life. However, it’s clear that we need to take steps to reduce environmental impacts from human activity, and as such, the livestock industry is often criticised for both resource use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
What's More Sustainable: Grain–Fed or Grass–Fed Beef?
BEEF Magazine | December 8, 2016
With more attention being paid to sustainability, there is a growing debate about what constitutes sustainable beef production. This leads to the question: is there one production system more sustainable than another? And given the increased focused on sustainability, the sustainability of conventional vs. grass fed beef production is a fair question. The question of which is more sustainable is difficult to answer since it depends upon what area of sustainability you’re focused on.
For example, the grain–finishing system that represents approximately 95% of U.S. beef production is considered by critics to be the pinnacle of what’s wrong with the U.S. beef system. Critics claim the resources used to raise the grain to feed to cattle would be better used to raise food to be consumed directly by humans. What the critics of the grain–fed beef system fail to recognize is that from a carbon footprint basis, the grain–fed model actually has the smallest footprint.
Forages Expert Puts Grazing First to Meet Beef Industry Challenges
Jane Atyeo, Tri–State Neighbor | December 15, 2017
Beef producers face plenty of challenges – from floods and droughts to consumers who have a growing hunger for chicken rather than beef.
But one expert says feed can be less of a challenge to a cattle operation, pointing out opportunities to produce high–quality animal products from high–quality forages.
Garry Lacefield worked for 41 years as a forages expert with the University of Kentucky Extension. He spoke to a group of about 60 cattle producers Nov. 30 at the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association’s annual convention in Watertown.
He noted several other countries – from Mongolia to Ireland – that raise their beef cattle without feeding them grain. The meat is better that way, he said, pointing to studies conducted on Angus steers that have found a forage diet results in leaner, more palatable meat compared to steers on a grain–based diet.
Focus On the Back Pocket, Meat Scientists Told
Shan Goodwin, Queensland Country Life | December 14, 2016
The world of meat science could do with more of an entrepreneurial culture. Countries like Australia and Ireland, for whom beef exports are a very big driver of the economy, should be at the forefront of that push.
This from one of Europe’s leading formulators of research priorities in food science, Declan J Troy, who spoke in Australia recently on how critical it is that discoveries be transferred from the lab to industry. He said the big push in Europe was for public research that delivered an economic impact and key to that was a knowledge transfer imperative.
Innovation was the ability to take new ideas and translate them into commercial outcomes, he said. To that end, a technology centre would be launched next year in Ireland which is a collaborative entity led by industry.
Beef Industry Small Part of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Deborah Gertz Husar, Herald–Whig | December 18, 2016
When it comes to protecting the environment, don't blame greenhouse gas emission problems on beef cattle or people who like a good steak. Not only is bovine flatulence not to blame, 98 percent of methane emissions from cattle are released through their mouth in a process called eructation, according to researchers at Oklahoma State University and reported by Drovers Cattle Network.
"As with the production of all foods, beef production results in greenhouse gas emissions; however, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates direct emissions from the U.S. beef industry are only 1.9 percent of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions," said Sara Place, assistant professor of sustainable beef cattle systems for OSU. By comparison, transportation and electricity accounted for 25.8 percent and 30.6 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2013.
Moredun Targets Livestock Gases
The Scottish Farmer | December 29, 2016
Grazing ruminants are responsible for approximately 50% of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture in Scotland, according to a recent report from Moredun.
Researchers there are focussed on reducing emissions intensity – the amount of GHG emitted per unit of meat or milk produced – as a way of reducing overall agricultural emissions in Scotland, a key requirement for the country to meet internationally agreed reduction targets.
Senior Moredun research scientist, Dr Philip Skuce, explained that production–limiting diseases were a significant constraint on efficient and sustainable livestock production in Scotland and around the world, and that dealing effectively with such endemic diseases offered an opportunity to reduce emissions from the livestock sector, often without compromising productivity or farm economics.