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This has the potential to be the largest beef story of the year, depending on how things are handled going forward. Clearly a radical religious ideology is not allowing a few simple truths stand in its way. With the world's largest (ostensibly dairy) herd, it is not surprising that India has also been one of the largest producers of beef in the world for many years.
Just like everywhere else, after the end of a productive milking life, cattle and buffalos are culled to make way for more productive animals. Similarly, since the rise of tractors for agricultural operations, demand for draught oxen has steadily declined, meaning that nearly half of all cattle are surplus and need to be culled.
What the BJP thinks will happen to feed supplies if all of these surplus animals are not culled is unclear, what should be clear though is that it is a disaster in the making – in almost any terms you care to consider. More ruminants to feed with no increase in fodder will lead to a combination of malnutrition in dairy animals and a reduction in milk output, and increased starvation amongst surplus animals.
In environmental terms, this will lead to increases in uncontrolled grazing on common property resources and lead to their deterioration. Naturally impacts per kg of milk produced will rise considerably, as there will no longer be a by–product in the form of meat. Diplomatically, tensions with countries currently buying Indian meat will certainly increase as supplies diminish, and in human nutritional terms, millions of people in Asia will see access to meat dry up.
The knock on effect will naturally be for other producer countries to fill that void, and since we are talking about the cheapest end of the commodity market, the void will be filled by countries paying the least attention to sanitary or sustainability criteria. If we were talking about a small producer like Botswana, these effects would be local, minor and probably unnoticed.
With India however, consistently one of the top three exporters in the world, these effects could be very real if the government persists in following the ill considered course they are currently on.
India's Cattle Ban Could 'Halt' Beef Exports
Oscar Rousseau, GlobalMeatNews | May 31, 2017
The Indian government's ban on the sale of cattle for slaughter is likely to have dramatic impact on its billion–dollar cattle export trade.
Many cattle traders have come under repeated attacks from activists fiercely opposed to the beef industry. And with the Indian government taking a firm stance on cattle trade, Matt Dalgleish, a livestock market analyst at Australia–based insight firm Mecardo thinks an exit from the export industry is likely.
Countries in the Persian Gulf as well as South and South East Asia may be glad of this if the India ban really goes into effect.
Mexican Beef Exporters Look to Muslim Markets as US Alternatives
By David Alire Garcia and Theopolis Waters, Reuters | May 12, 2017
Mexico's growing beef industry is targeting Muslim consumers in the Middle East for its prime cuts as it seeks to reduce dependence on buyers in the United States.
That has firms looking to the Middle East, where most meat is imported from non–Muslim countries using animals slaughtered by the halal method prescribed by Islamic law.
Given the history of live export and the problems created by dependence upon it in the North of Australia, it is surprising that there are plans to double to volume to increase live export to China. Given the demand in China, however, and the traceability systems that Australia already has in place, there is certainly great potential for increased exports.
Andrew Forrest's Beef with Gina Rinehart's Cattle Export Plans
Sue Neales, The Weekly Times | May 14, 2017
Australian iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest has slammed the bold plan of fellow mining magnate and Kidman cattle queen Gina Rinehart to export 800,000 live cattle a year from Australia's north to China for slaughter.
Mr Forrest, who owns five West Australian cattle stations and a herd of 40,000 cattle in his Minderoo Pastoral group, said Mrs Rinehart's idea of turning Australia's top end into a mass "cattle yard" for other nations to source livestock, ship overseas and to convert into high–value meat themselves was a potential "disaster" for Australia, The Australian reports.
Here's another potentially huge transaction, with likely Chinese interest in investing in the Northern Australian beef industry.
$1b Price Tag Likely on Any CPC Sale Deal
Beef Central | May 25, 2017
Consolidated Pastoral Company could realise up to $1 billion in the current beef industry climate, if majority owner, British private equity giant Terra Firma, goes ahead with a sale.
By no means the biggest story out of Brazil, nor the newest, but another reminder, that although Brazil has made great strides in terms of intensification over the past decades, producing more cattle of 20million fewer ha now than in the 1990s, there is still potential for further improvement. While pasture composition and management can have a significant positive impact, silvo pastoral systems can deliver even greater benefits.
Brazil Could Lead Way in 'Sustainable Intesification' of Agriculture, Scientists Say
Farming UK | May 17, 2017
Brazil, the second largest beef producer in the world, could lead the way in sustainable intensification in agriculture, according to new research published by scientists.
The paper, ‘Sustainable intensification of Brazilian livestock production through optimised pasture restoration' has been published as part of the Agricultural Systems journal.
The group of scientists have outlined plans to optimise Brazilian grazing pastures in order to increase beef productivity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The scientists have outlined plans to reduce the environmental footprint of Brazilian beef.
This is a fairly surprising letter, not least because it is to WHO, the World Health Organisation, which as far as I am aware has no remit to comment on food production systems.
Putting that to one side however, we are still left with the impression that somehow more intensive production, and specifically the consumption of meat is worse that alternative systems whereas as we see above, sustainable intensification is actually environmentally beneficial. Given the recent news from India regarding the sale of cattle for slaughter in that country, we may soon see a very graphic illustration of why culling unproductive animals is an important part of sustainable land use in social, health, environmental, economic and nutritional terms.
Factory Farms Put Climate at Risk, Experts Say in Urging World Health Officials to Speak Out
Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News | May 23, 2017
Roughly 200 experts in disciplines from nutrition to animal welfare are calling on the World Health Organization to take a more serious look at the impact of industrial livestock production on human health and the climate.
Sara Place, who works on sustainable beef production for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said Monday that the letter's points about the impact of the beef industry globally misrepresents the U.S. beef industry, the world's largest producer.
"In the U.S., direct emissions from beef, in terms of methane emissions, was 1.9 percent of U.S. emissions," Place said, citing 2014 numbers from the EPA. "Transportation is 25 percent of our emissions. Numbers that are accurate at the global level don't necessarily apply to the U.S."
Not many people are likely to have been surprised by the US decision to withdraw from the Paris climate, but there are certainly many in the US and around the world who think it represents a ceding of world leadership in this area. Several US states and hundreds of companies are willing to take on that role instead.
Paris Pullout: Defiant US Climate Alliance Emerges in Its Wake
Peter Grier, Jessica Mendoza & Henry Gass, Christian Science Monitor | June 2, 2017
President Trump's historic decision to withdraw from the Paris global climate accord has produced an extraordinary reaction from a group of US states, cities, and corporations opposed to the move. They've banded together in a loose coalition that intends to try and meet US greenhouse gas emission targets set by the pact, despite official Washington policy.
Does American leadership always reside in the White House? That's a question to which the US Climate Alliance – which includes the governors of at least four states, dozens of mayors, and more than 100 corporations – may provide at least a partial answer.