Apr 02, 2010
As we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day,
everyone’s doing what they can for the environment – recycling,
cutting back on energy use, biking to work.
There are many way’s to be green.
For America’s cattle farmers and ranchers, green
is protecting the land that is both our livelihood and our legacy.
Green is constantly developing new ways to raise more nutrient-rich beef
With fewer resources and with a smaller impact on the environment.
If we all do our part, we can preserve our Earth for this
generation – and generations to come.
BEEF. For Earth Day and Every Day.
Find out more about our everyday environmental commitment at
In November 2006, a report from the United Nations (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) titled Livestock’s Long Shadow was released. The report’s primary publicized finding was livestock production accounts for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
However, the statistics cited by Livestock’s Long Shadow differ significantly from those calculated by other reputable organizations, including the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—the U.S. authority on the environment and climate change. The claims made about global livestock production are not relevant to the United States. Those who claim the FAO report calls for reduced consumption of animal products fail to understand the authors’ intentions.
• The FAO report does not call for reduced consumption of animal products and, in fact, projects a doubling of meat production by 2050.
• U.S. livestock production practices should be considered a model for the rest of the world. According to Livestock’s Long Shadow, intensification provides “large opportunities for climate change mitigation,” “can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation,” and is the long-term solution to sustainable livestock production.
The report’s estimate for livestock’s contribution to GHG emissions (18%) is a global estimate, and not applicable to the United States or other developed countries.
• The entire U.S. agriculture sector accounts for only 6 percent of annual U.S. GHG emission, according to EPA(http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/downloads09/InventoryUSGhG1990-2007.pdf). Of this, livestock production is estimated to account for 2.8 percent of total U.S. emissions.
• A 2007 study by the University of Surrey, United Kingdom (U.K.), found
that livestock production plus processing accounted for 6.6 percent of U.K. GHG emissions. The 18 percent figure is far higher than the percentage calculated by other organizations.
• Another global estimate of livestock production found worldwide, livestock and manure contribute 5.1 percent to world GHG emissions (World Resources Institute or WRI: http://cait.wri.org/figures.php?page=/World-FlowChart).
This same group estimated that in the United States, livestock and manure contributed 2.5 percent to U.S. GHG emissions.
Livestock’s Long Shadow penalizes the livestock industry for emissions from land-use changes, specifically deforestation for feed production and grazing. Globally, a loss of sequestration due to these land-use changes amounts to roughly 2.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year (about 48% of total GHG emissions the report attributes to livestock).
• This type of land-use change does not occur in the United States, which actually has 16 million more acres of forestland than a century ago, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
The most significant change that affects carbon levels in the United States is the conversion of agricultural lands to development, which reduces land available for carbon sequestration.
Methane emissions in the United States are on the decline. According to EPA, overall U.S. Methane levels declined 5.1 percent from 1990 to 2007.
• Methane from livestock accounts for only 2.6 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions (EPA 2009).