Cattle Industry Contributing Back to the Environment

Clint Thompson Beef, Cattle

Pictured is beef cattle.

A fuller picture started emerging of the environmental footprint of beef in the United States a little over a year ago. An Agricultural Research Service (ARS)-led team completed a comprehensive life-cycle analysis quantifying the resource use and various environmental emissions of beef cattle production in the U.S. to establish baseline measures that the U.S. beef industry can use to explore ways of reducing its environmental footprint and improve sustainability.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Marty Smith, told AgNet Media that cattle producers contribute a lot back to the environment. 

Smith says it is a challenge to answer all of those negative claims against the industry. 

Among the results to emerge from that ARS study was:

  • The seven regions’ combined beef cattle production accounted for 3.3 percent of all U.S. GHG emissions (By comparison, transportation and electricity generation together made up 56 percent of the total in 2016 and agriculture in general 9 percent).
  • Fossil energy (for example, fuel) use in cattle production accounted for less than 1 percent of the total consumed nationally.

According to the ARS, this data will be used to generate a national assessment of the beef industry’s resource use, economics, net losses of GHG and other emissions, providing a critical tool for sustainably producing beef as an important source of lean protein and nutrients.