Cattle Ranching and Environmental Stewardship
A Commitment to Sustainability and Green Farming Practices
America’s cattle ranchers have a vested interest in sustainable environmental practices. After all, the industry thrives on multi-generational family farms, meaning land stewardship and best practices for green farming go hand-in-hand with managing a successful and long-term family business.
Read about 40 Ways Cattle Farmers and Ranchers Help the Environment.
In fact, recent research indicates that the beef industry continues to make great strides toward increased environmental sustainability. Using less water, producing less greenhouse gas, and preventing overgrazing have become cornerstones of modern cattle ranching.
Greener and More Efficient Beef Production
Today’s cattlemen are significantly more environmentally sustainable then they were 30 years ago. A study by Washington State University in 2007 found that today’s farmers and ranchers raise 13% more beef from 30% fewer cattle. When compared with beef production in 1977, each pound of beef produced today:
- Produces 16% less carbon emissions
- Takes 33% less land
- Requires 12% less water
Cattle Raising and Air Quality
The United States cattle industry continues to be a model for the rest of the world in terms of greenhouse gas mitigation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, beef production accounts for only 2.8% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared to 26% for transportation.
Beef Production and Land Management
Land is critical to cattle operations and their environmental efficiency. According to the Economic Research Service of USDA, approximately 85% of all land is not suitable for agricultural crops. As a result, by grazing animals on this land, ranchers double the land area that can be used to produce food.
The beef industry honors leaders in conservation with an annual award. The Environmental Stewardship Award recognizes farmers and ranchers who have successfully combined natural resource conservation efforts with good business practices. It also encourages the adoption of new environmental best practices across the entire industry.
Furthermore, the beef industry encourages all cattle farmers and ranchers to practice responsible resource stewardship by:
- Managing for the environment as a whole, including climate, soil, topography, plant and animal communities;
- Monitoring and documenting effective practices and regularly soliciting input from expert sources to improve resource management;
- Helping develop public and private research projects; and
- Never knowingly causing or permitting public or private land abuses
Get the facts on cattle ranching and the environment with this fact sheet