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Sustainable beef can be part of solution to climate change

Sustainable beef can be part of solution to climate change

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Sustainability of beef is a topic that has everyone’s attention.

Cattle are criticized for their production of enteric methane. However, carbon is a cycle, and while the net greenhouse gas (GHG) production of the beef industry has been estimated at 2% of U.S. GHG production and 6% of the global GHG production based on information from the EPA and the FAO, the production systems that produce beef have the potential to capture and store much more carbon than beef produce.

A review by several noted scientists who study this was published in the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. It suggests that by adopting adaptive multi-paddock grazing management and conservation based cropping practices including cover crops, reduced tillage and reduced fertilizer use through legumes and manure, that beef production can be not only carbon neutral but carbon negative.

In fact, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association recently announced sustainability goals that include climate neutrality for the beef industry by 2040. Other sustainability goals announced included:

Economic: Create and enhance opportunities that result in a quantifiable increase in producer profitability and economic sustainability by 2025.

Social: Enhance trust in cattle producers as responsible stewards of their animals and resources by expanding educational opportunities in animal care and handling programs to further improve animal well-being.

Social: Continuously improve our industry’s workforce safety and well-being.

At the Iowa Beef Center, we have resources for producers to work toward these sustainability goals.

Full text of this column at

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