TORRINGTON, Wyo. – “It’s gathering a foothold – it’s for us to decide what stands we’ll take,” resident Angie Chavez said of the anti-beef movement during a presentation at the Goshen County Cattlewomen meeting Friday.
Members gathered in the Brand Room at the Rendezvous Center and enjoyed a box lunch while Chavez spoke on several issues facing the beef industry, including concerns about greenhouse emissions and a push for cellular-and plant-based meats.
Chavez, who has a background in journalism, said she first heard about cattle’s “supposed” large carbon footprint in the 1990s while attending a national conference for an ag-based Wyoming publication.
In the last several years, various celebrities and organizations have been working to promote and raise funds to produce cellular (in vitro cultivation of animal cells) meat, in addition to “meat” made entirely of plants.
Along with several other sources, Chavez cited facts found in “Environmental Footprints of Beef Cattle Production in the United States,” from the journal, Agricultural Systems.
“Here are some realities we can use,” she said, stating beef production is responsible for 3.3 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and the global livestock figure is 14.5 percent, not 18 percent as the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization previously claimed; some plants (around 90 percent of animal feed) only provide value to humans when upcycled through the beef industry; it takes 308 gallons of water to produce a pound of boneless beef, not 24,000 gallons per past estimates; cattle use around 5 percent of U.S. water withdrawals, all of which is recycled; the U.S. beef industry accounts for 0.7 percent of total national consumption of fossil fuels; and improved production efficiencies have resulted in a lower carbon footprint and the use of fewer natural resources.
“U.S. beef has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world,” Chavez said. “We produce 18 percent of the world’s beef with only 8 percent of the world’s cattle,” adding later, concerning misconceptions about the beef industry, “I think ignoring this issue isn’t an option for us.”