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The Environmental and Climate Benefits of Grass-Fed, Pasture-Rotated Cattle

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page, Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

Ever since the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization blamed livestock for 18% of the world's man-made greenhouse-gas emissions in a 2006 report, the globalists, always looking to use the environmental movement as a power-grabbing scheme, have used the report to further their war against eating meat. They play 'good-cop' against the giant factory-farming operations whose practices actually do harm to the environment and the health of consumers who eat their antibiotic and hormone laden fare - always posturing but never really doing anything of value. Meanwhile, the real solution remains largely ignored.

From the fossil fuels, fertilizers, pesticides, and farmland used to raise the GMO grain they consume to the bare, greenhouse-gas emitting feedlots on which they spend their last days, factory-farm raised cows actually do harm the environment. The solution, however, is not to stop eating meat or raising cows. Instead, it is to raise cows in an environmentally sustainable way, a way that is better for the environment than if there were no pastured cows at all.

Tragically, the land farmers depend on to grow our food is becoming increasingly devoid of nutrients, giving the food we eat a fraction of the nutritive value it once had. Every year, the US loses three billion tons of topsoil. According to the University of Wisconsin, land devoted to soy and corn production lost six times the topsoil of grazed pasture. Devoting more land to pasture grazing (and rotating that with growing crops) could mitigate this loss and even help create more topsoil.

Carbon sequestration: cows putting carbon where we need it the most

When cattle are rotated from pasture to pasture they eat a portion of the grass, spurring new growth which results in more net biomass. Cows then fertilize the land by trampling manure and decaying organic materials into the soil. The healthier plant roots retain more water and microbes, keeping carbon dioxide underground which, in turn, helps foster new plant growth. According to a twelve year USDA study of ways to improve soil quality, published in the Soil Science Society of America Journal (2010), moderately grazed areas actually have more stored carbon in the soil, both increasing fertility and slowing global warming.



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