Locally processed, grass fed beef from domestic cattle has, along with grazing sheep, blackberries and field mushrooms, a lower carbon footprint than any other food retailed, or consumed, within the UK’s borders.
The alternative to extensive beef farming, of ploughing up grassland to grow crops to feed humans, or intensive pigs and poultry, would have a much greater impact on climate change because colossal amounts of carbon would be released once the turf was broken.
This is the urgent message being passed on by the National Beef Association to government officials, misguided celebrities, or anyone else who falsely claims that cattle are bad for the environment and less beef should be eaten in an effort to decelerate climate change.
“The message that cattle, and their beef, are bad news for the planet is both misguided and wrong. Assertions that grazing cattle are a long term threat to humanity must be challenged before more misinformation sinks into the public’s consciousness and irreversible mistakes are made about the long term value of the UK’s herd,” explained the NBA’s chairman, Christopher Thomas-Everard.
“75 per cent of the UK’s agricultural area is moorland, rough grazing and grassland. If cattle numbers are reduced even further and the small ploughable part of grassland is ploughed up, then climate change would be accelerated.”
“Indeed a useful way to lock up more of the UK’s carbon would be to convert just 1% of arable land to pasture, because once a sward thickens, and develops, it acts as a long term, potentially permanent, carbon store.”
“This positive result can be achieved within three years, compared with 30 years after planting conifers, while the time taken to initiate carbon storage by broadleaved trees would be even longer.”
“All the UK’s beef cows graze throughout the summer and if they do not out winter on roughage they are fed hay, silage or straw over the housing period.”
“In contrast, imported beef consumes fuel when it is chilled, it eats up food miles during transport, and some imports from Brazil originate from land cleared by burning equatorial rain forest.”
“On top of this producing far more cereals and vegetables, as an alternative food to beef for humans, would demand additional fossil energy for all aspects of cultivation, on top of which even more oil and electricity would be required to fuel the milling, mixing, and distribution processes.”
“Beef cattle are eco-friendly animals which can convert otherwise useless rough grazing and by-products (such as straw) into highly nutritious, carbon neutral, food for humans while at the same time assisting a process in which harmful carbon, which would otherwise be released, can be locked up, if desired permanently, within environmentally friendly, and visually extremely pleasant permanent pastureland,” Mr Thomas-Everard added.
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