Mark Rhoades recent editorial in June 25 issue of the Pilot-Tribune shows he’s instinctively on the right track about beef. It’s not the cow, it’s the how – how they are raised that is – that controls their climate impact. One hundred percent holistically-managed grass-fed ruminants, including cows, actually are the only way to stop desertification of our planet. Grasslands evolved with animals who grazed them. When you stop grazing the grass, it dies and the region becomes desert.

The ability of well-managed grass pasture to absorb carbon from the atmosphere – a natural process known as carbon sequestration – actually reduces net emissions. As cattle and other ruminants graze pasture, grass growth is stimulated.  This growth results in an increase of CO2 absorption through the grasses’ leaves and they store the CO2 in the mass of roots underground in a far more stable form of carbon, resulting in carbon sequestration. A recent study showed 3.5 pounds of carbon being sequestered for every 1 pound of beef raised. Indeed, scientists now think that grazing cattle on pastures and restoring grasslands could play a vital role in slowing the global warming process.

ln the March/April 2016 issue of the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, they show that converting our current system of beef production to 100 percent grass feeding and well-managed grazing could sequester huge amounts of carbon in pastures and grasslands — much more carbon than is released into the atmosphere by the production of beef and milk from those cattle. In fact, much more than is released by all of North American agriculture.

Perennial pastures used for grazing can decrease soil erosion by 80 percent over croplands and markedly improve water quality. In fact, there is no better way to filter runoff than through healthy grasslands. Well managed pastures have more porosity due to roots and microorganisms in the soil that soak up water like a sponge and help rebuild our aquifers. Grasslands can absorb water 30 times better than croplands and are more resistant to droughts. Learn more about regenerative agriculture. The best way to eat environmentally friendly is not to skip beef, it is to eat 100 percent grass fed beef.

Karen Dageforde


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