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100% pasture-fed cattle are part of climate change solution – not the problem

The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) made the claims in a new paper in response to calls in the mainstream media for people to eat less meat for environmental reasons.


Lauren   Dean

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Lauren   Dean
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100% pasture-fed cattle are part of the climate change solution – not the problem

One hundred per cent grass-fed cattle and sheep should be seen as part of the solution to global warming, not the problem.

 

The Pasture-Fed Livestock Association (PFLA) made the claims in a new paper in response to calls in the mainstream media for people to eat less meat for environmental reasons.

 

The paper said produce from animals that are fed only grass and pasture – never any grains – help to build soil fertility and capture carbon, encourage wildlife, create high animal welfare and produce healthier meat for consumers to eat.

 

They also convert grass and other plants – which make up two thirds of farmed land in the UK – that humans cannot eat, into meat and milk.


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The cows carbon cycle. Credit: Smiling Tree Farm.
The cows carbon cycle. Credit: Smiling Tree Farm.

PFLA general manager Russ Carrington said: “We know ecologically this makes sense for animals, humans and the planet, but we do recognise that livestock contribute to climate change.

 

“So we have looked into this in detail and published a few answers to common environmental questions raised, based on latest science and research.”

 

It found animals which had been intensively reared did contribute to the problem, but that there was evidence that well-managed soils using grazing animals could help mitigate global warming, as well as the effects of drought and flooding.

 

Existing grasslands

Livestock fed grains instead rely heavily on fossil fuels to grow, harvest, process, transport and feed the grain – with fossil fuels ‘the most universally accepted cause of global warming and associated climate change’.

 

Pasture-fed cattle and sheep however typically rely on existing grasslands and very little use of additional inputs.

The paper added: “Methane emissions directly from the digestive system of grazing animals can exacerbate global warming but only if cattle and sheep populations increase.

 

“Why? Methane has a big immediate effect but a short lifespan, unlike carbon dioxide that persists in the atmosphere for much longer.

 

“Herds that have existed for generations at a stable size will not be adding directly to global warming with their methane emissions.”

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