Consider facts before attacking American ag

Thursday, February 27, 2020

American agriculture is under attack. It seems like every day I read or see a news story attacking either farming or ranching. As I am a third generation rancher/ farmer this is very concerning to me.

The claim that cows are causing climate change is a claim that I believe is being vastly overstated by groups that don’t believe people should be eating meat. Methane, which cows emit, is considered a greenhouse gas, but unlike CO2, which your car emits, it has a short life in the atmosphere. About 10 years versus 200-plus years. Therefore, there is and has been a methane cycle that has existed for years.

In all fairness, methane is considered a more “powerful” greenhouse gas but it comes and goes unlike CO2, which has a cumulative effect. Methane levels may be higher but there are several things (like humans) that produce methane.

I don’t care if you believe in God, intelligent design or evolution, cattle were put on this earth to do one thing, to convert cellulose (grass, hay, silage, etc.) into a usable dietary protein for humans. I believe that those who think you can replace that need with plant-based protein are wrong, and even if you could, it would not be wise.

Most of today’s farming uses genetically modified seeds, fertilizers, fuel and herbicides. That and a good dose of technology is how less than 2 percent of the population are able to feed the other 98 percent on an ever-shrinking amount of quality farm ground.

Those that think we need to convert these traditional farm acres into “organic” acres need to realize that the input costs are much higher and the yields much lower on these organic acres. I know because I have done it.

Because of those increased inputs a n d decreased yields you would need many more farmers and much more farmland and I don’t see that happening.

Much of the cattle industry involves vast swaths of grasslands that help with the sequestration of CO2. Good grazing practices are not only good for these grasslands, but we are using a renewable resource in what I consider a very natural way. I believe that those that think animal agriculture is a bad thing are simply wrong.

I know that there are shortcuts that are taken in the agricultural industry that I may not agree with, but as long as people want cheap, plentiful food raised by a very small portion of the population, with substantial financial risk for small to no margins, these shortcuts will occur.

In closing I will offer two pieces of advice:

1. Go eat a real burger and do it guilt free.

2. As I once saw on a bumper sticker “Never cuss a farmer or a rancher with your mouth full.”

Mark Pederson