I was reading press releases, blogs and personal opinions from those in U.S. agriculture who attended the recent United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. These ag attendees were shocked at the large majority against the use of cattle for human consumption.
The activists claim animal agriculture will be responsible for 50 percent of global emissions by 2030. Methane is the big issue of concern, and environmentalists see cattle as the leading cause.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack said research and facts in USDA’s new programs in animal production should be a part of the climate discussion.
“There are those who seek to restrict or reduce animal protein production,” he states. “The Biden administration will be proactive in aggressively countering those attacks. We have got to be aggressive in that space, we can’t ignore it.”
For agriculture, USDA is pursuing multiple workstreams to reduce methane emissions from the agricultural sector. This includes the adoption of alternative manure management systems and other methane-reducing practices, the expansion of on-farm generation and use of renewable energy, the development of a climate-smart agricultural commodities partnership initiative and increased investments in agricultural methane quantification and related innovations, as stated in the U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan.
We hope they realize cattle grazing out on the range can help solve climate change issues.
Environmental and animal activists from around the world also mounted a campaign for a Plant Based Treaty, calling on governments to put food systems at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis. The Plant Based Treaty seeks to halt the expansion of animal agriculture and deforestation, incentivize a shift to a plant-based food system by redirecting subsidies, taxes and public information campaigns, along with reforestation and rewilding of land.
“We don’t buy into that,” says Vilsack. “We are providing resources to finance demonstration projects to make that case even stronger.”
There are a number of potential programs developed to do just that.
This is one side of the Biden administration we hope will stay favorable to cattle. The other side is very disturbing to say the least.
This past week, the Public Lands Council came out with a Public Policy Update which explained the progressive side of the Biden administration’s plans to enact policies which will make ranching and farming harder, especially in the West. Basically, the administration is giving the extreme environmentalists everything they want.
First, the Environmental Protection Agency announced this month their intent to repeal the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. In addition to the repeal, the proposal considers the regionalization of the Waters of the U.S. rule, as well as climate change implications.
Other policies, laws or regulations being reviewed are the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act (ESA), the definition of critical habitat under the ESA, changes to the Mexican gray wolf policies and revisions on land use plans regarding Greater sage grouse conservation.
Any of these changes could really restrict ranching in the West. We’ll have to put up a strong effort to keep the changes compatible to ranching.