Skip to Content

The Weekly News Source for Wyoming's Ranchers, Farmers and AgriBusiness Community

Heart of Ag: The American Cattle Rancher is an Environmental Success Story

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

May is a busy month on the ranch – calving, planting, synchronizing for breeding through timed artificial insemination, fixing fence, preparing for haying, branding, working and loading out cow/calf pairs to head to summer grass, and the list goes on.

It’s long days, late nights and physical labor, and although it can be stressful trying to get it all done, there’s nothing sweeter or more gratifying than watching cattle step off of the trailers after a long winter and enjoy their first bites of green grass on pasture. 

It’s nature at its finest on the ranch, where native grasses grow in abundance, butterflies and bees bounce from one wildflower to the next and wildlife such as fox, deer, rabbits, mice, turtles, badgers, coyotes and more tend to their young.

When ruminant animals like sheep, cattle and bison are on the range, they protect precious wildlife habitat from a plow or modern development. Grass cover naturally sequesters carbon. It reduces erosion and keeps the top soil intact. Grasslands capture water, and native grasses have roots that go deep into the soil, thus eliminating compaction. 

With every step a cow takes, she aerates the soil with her hooves. With every bite she eats, she removes overgrown brush, reducing the spread of wildfires and promoting new plants to grow. She can live in perfect concert with the environment around her, an incredible feat which dates back to the beginning of time.

And perhaps what is most incredible is beef animals can convert non-edible cellulosic materials like grass and other roughages and forages and convert it into the most nutrient-dense superfood on planet Earth – beef. 

Today’s cattle – thanks to advancements in genetics, nutrition, health and management – can do all of this while using fewer natural resources than a generation ago. 

On top of this, when we utilize a beef animal from nose-to-tail, we receive 100-plus byproducts which enrich our everyday lives. And, if we factor in the base-level carbon footprint of the U.S. beef industry, cattle contribute less than 3.5 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Yet, despite the wild success story that is the modern American cattle rancher, we are continually and repeatedly told cows are bad for the planet and beef is bad for your health.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) Green New Deal really escalated the conversation, and we all scoffed because we knew the truth. It was right in front of our eyes, evident on the prairie where our cattle roam free.

Fast forward just a few years later, and thanks to Biden’s 30×30 Initiative to take 30 to 50 percent more land out of production and into the federal government’s control, combined with Green New Deal politicians who are following in the path of Al Gore knowing the climate change hoax is paved with gold, and now all of a sudden, we are seeing legislators in our rural, red, conservative agricultural states falling in lockstep with this sinister agenda to strip producers off of the land and make food less accessible in this country. 

To add insult to injury, they tell us with a straight face sequestering carbon through permanent pipelines going through private lands is the way to go about it. They forget to mention the only way projects like this are possible is by building a grossly oversized government and fleecing taxpayers of money through tax credits and incentives, but this is just a minor detail, right? 

Instead, they insist this is the future, carbon markets are king and ethanol and corn will fail without their precious pipeline – even if it’s at the expense of seizing control of the neighbors’ land and destroying rural communities where people take care of each other while they do it.

Allow me to say the quiet part out loud – it’s a complete and total government grift, a climate change boondoggle and an attempt to gaslight the general public into thinking this is for the “benefit of all.” 

The truth is right in front of us, folks – God made our land, water, air and natural resources to work in perfect harmony together, and anytime the government attempts to pick winners and losers in agriculture, it wreaks havoc on the delicate balance of our ecosystem, our food system and our national security.

At the epicenter of it all is the American farmer and rancher who have been longtime stewards of these resources while holding the critical responsibility of feeding the world, so let them do what they do best, without government intervention. Let the free market work. 

Simply stated, any current propositions to usher in the Green New Deal do not have our best intentions in mind. As individuals vote in this election season, take special note on both sides of the aisle of the people who are truly servant leaders, ready to fight for the people and the land under our feet, verses those who are bought and paid for by the corporate oligarchy, ready to sell our hopes and dreams out to the highest bidder. 

The difference is distinct, and once one sees it, it’s hard to ignore. But these are just the musings of an American cattle rancher – I’ll go back to watching my cattle grazing on the South Dakota prairie, knowing this is exactly as God intended it to be. 

Amanda Radke is a rancher, author, motivational speaker and podcast host. For more from Radke, visit

Back to top