Often you will hear people argue against eating meat based on the treatment of animals and the negative environmental impacts that some companies make while producing their livestock. There has recently been a greater push for purchasing sustainably-sourced products, including beef and other meats, as opposed to vetoing meat entirely.
Here are some reasons as to why you should sustainably raise cattle as well as ways that you can do so within Texas.
What Does it Mean to be Sustainable?
From the definition as determined by natural scientists, to be sustainable means that you are living, or in this case producing, without draining the environment of its natural resources. This means taking steps to reduce waste and keep the ecological damage to your land at a minimum.
An extreme example of unsustainable cattle raising is the practice of deforestation by some companies in order to make room for more cattle. Cattle ranching and deforestation going hand in hand in many South American countries is one of the main reasons that people give for boycotting beef. Not only does razing major chunks of the Amazon Rainforest lead to a significant loss of oxygen being produced and put into our atmosphere, but it also leads to severe soil erosion and contamination.
Not only is this bad for on a worldwide scale, but the populations of people living in surrounding areas are faced with severe flooding, undrinkable water, and declining property value.
One important question that needs to be answered is why should you, as a landowner and cattle rancher, care about being sustainable? Here is some insight into why you might consider the sustainable practice.
1. New Market Demands
More and more people are focusing on the impact that they, as consumers, have on the environment. Not only are younger generations more environmentally aware than ever, but Generation Y and sooner are showing a higher and higher preference for sustainable consumption. This means that as a sustainable producer, you will have a growing market ready to purchase your goods.
2. The Environment Matters (especially to landowners)
With the negative environmental impacts of cattle ranching on a massive scale, the state of independent landowner's property is also affected. The acceleration of global warming within the past few decades has left lands in disarray. If you just look at Texas within the past decade you can see the result of this. We've had some of the worst flooding and droughts in recorded history within the past twenty years.
Working on making an environmentally sustainable cattle ranch, you can not only stop this progression but also provide an example to others trying to combat this environmental decline.
3. End the Stigma
A revolution starts with a single person. With a negative image of the beef and cattle industry as a result of massive corporations' poor treatment of animals, fighting for a better image to those who oppose any kind of meat consumption may seem fruitless. However, if you mark yourself as a sustainable producer and help educate people on the fact that you can consume meat ethically, that perception is bound to change. There has already been evidence of this attitude change in recent years and we can assume that this trend will only continue as more and more producers decide to ethically and sustainably raise their animals.
How Can You Be Sustainable?
1. Pay Attention to the Fine Print
Check out the Cattle Site's article about what can be defined as sustainable cattle management. You may be surprised at what being sustainable entails!
2. Consider Selling at Local Markets
As mentioned in the 'New Market Demands' section, more and more consumers are wanting to be environmentally aware with their purchasing. With that knowledge, people are often willing to pay a premium for products that they know were sustainably sourced. Products sold at Farmer's Markets are a great example of this in practice. On a weekend morning, you can often find a bustling square in a city or town with local vendors selling their crops, eggs, or meat. Although the prices that vendors charge are much more than grocery store prices, they have no shortage of customers.
3. Avoid Practices that Lead to Unnecessary Waste
Much of the cattle waste that comes from ranching is extremely literal. Cattle manure releases methane gas, which is part of the reason that the ozone is developing holes. This harmful gas can be reduced by taking some intentional steps. For a more detailed look at how you can reduce waste, check out the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Science's article.
Being sustainable may just help you but also the world around you for future generations. Not only will sustainability keep the world in a healthier state, but it also empowers the people around you to strive for the same goal.