29 Sept 2013 - Animal Agriculture is Critical to our Future

Over the past several decades, producers of livestock and poultry, people involved in animal agriculture have come under increasing fire from environmental groups, animal rights groups and other people who say the world would be a better place if we did away with livestock production and adopted an all-vegetarian diet. I’ve spent a great deal of time in this column and on my radio/TV broadcasts disagreeing with those arguments and trying to explain in unemotional scientific language why their claims make no sense. I always welcome assistance in this debate and this week I get some strong support from a scientific body, CAST, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology.

They released information from their recently completed research paper titled “Animal Feed vs. Human Food: Challenges and Opportunities in Sustaining Animal Agriculture Toward 2050”. I quote from their paper

“To feed the nine-plus billion people projected to inhabit the earth by 2050, some are proposing that land would be best used through systems producing food consumed directly by humans. There are only two approaches by which this could be accomplished.
- The first is to harvest forages currently produced and feed them directly to humans.
- The second is to cultivate grazing land to produce other crops that could be consumed directly by humans.
- Both of these approaches are impractical on a large scale and have great ecological risks.”

The paper goes on to say. . .
“The suggestion that animal agriculture should be abolished fails to consider the consequences of such an action.
- The “Meatless Mondays” program decreases greenhouse gas emissions by less than one-third of one percent, likely to have only a very small environmental impact within the United States.
- A large-scale reduction in meat consumption not only would result in the replacement of animal products with plant-based foods, but additional sources would be required for the diverse by-products, beyond food, that come from animal agriculture.
- A major advantage of livestock production is the ability to convert human-indigestible by-products into high-quality animal proteins for human diets.”

Concluding thoughts in the Cast paper…
“Global animal agriculture provides safe, affordable, nutrient-dense foodstuffs that support human health and well-being.
Livestock production plays a significant role in the economic and social sustainability of developed and developing countries.
A significant proportion of land is incapable of supporting the production of human food crops.”

If you are a livestock or poultry producer, I strongly suggest you read the full report, CAST Issue Paper 53-QC, available at www.cast-science.org. It strongly supports what I believe; animal agriculture is a very important part of our life and our economy.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.