NCBA's Myriah Johnson Says Cattle Industry Proves Itself as Sustainability LeadersWed, 17 Nov 2021 18:12:51 CST
The cattle industry’s sustainability story has been a decade in the making, starting with the kick of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association’s Sustainability Research program. Myriah Johnson, senior director of beef sustainability research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, said in the beginning, the program focused on environmental sustainability. Today, the focus has widened to include economic and social sustainability.
New research has found methane, the main atmospheric pollutant produced from raising cattle, is less impactful on global climate change, long-term, than previously thought. The new findings offer relief and opportunity to an approximately 8,000-year-old livelihood facing modern-day challenges.
“As producers, we know it,” Johnson said. “(Now, we have) the research and data to be able to prove that cattle are good for the land.”
Johnson said there are multiple research studies taking place right now by the NCBA. One study is looking at how grazing cattle on public lands can protect communities and infrastructure from wildfire, according to Johnson.
“Cattle can help to reduce that fuel load and be very cost-effective partners in helping to protect those lands,” Johnson said.
She said another study conducted in California, found that taking cattle off the land does not guarantee that land will offer habitat for wildlife. On the contrary, over the past 30 years, when cattle are moved off the lands, more than three quarters were developed upon.
“That hurts our ecosystem services, it hurts the migratory pathways for wildlife and does not allow us to sequester carbon into the soil,” Johnson said. “Cattle can be a benefit and part of a solution to a lot of the climate struggles that we see … not just providing services from the environmental perspective but also the economic and social piece as well.”
Despite methane’s new classification, industry leaders are still developing ways to curb methane emissions from cattle production, Johnson said.
The last decade of work by the NCBA and cattle producers toward environmental responsibility and sustainability is beginning to pay off with climate-conscious consumers, according to Johnson.
Hit the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hays and Myriah Johnson talk about the environmental impact of cattle production and ongoing research.
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