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Climate Change and Ranching

Supporting land management practices that produce healthy rangelands is one way we can address the issue of climate change. We’ve all heard the reports that eating less meat will help the earth and that cattle are the main cause of deforestation, global warming, methane emissions, etc. We disagree, and so do scientists who have found that cattle are an essential tool in creating soil health. It’s not the cattle that are the problem, it’s poor management! When managed properly and moved often, cattle provide crucial fertilization for healthy soils. Even vegans depend upon cattle for nitrogen-rich, well-fertilized soils to grow vegetables and plants that capture and clean water. It’s all connected. We manage our animals in ways that benefit the whole ecosystem, not just one part of it.

A January 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists titled “Raising the Steaks: Global Warming and Pasture Raised Beef Production in the United States” concluded that the use of pasture management practices that improve the nutritional quality of forage crops could reduce methane emissions from pasture beef by about 15 to 30 percent. Click here to read the report. 

“The good news is that beef production can also be part of the solution,” the report said.  “Scientists looked at ways pasture-based beef producers could lower their climate emissions and take greater advantage of pastures’ capacity to remove heat-trapping carbon from the atmosphere and store it in soil. “

At Morris Grassfed, cattle fill their ecological niche every day. They fertilize and turn the soil, encouraging the growth of deep-rooted native, perennial grasses that store sunlight, capture water, and slow the runoff that causes soil erosion. Our cattle graze on open pastures, with plenty of access to clean water and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. By building up the soil, we are creating a “carbon sink” that sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and stores it in the soil. 

A September 7, 2010 article by environmental reporter Judith D. Schwartz  in Time Magazine described how cattle ranching can save the grasslands, sequester carbon, and make the land more productive. How to Save the Grasslands: Bring in More Cattle. Read the full article here.