In its efforts to reduce emissions from agriculture, Ireland is seeking to kill 200,000 cows in the next three years in order to meet climate target.
European governments have been targeting the agriculture industry for several years. Last month, the European Union approved a 1.6 billion Dutch plan to buy out livestock farmers in an effort to reduce nitrogen pollution.
The Biden Administration is making similar plans targeting American farmers. Special President Envoy For Climate John Kerry recently warned at a climate summit for the U.S. Department of Agriculture that the human race’s need to produce food to survive creates 33% of the world’s total greenhouse gasses.
Microsoft Billionaire Bill Gates also is obsessing about cattle emissions, providing financial support to companies that are developing seaweed supplements and gas masks for cows.
But farmer groups and activists are fighting back.
Katy Atkinson, an agricultural advocate who raises cattle in Albany County, told Cowboy State Daily that this conversation on emissions from the industry isn’t considering the beneficial impacts of cattle to the environment and the climate.
She said cattle contribute to drought resistance, soil health and wildfire reduction. Just before cattle were introduced to North America and the industry began raising them, Atkinson said there were thousands of buffalo roaming the plains.
Cows and buffalo are both ruminants, which is a type of animal that brings back food from its stomach and chews it again. These animals’ digestive systems produce methane emissions. Today’s cattle population is similar in numbers to that of the buffalo herds.
“So, the methane emissions from ruminant animals aren’t anything new,” Atkinson said.
Cattle also benefit plant life, Atkinson said.
“You need ruminant animals to forage grasses, because they’re the only things that can,” she explained.
Pigs, for example, are monogastric and can’t break down high fiber content in grasses. Cow’s digestive system can break the grasses down, and then they fertilize the ground.
So, through proper cattle grazing management, Atkinson said the cattle she’s raising are helping plants to grow.
In the atmosphere, the methane they burp out — most of it is released through the mouth of the animal — breaks down in 10 to 15 years into carbon dioxide and water. The plants that cattle help to grow use that carbon dioxide. The carbon then gets put back into the soil through the grasses’ roots.
“So the cattle are essential in helping to keep that carbon trapped in the ground,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said cattle have other benefits to the climate that are being ignored in the focus on just their emissions. Whenever soil cracks or fissures, it releases carbon into the air.
The animals walking upon the soil compacts it and helps keep the carbon trapped in the soil.
She said one study done by the University of Florida found that between 10% and 30% of the world’s carbon storage is found under the feet of U.S. cattle.
Adapted from Cowboy State Daily