Livestock Environmental Impact - The Facts

May 18, 2016

Global warming and increased greenhouse gas emissions are often blamed on animal agriculture. Some even claim that livestock are contributing more than cars and transportation. This notion was sparked from a statement that was released by the United Nations. After the statement was released, they realized the figures were not accurate and said they would recalculate the figures and release new numbers.

Data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows all of American agriculture combined contributes seven percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions, while livestock accounts for only three percent of the greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the transportation industry accounts for twenty-six percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. This data shows that American agriculture contributes less than one third of the greenhouse gas emissions compared to transportation.

Judith L. Capper, Ph.D., from Washington State University states that, “All food has an impact, whether it is apples, tofu, and cheeseburgers.” After putting it into context, beef production has taken major steps to reduce the environmental impact of beef production. The use of technology has played a major role in this decrease. To give you a better idea:

  • Animal usage has been cut by 70%
  • Beef producers have cut land use by 34%
  • Water usage has been reduced by 14%
  • The carbon foot print on a per pound of beef basis has been reduced by 18%

It is true that beef production and animal agriculture do contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. However, these numbers are much lower than you may expect. Producers and scientists are working daily to reduce the environmental impact the industry contributes.

Video Podcasts and Webinars

  • Grass or grain? Is there a definitively sustainable beef production system?


    The webinar examined the science relating to grass-fed and grain-fed beef in terms of sustainable... read more »

  • 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans Update


    Kris Sollid, Registered Dietitian with the International Food Information Council and Sarah Romo... read more »

  • Meat in the Diet


    read more »

Social Media

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