Beef Sustainability Reality

Sustainability is about balancing multiple economic,social, and environmental issues at once,while recognizing tradeoffs.

Relative dfferences in carbon footprints between animals v plant foods don’t add up to significant GHG emissions dfferences at the national level.

More with Less
U.S. farmers and ranchers produce 18% of the world’s beef with only 8% of the world’s cattle.

What would be the consequences if every American went vegan?
U.S. GHG emissions 2.6% lower
Insufficient nutrients to feed the U.S. population
Increased use of synthetic fertilizer
Increased soil erosion

Fewer Cattle-Less Emissions
U.S. beef has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, 10 to 50 times lower than some nations.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from cattle only account for 2% of U.S. GHG emissions.
Typical Emissions
BEEF 2% LANDFILL 2.2% TRANSPORTATION 25.3% ELECTRICITY 29.7% OTHER SOURCES 40.9%

Grain-finished beef cattle provide 19% more human-edible protein than they consume.
Whether grass- or grain-finished, most of what cattle eat in their life is grass, and less than 10% of the lifetime feed of grain-finished cattle is grain.

Corn fed to cattle
2% of U.S. cropland acres
0.3% of total U.S. land area

Grass-fed
Lifetime Diet for Grain-Finished Cattle
90% FORAGE & PLANT LEFTOVERS
10% grain

1 lb of feed protein equals 1.19 lbs of beef protein

Beef cattle eat 7-9% of U.S. corn production which covers approximately 6.5 million acres
91% of beef farms & ranches are family owned
33% of all beef farms & ranches own beef cattle

Compared to 1977, today’s beef farmers and ranchers produce the same amount of beef with 33% fewer cattle.

How’d they do it?
Better Animal Health & Welfare
Better Animal Nutrition
Better Animal Genetics

Improved efficiency and animal well-being mean a 16% lower carbon footprint and fewer natural resources used for every pound of beef produced.

Typical U.S. Cattle Lifecycle
Cow-calf diet duration 6 – 10 Months
Grass
Other Humaninedible
Plants

Stocker/backgrounder Diet duration 2 – 6 Months
Mostly Grass
Other Humaninedible
Plants

Finishing Diet duration 4 – 6 Mos. Grain – Or – 6 – 10 Mos. Grass
Grain
Other Humaninedible
Plants