America’s Beef Producers Participate in Global Conference on Sustainable Beef

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Cattlemen Dedicated to Protecting Environment While Providing Food for Hungry World

Environmental sustainability is just as important to beef producers as it is to other conference attendees.

This week, America’s beef producers participated in the Global Conference on Sustainable Beef to advise attendees on the U.S. beef industry’s on-going commitment to environmental sustainability and investment of checkoff dollars in the science to document it.

“Environmental sustainability is just as important to beef producers as it is to other conference attendees,” says Steve Foglesong, a farmer/rancher from Illinois and president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. “In fact, 85 percent of farmers and ranchers say environmental conservation is important to their success. It is a key part of our ‘triple bottom line.’ Farming and ranching must be environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable to be sustainable.”

NCBA President-Elect Bill Donald shared his personal perspective with conference attendees. “When I first heard about the ‘triple bottom line’ I thought, ‘This is what my family has been doing for over a century raising cattle in Montana.’ We just didn’t have a fancy name for it.”

More with Less…
Today’s farmers and ranchers use fewer natural resources to provide a growing population with an affordable supply of great tasting, nutritious beef. Compared to 50 years ago, there are half as many farmers and ranchers today feeding a U.S. population that has more than doubled. The United States supplies 25 percent of the world’s beef with 10 percent of the world’s cattle, which reduces land, feed, water, fuel and other valuable resources needed to produce food for a growing world population. Efficiencies in U.S. food production also have contributed to food affordability. We spend a smaller percentage of our disposable income on food in this country than consumers anywhere else in the world.

Smart Production Practices…
Recent research and government data show beef contributes significantly to a healthy diet and minimally to total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States. Thanks to smart food production practices, the entire U.S. agriculture sector accounts for only six percent of our country’s GHG emissions. Animal agriculture accounts for less than half of that total.    Many experts agree U.S. livestock production practices are an environmentally sustainable solution for raising food and should be considered a model for the rest of the world.

Serving a Purpose…
Cattle serve a valuable role in the ecosystem by converting inedible forages into nutritious beef. More than 85 percent of the grazing land in the U.S. couldn’t otherwise be used to produce food, more than doubling the amount of land that can be used for food production in the U.S. The resulting product is a nutrient-rich source of protein that plays a key role in the human diet. Just one 3-ounce serving of beef is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients, including zinc, iron, protein and B vitamins. Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide, and beef provides the most readily available and easily absorbed source of iron.

Investing in Research…
The geography where cattle are raised, and the best practices applied to raising them, is as diverse as the more than 800,000 folks who run America’s cattle farms and ranches. Good science is essential to understanding what works based on geography, climate, natural resources and other factors. Farmer and rancher leaders in September committed checkoff dollars to starting the first phase of a lifecycle assessment project. Lifecycle assessment is a well-known and accepted method for collecting data that lay the foundation for setting and achieving environment goals.

Every beef farmer and rancher and every beef importer contributes to a fund called the beef checkoff, which is used to support research and education efforts related to environmental stewardship.

For more information on America’s beef producers’ commitment to environmental sustainability, visit


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Sara Goodwin
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