Livestock feedlots more sustainable than organic cattle grazing, research shows

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[Editor’s note: Dan Blaustein-Rejto is a food and agriculture analyst at the Breakthrough Institute.]

A new report provides further evidence that cattle grazing, even when purportedly low-impact practices are used, might not be carbon-neutral or reduce net greenhouse gas emissions…This report adds to our understanding by calculating that at a global scale, grazing systems cannot sequester more carbon than is produced over the life of the cattle. What it doesn’t do, however, is consider how the environmental impacts of different production systems square up.

The new research, published by the Food Climate Research Network, finds that under the right conditions, best-practice cattle grazing can sequester more carbon in the soil than is emitted over the life cycle of the production system. But these cases are rare and cannot be scaled up across much of the world’s grazing land. This comes in stark contrast to the views of advocates like Allan Savory, who has claimed that so-called “carbon grazing” could sequester not only all the carbon emitted by livestock, but all the carbon emitted across all sectors of the economy.

Given wide differences in feedlots and grazing across countries, it’s almost inevitable that feedlots will be the climate-smart choice in some circumstances just as pasture will be in others.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Might Feedlots Be the Sustainable Option?

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