Canadian cattle: Their role in caring for a sustainable Earth

    CALGARY, April 21 /CNW/ - When it comes to the environment, according to
cattle producers - Canadian cattle have a bum rap. Contrary to reports,
Canadian livestock make only a minor contribution to Canada's greenhouse gas
(GHG) emissions and energy use. Actually, cattle play an essential role in
sustainable agriculture.
    Canadian cattle utilize natural resources very efficiently and cattle
producers continuously look for ways to increase that efficiency. Good
management of Canada's approximate 21 million hectares of pastureland is one
of those ways. Not only do pastures support food production, but they provide
wildlife habitat and serve an important role in GHG reductions. In some cases
pastureland stores carbon more efficiently than trees.
    Pastures can exist where our food crops can't - on land that is too steep
or cold or inaccessible to farm machinery. Pasture grasses play a significant
role in feeding us. In Canada, since nearly one third of Canada's agricultural
land is unsuitable for crop production, utilizing it as pasture to raise
cattle enables this land to still contribute to food production.
    More environmentally friendly than most other forms of producing food,
properly managed cattle pasture lands control erosion and enrich the soil.
Planted grasses are often used to rehabilitate soils where crops have grown.
It is precisely because of these benefits and more that cattle play such a
pivotal role in our food supply. Without cattle those lands would not
contribute to our food supply.
    For nearly 20 years, producers worked hard to reduce the environmental
footprint of Canadian agriculture by implementing best management practices to
improve efficiency and reduce environmental impact. These practices include
improving the diets of farm animals, selectively breeding for animals which
use their diets more efficiently and improving animal health - all factors
that contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions. Better management practices
have lowered the number of cattle required to produce the high-quality protein
consumers require. In addition, as stewards of the land, many producers adopt
environmental farm plans tailored to their specific operations to enhance the
environmental sustainability of their operations.
    Meanwhile the investments made in new technologies and agricultural
research will certainly yield an even more sustainable future with cattle.
They play a significant part in the burgeoning biogas industry; making it
possible to turn manure, already a valuable soil amendment, into a renewable
source of energy.
    When it comes to environmentally-sustainable food production, let's
reflect on the contributions the lowly Canadian cow makes to the environment
and feeding the world. To learn more about cattle and the environment see the
attached backgrounder or visit Find out how Canada's cattle
producers are true stewards of our environment.

    Canadian Cattlemen's Association
    Fact sheet

    Cattle producers - part of the environmental solution

    Canada's beef and cattle producers make a valuable contribution to
Canada's economy and environment. Their good management practices maintain
wildlife habitat and contribute to reducing greenhouse gases (GHG). They are
committed to ensuring their practices prove beneficial to the environment,
their animals and operations, plus the consumer.

    Sustaining Canada's agricultural land

    -   Canada's cattle producers manage 167 million acres of native grasses
        for livestock and wildlife - comprising about a quarter of Canada's
        total agricultural land.

    -   These native and tame grasses play an important role in sequestering
        carbon in the soil, filtering water, providing habitat for wildlife
        and birds and providing high-quality feed for cattle.

    -   Producers annually convert additional cultivated crop land to tame

    Building and maintaining native grasses

    -   Native grasses make a significant contribution to feeding practices
        that reduce methane output from cattle.

    -   Science has proved that moving cattle from pasture-to-pasture,
        maintains the healthy, lush green grasses which provide easy-to-
        digest feed for cattle.

    -   An easy-to-digest cattle feed promotes good weight gain and reduces
        methane production.

    -   With more than 90 per cent of Canada's beef cattle production
        pasture-based, the added bonus to these planned grazing practices is
        the flourishing wildlife habitat it creates.

    Eat meat and sustain the environment

    -   Eating less meat will not save the environment. In fact, it may
        contribute to more demands on it.

    -   Consuming less meat protein means that to maintain a healthy diet,
        people must consume more vegetable-based protein. Producing that
        requires the cultivation of more land, which increases use of fossil
        fuels and fertilizer application. Unfortunately valuable wildlife
        habitat is lost in the process.

    Working together - cattle producers, scientists and government

    -   Helping producers to implement optimal management practices is a
        constantly evolving process driven by scientific research and

    -   Agricultural research scientists work closely with Canadian cattle
        producers to further increase understanding of the digestive process,
        and continuously make improvements to grazing management practices.

    -   To foster the evolution of scientific understanding and put new
        developments into commercial practice, it is imperative that industry
        and governments continue to work together.

    Reducing GHG emissions by using agricultural byproducts

    -   The industry leads in other effective ways to reduce GHG emissions
        such as innovative uses for agricultural byproducts.

    -   Manure processed in bio-digesters produces energy.

    -   Adding products to bio-digesters, including unmarketable crops and
        other organic byproducts, such as lawn clippings, provides solutions
        to rural and urban issues.

    -   More government support for these types of renewable energy solutions
        creates a sustainable development win for all partners.

    Reducing GHG emissions around the world

    -   Today, the largest opportunity for reducing agricultural GHG
        emissions exists outside Canada in developing countries.

    -   Improving their poor-quality feeding practices could significantly
        benefit the environment and their people.

    -   This requires investing in the future of their agricultural sectors
        to improve access to education and technology.

    -   Equipping these producers with the knowledge and tools to adopt good
        management practices will effectively reduce emissions and increase
        production to provide much-needed, nutrient-rich food for their
        hungry people.

    Learn more about Canada's cattle and beef industry, and the environment at

For further information:

For further information: Natalie Arnieri, Communications Coordinator,
(403) 275-8558 x 410,

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