TITLE: Why industrial production is not the solution to emissions from beef and dairy farms. AUTHOR: R. Mason. KEYWORDS: greenhouse gas emissions; environmental issues; cattle; dairy.

Rachel E. Mason, PhD.

doi: 10.15868/socialsector.36448
December 1, 2019

The full title of this Guidance Memo is: Cattle and the climate: Why industrial production is not the solution to emissions from beef and dairy farms.

It provides user-friendly explanation of basic concepts and terminology as well as summaries of current scientific thinking related to GHG emissions of different beef and dairy production systems around the world. The aim is to give those concerned about the negative impacts of industrial animal agriculture a clear understanding of these complex and confusing issues, and to supply them with a solid foundation on which to build their case against industrializing cattle production in low- and middle-income countries. For example, the report explains the difference between "intensification" and "industrialization", and why understanding the difference is critically important.

The report also provides key points that are useful in countering certain prevalent claims in favor of industrialization. (One such claim is that industrialization is essential in order to reduce GHG emission because non-industrial systems generate too much greenhouse gases and do not produce enough meat and dairy to meet global demands). For example, it points out that: Animals from smallholder systems – especially those in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) – often perform many more functions than cattle on industrial farms, and this complicates the way in which emissions are divided between ("allocated to") multiple products from a farm. And farms in LMICs that have low climate footprints already exist, and it is quite possible to bring more on board.


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