Why do we continue to attack the American farmer? The very people that feed us. Lately, it feels like every time I open my phone I see more and more articles about “going vegan to save the planet” or how “cow farts are causing climate change”. A great example is the Green New Deal proposed by Ocasio-Cortez. Are you serious?! I think there are some bigger fish to fry in this debate about climate change than cow farts.
The Effect on Nutrition
These reports and articles are fake news at best and click bait at worst. Here is the truth. I have said it before and I will say it again if Every.Single.American went vegan, we would only reduce our GHG emissions by 2.6%. This is a FACT. And the problems we would create would be endless. By eliminating animal agriculture or putting a tax on it as the Green New Deal suggests, we would increase hunger and poverty for millions of people across the globe. By removing animal protein, we would increase our nutrient deficiencies. Just what we need, more people lacking the essential nutrients and vitamins they need. Who would be affected the most? Low-income families that are already struggling with food insecurity.
Here’s an idea. Let’s stop attacking the food we eat and the farmers that grow it!! Agriculture makes up less than 9% of the total GHG and dairy is only about 2% of that. Instead, why don’t we start looking at the major factors contributing to GHG emissions that are not essential to living? Like transportation. Which makes up more than 28% of the total GHG. Or Industry that makes up 22% of the GHG emissions. If we cut these numbers in half, we could actually have an impact on climate change. Let’s encourage Americans to have a stay-cation once a year because every round trip flight across the country produces almost 1 metric ton of CO2 per person. Or let’s tax single-use plastic to reduce our environmental impact. But no, let’s focus instead on the food we need to live?!
Also, what no one talks about… The American farmer is doing more to prevent climate change than just about anyone else. And we are doing it voluntarily. No government mandates for us. American agriculture is the most efficient in the world! For dairy farms, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 63%, reduced water use by 65%, reduced land use by 90% since 1944. And we are on track to reduce these numbers by another 25% by 2020.
Why focus on eliminating animal agriculture? In my opinion, it comes down to two words: money and agendas. The transportation sector has an agenda to keep their GHG emissions out of the news and they have the money to do that. The energy and industry sectors are the same. An agenda and plenty of money to make that happen. But farmers? We will live in rural communities and spend most of our time on our farms. Yes, we have boards and marketing programs, but the resources to fund those organizations come from each and every farmer. Contrary to what you might have heard, 97% of all farms are family owned and operated. We do not have “big money” the way other sectors do. We are an easy target.
How do we change this? That’s my question to you. Agriculture is leading the way in technology and reducing GHG emissions. Animal agriculture here in the USA is more sustainable than ever. And animal welfare has never been better. We continue to find ways to improve the lives and health of our cows every day. How do we share that message? How do we combat the negative news and the reports that continue to spread misleading information and bash animal agriculture? How do we better share our truth?
New Mexico Milkmaid