By Will Verboven, Contributing Editor
I expect most North American cattle producers in the back of their minds knew that, sooner or later, their industry would become a target for the nefarious climate change avengers. One only has to note the recent COP26 climate change circus where 25,000 mostly delusional urban folks predicted the end of the world if only we followed their noble and self-righteous proclamations.
As expected, the cost for all that climate salvation advice is to be borne by folks other than those at the COP26 blather fest. It may not have been the most obvious world villain of the climate change industry convention in Glasgow – that was the evil energy and coal business – but it was in the top 10 of the climate change rogues gallery: commercial animal agriculture.
I am sure no one is fooled by what that actually refers to – it’s clearly directed at commercial cattle producers in the big beef export countries. It’s all because cattle produce greenhouse gases (GHG), particularly methane, in their digestive process. By crafty statistical extrapolation and presumption of cattle numbers, one could paint beef production as one of the leaders of the stampede to the global climate apocalypse.
Greenpeace, that international corporate manipulator and profiteer of green ideology, states as one of its extremist manifestoes that animal agriculture produces more GHG emissions than all global emissions from all transportation sources. Even for Greenpeace, well known for its delusional pronouncements, that claim is over the top. But that doesn’t matter because this devious organization knows from experience that many governments, the urban media and millions of gullible people will believe such outlandish claims. But there is more to the story.
Livestock producers are aware that cattle produce GHGs, and I would expect that research and statistics would indicate that, although they may contribute to climate change, their contribution is modest. But what makes them an attractive target is that there are so few commercial producers on a global basis, and most are conveniently located in North America and Australia.
The anti-animal agriculture crowd does differentiate between commercial and subsistence livestock producers. The latter are presumed to be part of the world peasant movement (see Via Campesina – it even has American and Canadian members). They see themselves as climate change allies in the struggle against evil capitalist corporations that caused the climate crisis in the first place.
As expected, animal science and nutrition researchers have gotten on the climate change bandwagon (and to access lucrative government grants) and are researching various ways and means to reduce bovine GHGs, particularly methane. There are promising results, mainly through altering diets or adding supplements. However, the most significant advancement in reducing cattle GHGs is thanks to the cattle feeding industry. Most folks are unaware that research has proven cattle raised in feedlots produce the lowest carbon footprint than other production methods.
Extremist green groups have been incrementally successful in Europe in restricting beef cattle production by advocating for more regulations on manure management, animal production protocols and alleged health issues. Such constrictions reduce cattle numbers as it makes beef production much more costly. Death by a regulatory thousand cuts hasn’t quite reached North America, but it’s definitely on the horizon. Readers would be aware that Democrats in the U.S. Congress have already tried to restrict commercial animal agriculture through onerous pieces of proposed legislation. That will continue, I expect.
In Canada, an assault on the beef cattle industry has taken a considerable step in probability since the last federal election. That saw the progressive liberal administration of Prime Minister Trudeau returned, albeit with a popular vote of only 32 percent. The urban-based Trudeau Liberal government was already hostile to agriculture and western Canada, but that political perspective was made even worse when Trudeau appointed an avowed Greenpeace disciple and activist from the eastern province of Quebec as the new Canadian Minister of the Environment. Such biased zealots wear their green ideology like a religion.
Every resource industry in Canada is preparing to be confronted with new climate change regulations. Most assuredly, beef cattle production will be on the minister’s Greenpeace-inspired target list. It is just too easy a target – cattle producers don’t vote Liberal, and most are located in western Canada. Add into that the new minister is a vegetarian, so demonizing and constricting the cattle industry will be all the more easy for him to instigate.
One might suggest that these predictions are somewhat conspiratorial – well, not in Canada. Our federal liberal government, under pressure from extremist green lobby groups (like Greenpeace) and political opportunism with West Coast urban voters, decided to terminate West Coast offshore open-net salmon farms. By 2025, that industry with its 7,000 jobs and $100 million business will be gone.
I expect any Canadian federal government action against cattle GHGs will be somewhat covert, that is, through ever more onerous regulations and carbon taxes that will make beef cattle production not just more expensive but exasperating, causing some producers to just give up. Every cattle producer organization in North America needs to be on high alert for this ominous development by conniving governments.
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