New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to slash meat consumption in schools and other city facilities is being slammed in a letter by Nebraska Farm Bureau. De Blasio’s Green New Deal, a wide-ranging initiative, includes reducing purchases of beef by 50 percent at all city-controlled facilities, including schools, prisons and hospitals.
“This ‘strategic initiative’ aimed at reducing the city’s contribution toward climate change ignores both climate and nutritional science, and only serves to further divide urban and rural populations. As the largest agricultural organization representing the second-largest beef producing state, we urge you to reconsider this initiative and help us tell the great story of beef sustainability,” Steve Nelson, Nebraska Farm Bureau president, said June 13.
New York City also plans to phase out all processed meat products purchased by city agencies. The agricultural sector, and beef in particular, has become the focus of attention by activists who want to highlight the impact eating meat has on global carbon emissions.
“Unfortunately, one of the most harmful and erroneous myths that exist in public discourse today is that U.S. beef production is destroying the planet. The truth, which is backed by peer-reviewed science, is that U.S. beef producers are producing far more beef with fewer inputs and contribute fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than what they are blamed for,” Nelson said.
According to a study recently published in the academic journal Agricultural Systems, beef cattle production only accounted for 3.3 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. By comparison, transportation and electricity generation together produced 56 percent. It is also important to note that when compared to 1977, today’s beef producers produce the same amount of beef with 33 percent fewer animals, Nelson wrote.
“This improved efficiency has reduced the industry’s carbon footprint by 16 percent and has reduced the industry’s consumption of both water and feed as well. Outside of the environmental factors, it should also be noted that today’s beef industry contributes to rangeland health, medical and pharmaceutical products/research, as well as being one of the most healthy and nutrient-rich food products available,” he stated.
Farmers and ranchers are the original environmentalists. Advancements made in U.S. plant and animal technology, genetics and nutrition have created the most efficient and environmentally friendly food system in the history of the world.
“Unfortunately, despite our success, many of those whose only connection to production agriculture involves three meals a day, seem to be the most vocal about what they perceive are the shortcomings in our industry. It is our hope you look beyond your own very large urban backyard and come visit the American farm and ranch families who devote their lives to producing food, fiber and fuel. We would be happy to host you in Nebraska at any time,” Nelson wrote.