By Gary Sliworsky
Ag rep, Emo
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.
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.
Recognizing the significance to agriculture’s long-term sustainability, producers annually convert additional cultivated crop land to tame grasses.
These 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.
In turn it promotes good weight gain and reduces methane production.
With more than 90 percent of Canada’s beef cattle production pasture-based, the added bonus to these planned grazing practices is the flourishing wildlife habitat it creates.
The bottom line is that eating less meat will not save the environment. In fact, it may contribute to more demands on it.
Consuming less meat protein means to 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.
Unfortunately, valuable wildlife habitat is lost in the process.
Canada’s beef and cattle producers are committed to ensuring their practices prove beneficial to the environment, their animals and operations, plus the consumer. Helping producers to implement optimal management practices is a constantly-evolving process driven by scientific research and measurement.
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.
The industry leads in other effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas 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.
Today, the largest opportunity for reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions exists outside Canada, in developing countries. Improving their poor-quality feeding practices could significantly benefit the environment and their people.
However, 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 effectively will reduce emissions and increase production to provide much-needed, nutrient-rich food for their hungry people.
Learn more about Canada’s beef industry at www.cattle.ca
Dates to remember
•Oct. 14-15—Large animal clinic dates for Dr. Dan Matyasovszky (call 1-807-475-3837 to book an appointment); and
•Oct. 18—RRFA annual meeting and dinner, featuring Ryan Taylor’s Cowboy Logic, 6 p.m., Barwick Hall. Tickets cost $20 each (tickets for the show only, which starts at 8:30 p.m. cost $8 in advance and $10 at the door).