To The Editor:
These comments are in response to the letter “Eating Less Meat Would Lower Gas Prices.”
Throughout the country and on our farm as well, cows eat primarily a diet of grass that is grown on land not suited for crop production. It is land that is either too highly erodible for crop production or not fertile enough to sustain conventional crops. By proper grazing management the land gets more fertile and cattle, as well as wildlife, have a place to grow and maintain the natural beauty of the land with very little use of fossil fuels. The statement that “most foodstuffs are produced via petroleum-operated machinery” is inaccurate.
The cow-calf producers in this country do an excellent job of managing their pastureland through rotational grazing and stockpiling forages. In most cases the first 500-600 pounds that a calf grows are put on with very little fuel required. On our farm we apply little or no fertilizer to pasture ground. The only time we use fuel is to annually overseed clover and harrow and to mow the pasture once a year to help with weed management. After calves are weaned they are either grown on grass- or roughage-based diets until they reach 850-900 pounds. The only time they are converting grain to beef is in the last 100 days prior to slaughter.
When people want to start eating fescue and clover then I would have to agree that we beef producers are competing for food. The price of fuel has a whole lot more to do with our weak dollar and the other countries seeing our commodities (beef, pork, corn, soybeans, wheat) as a good buy and it has little to do with the U.S. farmers and ranchers who feed the world.
The solution to our country’s problems is much more complicated than to stop eating meat.