BY TOM DEWEESE
The American beef industry has long been a tasty target of the environmentalists and their allies in the animal rights movement. To understand the reason is to know that protecting the environment is not the goal, rather the excuse in a determined drive for global power. Their selected tactic is to control the land, water, energy, and population of the Earth. To achieve these ends requires, among other things, the destruction of private property rights and elimination of every individual’s ability to make personal lifestyle choices, including personal diet.
Of course, no totalitarian-bound movement would ever put their purpose in such direct terms. That’s where the environmental protection excuse comes in. Instead, American cattle producers are simply assured that no one wants to harm their industry, just make it safer for the environment. The gun industry might recognize that such assurance sounds a bit familiar. Same source, same tactics, same goals.
So the offered solution to “fix” the beef industry is “sustainable certification”. All the cattle growers have to do, they are assured, is follow a few simple rules and all will be fine, peaceful and profitable. Enter the players: the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), and the U.S, Department of Agriculture.
First, let’s reveal the Sustainablists’ stated problems with the beef industry. What’s not sustainable about raising beef? According to the environmental “experts”, there are ten reasons why the meat industry does not meet sustainable standards:
- Deforestation – the claim is that farm animals require considerably more land than crops to produce food. The World Hunger Program calculated that if the land was used to grow grain and soy instead of cattle the land could provide a vegan diet to 6 billion people. Do you get that – a vegan diet! The fact is, most grazing land in the U.S. cannot be used for growing food crops because the soil wouldn’t sustain crops.
- Fresh Water – they claim that the America diet requires 4,200 gallons of water per day, including animal drinking water, irrigation of crops, processing, washing, etc. Whereas a vegan diet only requires 300 gallons per day. Apparently they don’t plan to irrigate the land to grow wheat or to wash the vegetables.
- Waste Disposal – factory farms house hundreds of thousands of animals that produce waste. They claim these giant livestock farms produce more than 130 times the amount of waste humans do. The interesting thing about this detail is that the actual sustainable policies they are enforcing to fix this problem destroy the small family farms in favor of the very giant corporate factory farms they profess to oppose. In addition, those global corporations which join the Green cabal have the ability to ignore many of the “sustainable” restrictions, unlike the small, family farms that are much better at protecting the environment on their own.
- Energy Consumption – For the steak to end up on your plate, say the Greens, the cow has to consume massive amounts of energy along the way as the cattle are transported thousands of miles to slaughter, market, and refrigerate. And let’s not forget, the meat must then be cooked! Well this transportation argument is a direct result of the existence of a limited few packing companies in cahoots with the Green Lords that dictate the market as they work against a more decentralized, local industry. Meanwhile, last time I checked, Tofurkey – made from soy — also has to be cooked!
- Food Productivity – say the Greens, food productivity of farmland is falling behind the population and the only option, besides cutting the population, is to cut back on meat consumption and convert grazing lands to food crops. As noted in point 1, most grazing land cannot be converted. Everything dealing with the sustainable argument is based on some unseen crisis. Yet we do not have a world-wide food shortage or pending famine. In fact, the media is persistently reporting “price-depressing crop surpluses.” The only places where such shortages may exist are in totalitarian societies where government is controlling food production and supplies – kind of like the Green’s plan for sustainable beef.
- Global Warming – here we go! Say the Greens, global warming is driven by energy consumption and cows are energy guzzlers. But there’s more to the story. Cow flatulence! A single dairy cow, they claim, produces an average of 75 kilos of methane annually. Meanwhile, environmentalists want to return the rangelands to historic species, including buffalo. And a buffalo, grazing on the same grass on the same lands would emit about the same amount of methane. It’s a non-issue.
- Loss of Biodiversity – What are some of the examples the Greens give for loss of biodiversity? Poaching and black market sale of bushmeat including everything from elephants and chimpanzees to birds??? Please explain what this has to do with the American cattle industry – other than a pure hatred of anyone who eats meat of any kind. And that, of course, is the argument from the animal rights/vegan wing of the Green movement that is leading the assault on cattle.
- Grassland Destruction – apparently this is based on the Green premise that domesticated animals like cows replaced bison and antelope, which, in turn, caused a loss of biodiversity of species. I’ve got two pieces of news for you. First, the Native Americans so revered by the Greens, hunted bison before the white man arrived. Take a trip to Bozeman, Montana and see the cliff where they used to run entire herds to their death, not just selectively choosing a few to eat. Second, the Greens, not the cattle ranchers, forced the reintroduction of wolves, and that has caused a near annihilation of the antelope and elk herds.
- Soil Erosion – the Greens claim that U.S. pastureland is overgrazed, causing soil erosion. In truth, a great many of today’s cattlemen are third and fourth generation on their land. Those ranches could not have existed for over a hundred years if they were so careless in taking care of the land. It is vital to their survival to assure the land stays in good shape. Of course, an environmentalist who has never worked a ranch or farm and rarely comes out of his New York high-rise might not know that.
- Lifestyle Disease – this is my favorite of the reasons why beef is supposedly unsustainable. In short, it’s because of stupid people! This one is blamed on “excessive” consumption of meat, combined with environmental pollution and “lack of exercise” leading to strokes, cancer, diabetes and heart attacks. So it’s the beef industries fault that people eat too much and refuse to exercise. The solution – ban meat consumption. Yet, doctors are now realizing that meat eating is not the problem, carbs are.
So, these are the ten main reasons why it’s charged that beef is unsustainable and must be ruled, regulated and frankly, eliminated. These are charges brought by anti-beef vegans who want all beef consumption stopped. In cahoots, are global Sustainablists who seek to stop the private ownership and use of land, all hiding under the blanket excuse of environmental protection.
To bring the cattle industry into line with this world view the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has accepted the imposition of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which is heavily influenced, if not controlled, by the World Wildlife Fund, one of the top three most powerful environmental organizations in the world and a leader in the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), which basically sets the rules for global environmental policy. This is the same World Wildlife Fund that issued a report saying, “Meat consumption is devastating some of the world’s most valuable and vulnerable regions, due to the vast amount of land needed to produce animal feed.” The report went on to say that, to save the Earth, it was vital that we change human consumption habits away from meat. As pointed out earlier, the fact is most land used for grazing isn’t capable of growing crops for food. Further, to have the WWF involved in any part of the beef industry is simply suicidal.
It’s interesting to note that the “Principles for Sustainable Beef Farming,” issued for the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef by the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Working Group (SAI), follow the exact guidelines originally presented in the United Nations’ Agenda 21/ Sustainable Development blueprint. Agenda 21 divided these into three categories including, Social Equity, Economic Prosperity and Ecological Integrity. Using almost identical terms, the SAI plan for Sustainable Beef uses the following headings for each section of its plan: Economic Sustainability, Social Sustainability, and Environmental Sustainability.
Under Social Sustainability are such items as Human Rights, Worker Environment, Business Integrity, and Worker Competence (that means that workers are required to have the proper, acceptable sustainable attitudes and beliefs). Under the heading Environmental Sustainability are Climate Change, Waste, and Biodiversity, for the reasons already discussed.
Regulations using these principles impose a political agenda that ignores the fact that smaller, independent cattle growers have proven to be the best stewards of their own land and that for decades have produced the highest grade of beef product in the world. Instead, to continue to produce they will be required to submit to centralized control by regulations that will never end and will always increase in costs and needless waste of manpower.
To follow the sustainable rules and be officially certified, the cattle growers must agree to have much of the use of their land reduced to provide for wildlife habitat. There are strict controls over water use and grazing areas. This forces the growers to have smaller herds, making the process more expensive and economically unviable for the industry. In addition, there is a new layer of industry and government inspectors, creating a massive bureaucratic overreach, causing yet more costs for the growers.
The Roundtable rules are now enforced through the packing companies. You see, the cattlemen actually have no direct market. Instead, they first bring their product to feedlots for final preparation. The feedlots then sell the cattle to the packers. The packers are the ones who then have direct contact with stores, restaurants and other entities that actually buy the beef. The packers are a major force in the Roundtable, working side by side with the WWF, and so dictate the rules to the feedlots to comply with sustainable certification for the cattle they will buy from the growers. If the beef they obtain isn’t grown according to the sustainable beef principles then the packers refuse to buy it. That has quickly put smaller feedlots out of business. Consequently, it also destroys the cattle growers who rely on the feedlots to take their product.
There are only four main packing companies in the United States. These are Cargill, Tysons, JBS and Marfrig. These packers have already successfully taken control of the hog and poultry industries. Tysons is now raising its chickens in China to ship here. JBS and Marfrig are both from Brazil. It’s interesting to note that one of their first tactics was to remove the country of origin labeling from the packaging so that consumers have no idea where their product is coming from. So as the packers force their expensive, unnecessary, and unworkable sustainable certification on American cattlemen, they are systematically bringing in cheaper product from other countries that don’t necessarily adhere to strict, sanitary, safe production American producers are known for. As a result, there is a noticeable rise in news reports of recalls of diseased chicken and beef in American grocery stores.
Some cattle growers have tried to fight back by creating new packing companies to compete and provide an honest market. However, the costs to do so are huge, as high as $50 million. One such company called Northern Beef Packers was formed, using all the latest state of the art, high-grade processing. The four established packers reacted by drastically reducing their prices to the grocers, thereby destroying any hope of establishing a market for the new packing company.
This then is the situation that is threatening the American beef industry. If one reads the documents and statements from the World Wildlife Fund, the United Nations Environment Program and others involved, it is not hard to realize that the true goal is not to produce a better grade of beef, but to ban it altogether. The question must then be asked, why is the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association allowing this to happen, and indeed, is joining with the Sustainable Beef Roundtable to force these policies on their members?
The answer is actually quite tragic. American ranchers, farmers and livestock growers have been targets of the environmental and animal rights movements for years. They are beaten down. Like the rest of us they just want to be left alone to work their farms and herds like their forefathers have done for more than a century. But the pressure is growing day by day. So, they have come to believe that if they just go along – put the sustainable label on their product — then this pressure will stop. In short, they see it as a pressure valve.
The reality is it’s not going to go away because the goal is not environmental protection, rather the destruction of their industry and control through what the UN calls the reorganization of human society. The attack has now grown to major proportions with the Green New Deal. Beef eaters have no place in the sustainable paradise of city apartment dwellers who accept government controls to choose for them what they are permitted to eat.
There are efforts to fight back. A group of cattlemen has organized under the banner of R-CALF (Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund) and they have managed to slow the Sustainable capture of the industry. But the packers’ control of the industry is a major roadblock if the cattlemen can’t reach their market. R-CALF has filed Abuse of Conduct suits to shed light on the anti-trust activities of the monopoly tactics of the packers.
However, the beef industry cannot recover on its own. There must be outrage from the consumers who are facing higher prices, possible inferior meat, and the danger of disease because of this sustainable tyranny. If you want the right to your own food choices instead of the dictatorship of radical Greens, then get mad. Demand that “Country of Origin” labels be put on all beef products so you know where your food comes from. Demand that the Department of Agriculture rejects this sustainable myth and protects the American free market that has always provided superior products.
The so-called sustainable policy is not a free market. It is a government-sanctioned monopoly that is just short of a criminal enterprise. Stand with American farmers and cattlemen. If Americans don’t fight back now we will lose the freedom to our own dinner plates in the name of sustainable lies.
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, Tom DeWeese, is the President of theAmerican Policy Center.