Beef Buzz News
Faculty Member Targets Beef Sustainability in Research, Teaching at OSU
Thu, 03 Oct 2013 12:49:22 CDT
Sara Place talks with Ron Hays about her research in beef sustainability at OSU.
Sara Place is one of the newer faculty members at Oklahoma State University. She is an assistant professor of animal science and is an expert in beef sustainability. Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays talked with her recently about her research.
"My position is in sustainable beef cattle systems, so I have a teaching and research appointment here at Oklahoma State University. I've been here since February.
"In terms of what I hope to contribute and research is framing the questions and the discussion about what is animal agriculture's environmental impact, making sure that we focus on how we contribute to the economy and how we contribute to feeding the world and feeding Oklahomans and feeding the United States."
Sustainability is a buzzword used more and more often these days and it can be misused as well.
"The word, in general, is really multifaceted. It is something that different people have many definitions for," Place says.
"For me, it really comes down to the economics, the environmental impacts and the social issues all surrounding sustainability. For an individual producer in Oklahoma, first of all you have to be able to stay in business-that long-term business viability. You have to be able to pass your business on to the next generation, be it family or otherwise. You have to have responsibility to your community and to your animals as well as thinking about your environmental impact.
"So, a lot of those things are items that are already on the agenda for the majority of producers. They are thinking about the long term. In terms of agriculture in general, we're an industry that's thinking about the long-term. So, a lot of those items come back to sustainability even though they haven't been defined as such in the past."
Place says she is a disciple of the research of Dr. Frank Mitloehner of the University of California at Davis. She says the research is showing there is a good story to tell about the beef industry when it comes to its impact on the environment.
"Sustainability really is about how we're going to feed the world in the future. And we have been doing a great job and getting better in the United States, both just broadly for animal agriculture and the beef industry. So, we've reduce our carbon footprint in the United States since the 70s and we're only about 3.4 percent, in terms of livestock agriculture in general, of the CO2 equivalent emissions in the United States. So that is a positive story to tell."
Place says she believes one of the things producers can do to improve sustainability is learn how to tell the story about how well the agriculture industry in the U.S. is doing in the realm of sustainably in providing the food and fiber the world needs. She says animal agriculture can be particularly proud of the progress that it's made.
"We're not perfect, but you can continue to get better. And that, hopefully, through research and extending that knowledge, we can continue to improve and have that long-term goal of 'Hey, we're all in this together and we're trying to feed the world and trying to do right by the planet, do right by our animals and community.' And that's the positive story to tell."
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