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Beef Buzz News

Colorado State University and American Hereford Association Working Together to Ensure Sustainable Food Supply

Tue, 19 Jul 2022 14:02:03 CDT

Colorado State University and American Hereford Association Working Together to Ensure Sustainable Food Supply Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, features comments from the Director of Colorado State University’s Ag Next research collaborative, Kim Stackhouse- Lawson, from a webinar, talking about the research collaborative established by CSU and the American Hereford Association that is aimed toward developing sustainable solutions for agriculture and providing value back to cattle producers.

Using genetic information gathered over the years to showcase the sustainability of the industry and improve cattle, the American Hereford Association plans to achieve traceable improvement in genetics to increase sustainability that will benefit cattle producers and consumers.

Lawson has been involved with the cattle industry much of her professional life and she says that there is a lot of pressure right now on U.S. cattle and beef regarding concerns about climate change and the level of greenhouse gas produced by the industry.

The partnership Lawson directs is focused on developing a story using the genetics of the sustainability of beef cattle, but more specifically, cattle with Hereford genetics.

“Sustainability is not a ‘nice to have’ anymore, it is a need to have,” Lawson said. “It is an expectation not only of our consumers but more importantly today, our financial partners.”

The expectation extends from the banking community, Lawson said, all the way to investors.

“The thing about sustainability is that it means a lot of things to a lot of different people and the definitions are quite variable, and yet society really cares,” Lawson said.

Lawson said society is asking a lot of questions about how they can improve sustainability. Everyone has a part of sustainability they are most concerned about, Lawson added, whether it is water, animal welfare, food safety, or equity.

“The pressure the beef industry is under the most comes from climate change and specific perceptions and reality related to greenhouse gas emissions from beef production systems,” Lawson said. “Some of the challenges that we need to focus on now are a reduction in absolute emissions.”

One of the goals the partnership plans to achieve, Lawson said, includes increasing feed efficiency by raising cattle that are capable of eating less and gaining more.

“What we really need to start to do is to select for or to work with other technologies to where they are actually eating less and gaining more,” Lawson said. “The amount of feed that they are ingesting is a true indicator of the amount of gas that they are going to be emitting.”

Improving sustainability, Lawson said, is the right thing to do for our consumers.

“We may not contribute a lot to greenhouse gas emissions, but I think in the last five years we all know that the climate is changing, and if man is contributing to that then I think we need to do our part,” Lawson said. “I think it is important to our financial partners. They are under an incredible amount of pressure from a lot of different governments, not in the U.S. but in other parts of the globe, to divest from animal agriculture because of its impact on climate.”

Although producers have been here for generations, Lawson said now is the time to prove that we can be here for more generations to come because we care.

“The proof points in today’s society are expected, whether that is fair or not, they are expected,” Lawson said. “If we get this right, and we can measure a reduction and you could get paid for it. We have seen big companies make commitments around zero goals and there will be an expectation that those companies make progress on those goals, and they are going to have to incentivize the adoption of practices that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

To watch the webinar, click here.

To read the American Hereford Association's release over cattle genetics and sustainability, click here.

Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Kim Stackhouse-Lawson on CSU and AHA’s partnership to prioritize sustainability in animal agriculture.

The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.



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