158. Cows aren’t the enemy & Let’s reward those doing the job!

This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 4th of March 2019.

Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
We begin this week with a piece from Business Insider entitled: Cows are getting a bad rap and it’s time to set the record straight: Giving up meat won’t save the planet by Frank M. Mitloehner.
Quote:
As the scale and impacts of climate change become increasingly alarming, meat is a popular target for action. Advocates urge the public to eat less meat to save the environment. Some activists have called for taxing meat to reduce consumption of it.
A key claim underlying these arguments holds that globally, meat production generates more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. However, this claim is demonstrably wrong, as I will show. And its persistence has led to false assumptions about the linkage between meat and climate change.
End Quote.
I’ve been suggesting for years that this part of the nonsense spread by the like of George Monbiot and others who really have no understanding of agriculture other than the CAFOs discussed in the previous episode. It gets worse, as we’ll see in an upcoming quote. The question I have and which I apply to all these sorts of conundra is: Who benefits?
Clearly ending animal agriculture is a vegan agenda. The Facebook page, Irish Generative Land Trust shared a pic from Vegan Australia. Pic in the show notes. But I will quote:
You may have heard the term ‘regenerative grazing’ which has appeared in the media lately.It’s (sic) promotion may indicate the animal agriculture industry has increased its PR efforts in response to extensive criticism of the sector’s devastating environmental record.
End Quote.
The extensive use of pesticides, herbicides and the clearing of the Amazon for soybean agriculture to build tofu is apparently ok but I digress.
I think we can agree the CAFO system is an environmental disaster but going vegan isn’t the answer. Another point from this quote is the use of the term animal agriculture. This Henry Ford industrial approach to agriculture is where the current situation arose. Separating animals from plants in the production process has led to things taken to their logical conclusion with individuals describing themselves as hog farmers, wool producers and so on. While these things may be the main economic stream in an enterprise, the really good ones have an integrated mix of plant and animal production systems. Indeed I would argue they can’t actually be seperated but are parts of a whole system. I would refer you to John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self Sufficiency. In particular his intro section on the webs of nature and their replication in an agricultural setting. They were seminal in my understanding as a 16 year old.
Back to the original piece.
Quote:
A healthy portion of meat’s bad rap centers on the assertion that livestock is the largest source of greenhouse gases worldwide. For example, a 2009 analysis published by the Washington, DC-based Worldwatch Institute asserted that 51% of global GHG emissions come from rearing and processing livestock.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the largest sources of US GHG emissions in 2016 were electricity production (28% of total emissions), transportation (28%) and industry (22%). All of agriculture accounted for a total of 9%. All of animal agriculture contributes less than half of this amount, representing 3.9% of total US greenhouse gas emissions.
That’s very different from claiming livestock represents as much or more than transportation.
End Quote.
Again, who benefits? I’m not sure exactly but not the planet nor the people living on nor the biosphere.
In the same way one published article has led to antibiotics being routinely added to CAFO feeds yet the results have never been replicated so too do we have the meat equals GHGs “belief”.
Further from the article,
Quote:
I pointed out this flaw during a speech to fellow scientists in San Francisco on March 22, 2010, which led to a flood of media coverage. To its credit, the FAO immediately owned up to its error. Unfortunately, the agency’s initial claim that livestock was responsible for the lion’s share of world greenhouse gas emissions had already received wide coverage.
To this day, we struggle to “unring” the bell.
End Quote
Indeed it is very difficult to unring a bell. Paradigms can be shifted but it takes more than evidence, it would appear.
As the effects of climate change start to impact in more obvious ways, the future becomes a matter for more thoughtful discussion. From the piece: The future of farming in the era of climate change written By Micaela Hambrett of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Quote:

It has sparked concern among people like Nigel Gibson, who like many others have increasingly taken steps in their own suburban lives to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
But recent weather events have left Mr Gibson wondering if enough was being done for agricultural communities on a broader scale.
“Will farmers need to move or can they transition to other opportunities?” he asked ABC Central West NSW’s Curious project.
“I feel this is something no-one is talking about.”
End Quote.
There is some discussion going on around this subject but nowhere near enough. We need to look at a little history. The conservative side of politics in Australia has swallowed the Kool-Aid on the idea of laissez faire economics, as it is applied to agriculture. This does not extend to mining companies who can contribute to party finances but that’s another episode. Combine this with the notion that “the bush” votes to the right of centre and the major left of centre party, the Labor Party can see no need to support farmers except in times of emergency. This is a bipartisan position. No subsidies, money after floods, fires and during droughts.  Subsidies do though extend to solar panel installation and include feedback tariffs above and beyond wholesale prices. So payments to encourage behaviour change are a thing.
Farming in the face of climate change adds another variable to the challenges of growing food. The lunacy of ignoring the agricultural sector until the ship hits the sand is almost beyond belief. There are reasons though. By not subsidising agriculture we can point to the US and the EU and say they are creating an uneven playing field. The US and the EU don’t care.
So given that the laissez faire approach to one sector of the economy, agriculture, doesn’t make any logical sense and that the Australian governments, State and Commonwealth, while not happy to do so, realise the political dangers of not providing support after natural disasters, a slight change in emphasis, could have the same funds poured into regenerative agricultural education. The same system which created rust free wheat varieties, developed Packham pears and defeated the Prickly Pear infestation could be used as it is trusted by those on the ground. They would have to admit their errors with regard to chemical based food production and explain why there is a need to more to regenerative agriculture but they are best placed to do so.
At present, one farmer per district seems to be the limit. No one wants to be the person who does things differently in case it fails. This is especially so if they are under debt pressures. Once that one farmer does succeed then for others to change would mean admitting they were wrong. Even in the depths of drought where the regenerative farms are green to their boundary fences and there’s dust on the other side, people are resistant to change.
So the CSIRO, the ag colleges, the rural science departments, the horticulture schools and the ag course in high school can make the difference. If we toss in some funding to cover the transition period, call it land management payments rather than agricultural subsidy and I think we have a model that would work. In the US and the EU and other places where subsidies already exist, tweaking the system to fund regenerative but not factory farming models in say a three to five year transition period and we would be sucking carbon out of the air, putting it in the soil and repairing our food webs and the wild ones too.
My thinking would be to pull funding from organic farms which simply follow the chemical industrial model but don’t use chemicals. I’ve seen registered enterprises using mini flamethrowers against weeds and as a consequence, the soil and the life below it. I know, it is almost unbelievable but there you go.
So, cows aren’t destroying the atmosphere, we can get carbon back in the soil and do it through the people who are at the coal face, lol, and experiencing the effects of climate change directly. They have the local knowledge, they have the financial incentives and we need this to happen.
And on that note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion.
Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
The podcasting checklists are still available over at Jon Moore Podcasting Services
Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.
LINKS
PODCASTING CHECKLISTS CLICK HERE
Facebook Page:  World Organic News Facebook page.
WORLD ORGANIC NEWS No Dig Gardening Book: Click here
Permaculture Plus
http://permacultureplus.com.au/
Topical Talks
 
Cows are getting a bad rap and it’s time to set the record straight: Giving up meat won’t save the planet
https://www.businessinsider.com/giving-up-meat-wont-save-planet-2018-10/?fbclid=IwAR1dsMaobbUxw4HUWyubcdshaxUihjEMX1tQ19X-LEyTBwZLQbSJLi7RJsQ%3Futm_source%3Dtwitter&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=topbar&utm_term=mobile&referrer=twitter&_ga=2.35603937.1500839690.1550597502-857567176.1550597502&r=AU&IR=T
 
The future of farming in the era of climate change
https://amp.abc.net.au/article/10852926
John Seymour’s Complete Book of Self Sufficiency
Prickly Pear
 

157. The Horrors of CAFOs Plus GHGs ~ Regen ag fixes all that!

This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 25th of February 2019.

Jon Moore reporting!

Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Just a quick note to let you know one our neighbours is weaning calves at present and they are incredibly loud. If some of that seeps into the I do apologise in advance.
We begin this week with a piece entitled: How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming from Ecowatch.
Quote:
When you add it all up, the picture is clear—contemporary agriculture is burning up our planet. And factory farms or, in industry lingo, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), play a key role in this impending disaster.
End Quote
And then the piece talks about fossil fuel extraction and use, then:
Quoting Again:
Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs. These animals are literally imprisoned and tortured in unhealthy, unsanitary and unconscionably cruel conditions. Sickness is the norm for animals who are confined rather than pastured, and who eat GMO corn and soybeans, rather than grass and forage as nature intended. To prevent the inevitable spread of disease from stress, overcrowding and lack of vitamin D, animals are fed a steady diet of antibiotics. Those antibiotics pose a direct threat to the environment when they run off into our lakes, rivers, aquifers and drinking water.
End Quote.
The inhumanity of these setups is reason alone to shut them down. The antibiotic resistance they are creating is a time bomb waiting for a trigger. We have been incredibly lucky so far not to have a major outbreak of antibiotic resistant disease.
The groundwater contamination will take generations to repair. On the odd occasion the manure lakes in some of the less well regulated areas gives way and is as catastrophic as you would imagine. The arguments for these industrial units is the cheapness of the food. Having spent some time in the US last year and not being a cheese eater, or eater of any sauce for that matter, I actually tasted the meat, without adornment. It is the most bland meat I’ve ever eaten. As bland as any mass produced food, this shouldn’t be a surprise.
Now because of this and a huge cheese mountain back in the 1980s, the USFDA developed new ways for the food industry to add more cheese to its products. The industry and the consumers, it appears, leapt at this. The huge amounts of food containing cheese is mind boggling.
I can eat all dairy products except cheese. It leads to stomach cramps and other unpleasantness. It is for this reason I can assure you there is cheese in so many processed foods. The answer, of course, is whole foods and grow our own but that’s a different episode.
The point I’m making, eventually, is that the cheapness of the food is offset by the use of excessive flavourings linked to heart disease, obesity and so on. The true cost of feedlot beef is way beyond the price in the supermarket. But healthcare is not included in the price of the meat. So we have at least one hidden cost.
There are even more troubling issues.
Quote:
CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the U.S. is dirtier than in America’s most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth’s atmosphere than CO2.
End Quote.
Toss in the transport of feed in and cattle out and the climate change impact grows further.
The numbers quoted are mind bogglingly worrying. All because it’s “cheaper” to treat animals inhumanely for profit. The argument for CAFOs is that animals “waste” energy walking around to find feed. If they just stood still all the feed would be converted into two things: 1) keeping them alive and 2) growing meat quickly. As I mentioned above, one of the side effects of this is bland, flavourless meat. To me this convert walking energy into meat production seems a fallacy. We aren’t working with machines but living beasts. This way is not sustainable, ethically, environmentally or when the legal action kicks in, financially.
But I hear you ask: Is there a system that could replace feedlots? I’m so glad you asked.
From the site, Matter of Trust.org,
Quote:
The really good news is that we have already found a solution that addresses virtually all of these problems.
It doesn’t matter if you believe climate change is an issue worth your consideration or not. It doesn’t matter whether you believe water shortages are a pressing concern, or whether you care about preserving our butterfly, bee, or fish populations.
Even if you care about just one of these many issues and pooh-pooh all the rest, your time, money, and effort is best spent by supporting regenerative farming.
The reason for this is because regenerative farming helps rebuild and optimize soil quality, and the benefits to air, water, ecosystem, food, animal welfare and human health are downstream results of this optimization.
End Quote.
And that’s from a piece entitled: Regenerative Farming — One Solution That Solves Many Problems.
And this is the sort of thing we need to focus on. One change with huge downstream benefits. So rather making people use thicker plastic bags rather than single use bags both made from petrochemicals, rejig the plastic manufacturing so the inputs are cellulose based rather than fossil fuels. That way the bags break down and return nutrients to the soil and so on. Rather than blaming individual consumers for not changing the world, let’s apply pressure on the root causes of these problems.
CAFOs replaced with regen ag, electric vehicles replacing petrol/diesel ones and hemp based paper instead of pine pulp just to kick off a few ideas.
We can do this, we need to do this. Those twelve years to take action we were told about back in October 2018, well we are now down to eleven years, seven months and the clock is ticking.
[Insert clock ticking here.]
Let’s get this sorted people. This is beyond left and right of politics, this is universal. If you have an election where you live in the next little while, raise the issue, give ‘em hell, make things change! We can, we must, do this. Probably yesterday but today and tomorrow and the day after that. We can do this.
And on that note I’ll draw this episode to a conclusion.
Remember: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
The podcasting checklists are still available over at Jon Moore Podcasting Services
Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.

~~~~

LINKS
PODCASTING CHECKLISTS CLICK HERE
Facebook Page:  World Organic News Facebook page.
WORLD ORGANIC NEWS No Dig Gardening Book: Click here
Permaculture Plus
http://permacultureplus.com.au/
Topical Talks
How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming
https://www.ecowatch.com/how-factory-farming-contributes-to-global-warming-1881690535.html
Regenerative Farming — One Solution That Solves Many Problems
https://matteroftrust.org/14409/regenerative-farming-one-solution-that-solves-many-problems