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Question: Do “cow farts” really contribute to global warming?

cow

While it makes for endless dad jokes, it’s a myth that cow farts cause global warming.

Cows actually burp out methane as their complex ruminant digestive systems break down plant materials, explains Dr. Sara Place, an animal scientist with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Critics often cite global averages to suggest that cattle are one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gas. Yet those figures don’t tell the whole story, Place says.

Research shows that removing all livestock and poultry from the U.S. alone would only reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 0.36 percent.

Specifically, cattle farming in the United States is the most environmentally friendly and sustainable in the world, she says.

In the last 40 years, the U.S. cattle herd has shrunk by one-third, yet U.S. farmers are producing more beef today than they did in the 1970s, Place notes.

U.S. farmers are adopting improved tools and methods to help make cattle farming more effective, efficient and environmentally friendly.

Cattle farmers have also invested their own dollars in decades-worth of research into sustainable livestock farming, Place notes. They are sharing new ideas and innovations with each other. When farmers use their resources effectively, everyone wins.

“Beef is an incredibly nutritious food. It’s a tasty food, and it’s a sustainably produced food,” Place says. “You can feel confident in your food choices, that it’s responsibly raised and the care that goes into (raising beef for) your plate is serious.”

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