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Question: Is grass-fed beef better for the environment?

Feeding cattle

You may have heard that grass-fed beef is better for the environment than conventionally raised, grain-fed beef.

However, research shows that when cattle are fed corn or grain, their methane emissions decline, says Dr. Sara Place, senior director of sustainable beef production with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

So grain-fed cattle actually have a lower carbon footprint than grass-fed cattle, research finds.

Plus, a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study found that only 10 percent of U.S. corn acres go toward feeding beef cattle.

Cattle raised in the U.S. spend most of their lives eating grass, hay or forage on pastures, Place says. Cattle are often fed corn or grain in the last few weeks to reach market weight more quickly, which also helps reduce overall feed, land and water usage.

“If you want to eat grass-fed or grain-fed beef, then go ahead and eat whatever beef you prefer. It’s like everything in America; we are blessed to have so many choices,” Place says.

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