Most people don’t think about how their food affects the environment. One of the most significant impacts is related to land health. For example, poorly-managed cattle grazing on rangeland can affect water quality by increasing sedimentation and nutrient runoff into waterways. With a focus on restoring healthy soil function and plant diversity, many ranchers are implementing management practices that will help improve both ranching profitability and watersheds in degraded landscapes.
What do you know about your beef? A lot of us have never thought about it before but there are some things we should be aware of when buying beef products from grocery stores or restaurants. This blog post is going to talk briefly about one important aspect; Rangeland Health!
The U.S. imports an enormous amount of beef. Due to flawed U.S. policies, origin of the beef does not have to be labeled (and hence, is not; who would buy deforestation beef from the Amazon rain forest?). Much of this beef comes from ecologically sensitive areas, such as rain forests that have been cut down for grazing. Since it is shipped as frozen carcasses to the US and cut and wrapped here, it emerges in the meat aisle mixed in with American beef, unlabeled as to its place of origin. It is virtually impossible for a consumer to trace this beef, so we are buying meat that could have been produced responsibly without degradation of the environment, or at great cost to the environment, without ever knowing which is the case.
Even in the US, some beef is raised without awareness of the impact of the livestock on the land. Most ranchers understand that their long-term survival depends on the quality of their grasslands and hayfields. If the soil is significantly degraded, it can take decades to return to prior productivity, and hence a long-term drop in profitability would be expected. As these ranches operate on a thin margin, even a relatively small drop in productivity can quickly ruin their business.
By understanding your soil and water conditions, you can better manage your ranch. Areas that are more sensitive are grazed less, or even taken out of cattle production for a year or more. Cattle are moved from heavier grazed areas to underutilized areas by means of fencing, water source improvements, and strategic salting. There is no "one-size fits all" plan for every ranch; each ranch is different. Some areas may benefit from intensive rotational grazing, some areas may not. Based on the season of the year, drought (or flood) conditions, and wildfires
Stay tuned for more grazing updates in the future!
Pintler Mountain Beef