What's New

  • Journal of Animal Science publishes "The environmental and economic impact of removing productivity-enhancing technologies from U.S. beef production"
  • New research reveals unintended environmental and economic consequences of U.S. beef farmers and ranchers not using technologies
  • Beef-production environmental sustainability improved – release & summary
Click here for information you can share with your friends, family and neighbors about the positive economic and enviornmental impact of beef-production technologies.

Conventional beef production is eco-friendly and eco-nomical

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved conventional beef-production technologies are more important than ever to the livelihood of the U.S. beef industry. They help the industry produce more beef, more efficiently, making beef more affordable for consumers with less impact on the environment.

Conventional beef-production technologies contribute to an affordable food supply

Conventional beef-production technologies — growth-promoting implants, ionophores and beta-agonists — play a critical role in U.S. beef production. They significantly increase the volume of beef produced while conserving natural resources and reducing production costs across all segments of the industry. The result is more affordable beef for consumers and increased consumer demand.

A recently completed economic analysis1  of the impact of these technologies on U.S. beef production using 2007 cattle prices and input costs showed that if the use of growth-enhancing technologies were discontinued, there would be:

            18% less beef produced 
            11% increase in retail beef prices
            8.5% decrease in per-capita consumption of beef

Conventional beef-production technologies improve land-use efficiency

An Iowa State University study2  shows that beef animals finished in a conventional feedyard using grain-based rations and growth-enhancing technologies are three times more land efficient than organic or grass-fed beef animals.

Land area (acre-days) needed to produce
1 pound of beef during the finishing phase

Organic grass-fed Grain-fed without growth-enhancing technologies Grain-fed with growth-enhancing technologies
5.04 1.99 1.64

Conventional feedyard-production technologies make the most efficient use of total farmland resources. This is particularly important as we consider:

  • The world population is estimated to reach 9 billion by the middle of the 21st century
  • The global demand for food will double by 2050 and there will continue to be increased per-capita demand for beef and other high-quality animal protein
  • Worldwide, we have a limited land area on which to produce food, feed and fiber
  • It is critical that we continue to conserve natural and biodiverse natural habitats

Conventional beef-production technologies reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Conventional grain-based beef-production systems reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions  by 40 percent compared to grass-only finishing programs2. Growth-promoting technologies account for 25 percent of this reduction. Overall, beef production contributes only 2 percent of the GHG emissions in the U.S. compared to 80 percent from fossil-fuel combustion.

Additional resources

1Lawrence, J.D. and M. Ibarburu. 2009. Economic Analysis of Pharmaceutical Technologies in Modern Beef Production in a Bioeconomy Era. Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa. http://econ2.econ.iastate.edu/faculty/lawrence/pharma%202007%20update.pdf. Accessed July 22, 2010.

2Avery, A. and D. Avery. 2007. The Environmental Safety and Benefits of Pharmaceutical Technologies in Beef Production. Center for Global Food Issues, Churchill, VA. http://www.cgfi.org/pdfs/nofollow/beef-eco-benefits-paper.pdf. Accessed July 22, 2010.

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