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.

The Environmental and Economic Impact of Removing Growth-Enhancing Technologies from United States Beef Production — Jude Capper, PhD, and Dermot Hayes, PhD

This peer-reviewed research, published in the Journal of Animal Science and presented at the 2012 American Society of Animal Science annual meeting, answers the question: What would happen if U.S. farmers and ranchers no longer used productivity-enhancing technologies to raise beef cattle?

To produce the same total amount of U.S. beef without using these technologies, U.S. farmers & ranchers would need 10 million more beef cattle, 81 million more tons of feed, 17 million more acres of land and 138 billion more gallons of water — and 18 million extra metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2eq) would be released in the United States alone. These effects are equivalent to imposing an 8.2 percent tax on U.S. beef farmers and ranchers, leading to a 17 percent reduction in U.S beef production by 2023.

In turn, other countries would increase beef exports. Environmentally, this would mean the release of 3.1 billion more metric tons of CO2eq, and the destruction of 16.9 million acres of Amazon Rainforest and forests in the West Central Cerrado regions of Brazil.

Economic Analysis of Pharmaceutical Technologies in Modern Beef Production in a Bioeconomy Era — John Lawrence, PhD, and Maro Ibarburu

Released in Jan. 2009, this white paper summarizes the impact of pharmaceutical technologies in modern beef production given today’s higher feed prices. Pharmaceutical technologies that improve feed efficiency and/or increase gain have a larger economic impact when feed prices are higher. The value of these technologies increased from $430/head in 2005 to $524/head in 2007 — a 22 percent increase.

And although the market price for calves and feeder cattle has decreased as feed costs have climbed, the price decline would have to be larger if stocker operations and feedyards weren’t allowed to use technologies that improve efficiencies. A ban on pharmaceutical technologies at higher feed prices would impact production, trade and prices — much like was demonstrated in the 2006 white paper (see next section) — but the size of the impact would be larger.

Economic Analysis of Pharmaceutical Technologies in Modern Beef Production — John Lawrence, PhD, and Maro Ibarburu 

The impact of pharmaceutical technologies in modern beef production is simple — they significantly increase the volume of beef produced while reducing production costs by improving animal growth and efficiency across the cow/calf, stocker and feedyard segments. Using 2005 cattle prices and production input costs, this 2006 economic analysis on the impact of growth-promoting technologies found:

  • 14 percent smaller calf crop
  • 18 percent less beef production
  • 180 percent increase in net beef imports
  • 8.5 percent lower per-capita consumption
  • 13 percent increase in retail  beef prices
  • $365/head increase in breakeven cost
  • And a shift to pork and poultry as alternative protein sources

Environmental Safety and Benefits of Pharmaceutical Technology — Alex Avery and Dennis Avery

Pharmaceutical technologies are not only beneficial for beef producers but also for consumers and the environment. Their use results in improved feed efficiency, fewer land requirements and reduced greenhouse-gas emissions per pound of beef produced. And an Iowa State University model demonstrates that conventional beef production requires just 1.7 acre-days to produce one pound of beef compared to five acre-days in a grass-only organic beef production system — and one-fifth of that saved land is a result of growth-enhancing technologies. In short, pharmaceutical technologies allow cattle producers to raise more beef using less grain and less land while creating less waste and fewer greenhouse-gas emissions.

Fifty Years of Pharmaceutical Technology and its Impact on the Beef We Provide to Consumers — Thomas Elam, PhD, and Rodney Preston, PhD

Drs. Elam and Preston took an in-depth look at the economic, environmental and beef-quality implications of pharmaceutical technologies over the past 50 years. They found:

  • Without the technological improvements, the U.S. cattle herd required to produce the 2004 beef supply would nearly double to 180 million head, which would have major implications on land-use and animal-waste issues
  • To provide additional pasture and feed grains, that 180 million head of cattle would require additional land area equal to the combined acreage of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Kansas
  • U.S. beef production on a per-head basis has increased by more than 80 percent, making the U.S. the most efficient beef producer in the world
  • While decreasing resource use, producers have increased total beef production from 13.2 billion pounds to 27 billion pounds
  • Beef quality has improved while inflation-corrected retail prices have decreased by more than 25 percent
  • Feedyard technologies have had a significant impact on cow/calf profitability (production efficiencies in feedyards have decreased the feed and input costs, enabling feedyards to pay more for feeder cattle)

Effects of Various Management Practices on Beef-eating Quality — Ted Montgomery, PhD, and Jennifer Leheska, PhD, RD

Beef-production practices that optimize the wholesomeness, nutritional quality and palatability (beef-eating quality as defined by tenderness, juiciness and flavor) all are critical to consumer satisfaction. The authors looked at factors influencing beef palatability and offered management recommendations to maximize beef-eating quality and palatability in these areas:

  • Cow/calf production
  • Stocker management
  • Feedlot management
  • Post-harvest practices
  • White paper
  • Beef eating-quality brochure

  • Beef Cattle Growth-promoting Products are Safe When Used as Approved — Carcinogenic Aspect — Jim Lauderdale, PhD

    Regulatory authorities at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) and the Joint Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) have concluded that:

    • Consuming meat from cattle produced with growth-promoting products containing estradiol, testosterone and progesterone creates no carcinogenic potential
    • The growth-promoting products containing trenbolone acetate (TBA), zeranol or melengestrol acetate (MGA) can be regulated through tolerances and acceptable daily intakes (ADI) without concern for carcinogenicity

    In addition, human food safety from consuming beef produced with the aid of growth-promoting technologies is assured because:

    • The FDA/CVA approval process requires adequate data from scientific studies ensuring there is no human safety concern
    • The use of growth-promoting technologies is monitored and enforced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), and illegal use is minimized/prevented through monetary fines and imprisonment
    • There is no economic incentive for producers to use greater than the labeled number of implants or doses

    Beef Industry Talking Points

    The SBRC (previously named GET IT) teamed up with Drovers to create Beef Industry Talking Points that can be used to share important facts about beef production and beef products with consumers and the media. The insert includes sections on:

    • Effective communication
    • Beef safety
    • Hormones and antibiotics
    • Family farms vs. factory farms
    • Environment
    • Organic, natural, grass-fed and conventional beef
    • Nutrition
    • Animal welfare

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