Australia's excessive beef production is a huge problem, leading to things such as:
deforestation, biodiversity loss, mono-cropping, destruction of the Great Barrier Reef, etc.
Most of the beef produced in Australia is exported to Asia, around 100 million tons annually!
Although maybe we won't quite reach those numbers this year, it will be somewhere close.
Beef is one of the most unsustainably farmed proteins in the world and exporting it in such large quantities overseas every year just adds to how unsustainable it is, from the CO2 emissions produced by transportation and refrigeration. Are the profits really worth the expense of our forests and reef and all of the wild creatures that inhabit them?
"Beef production is responsible for more than 94 percent of destroyed Great Barrier Reef catchments, according to a report by The Wilderness Society.
The new spatial data analysis finds beef production responsible for 73 percent of all land clearing in Queensland. In Great Barrier Reef catchments, this figure is 94 percent over a five-year period."
“Deforestation is a leading driver of biodiversity loss, a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, and contributed to poor water quality running into the Great Barrier Reef,” the report says. Intensified animal agriculture is responsible for “driving additional chemical run-off into Reef waters on top of the existing chemical loads.”
Additionally, the report noted that attributing 73 percent of land clearing to beef production is likely a “significant underestimate.”
Now I would like to acknowledge the efforts that the Cattle Council of Australia is putting in towards making the cattle industry more sustainable:
"The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework
Cattle Council supports the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework as a way to guide sustainable beef production and demonstrate the beef industry's sustainability credentials to consumers and stakeholders.
Launched in April 2017, the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework (the Framework) was developed by the Australian beef industry to meet the changing expectations of customers, investors and other stakeholders. The Framework defines sustainable beef production and tracks performance over a series of indicators annually. The indicators will continue to be refined through a process of consultation with both stakeholders and technical experts. https://www.sustainableaustralianbeef.com.au/the-framework
Cattle Council supports the goal of the Australian red meat industry becoming carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30).
The red meat and livestock industry is on the front foot, proactively taking action and aims to maintain or improve long-term productivity and herd numbers while striving to deliver zero net emissions.
Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program
CCA is working with the Federal Government through the National Farmers' Federation on the implementation of a voluntary Agriculture Biodiversity Stewardship Program that rewards producers who undertake on-farm environmental projects." https://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/natural-resources/landcare/sustaining-future-australian-farming
Now whether or not the ambitious CN30 target will be achieved or if it is simply an attempt to prop up the cattle farming industry with no intentions to achieve the target, only time will tell.
What I would like to point out is that no matter how sustainable you try and make beef... there will always be an abundance of far more sustainable proteins (crops) that we can produce which take up far less land and have much less impact on the environment.
If the Australian cattle industry truly pledges to be sustainable and carbon neutral by 2030 they will stop overproducing and exporting the product of the very destruction of our forests and reef.
The most responsible and sustainable way to reach the CN30 target would be to dramatically reduce production and increase the price of beef to the consumer. Beef should no longer be seen as a staple protein, it should now be considered a delicacy to be consumed on the very odd occasion if at all.
With far less land now needed for producing one of the worlds most destructive proteins we could now replant the forests which protected the reef and bring back the rain and natural biodiversity. Cattle farmers now with far fewer animals to look after could learn the ropes of 'permaculture' and they could sustainably farm a whole variety of high protein crops to sustain the nation. Not just a expansive empty pasture for cattle to graze or a mono-culture of land degrading crops to feed the livestock in feedlots as seen below...
Cattle farming is not sustainable at large scale and never will be.
Please agree to the climate warning: Beef kills the Great Barrier Reef!