Cattle Farmers Go Green

Cattle farmers in Massachusetts are experimenting with greener methods of livestock raising. Recent action by the Environmental Protection Agency has increased awareness of pollution and environmental degradation among some farmers. In particular, while many agricultural producers feared that the EPA would attempt to regulate air pollution, some farmers have accepted the need to alter their production methods.

Cattle farming in particular are responsible for significant amounts of air pollution. Overall, farming and ranching is responsible for roughly 6% of the United States’ CO2 emissions, with cattle farming responsible for about 1/3 of this pollution. In addition to air pollution, cattle farming as it currently exists in the United States cannot be sustainable in the long-term. According to recent scientific studies, agricultural production, ranging from grain production to livestock raising, needs to be significantly altered.

Some Massachusetts farmers are experimenting with a forty year old method of cattle farming known as holistic herding. This method takes smaller herds of animals and moves them to new grazing areas daily. Unlike current livestock grazing, where areas are denuded of plants and carbon in the soil is released through the churning of the landscape, holistic herding helps preserve carbon absorbing plants like grasses and clover, reducing CO2 production. Holistic herding can also help regenerate soil faster than leaving fields fallow.

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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer