3 talking points to explain agriculture’s water usage

Agriculture’s water usage is in the spotlight as the ongoing drought in California raises concerns with consumers. Here are a few talking points to help address questions about beef production and water.

Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian ViewAnd the war goes on. jtl

by in BEEF Daily

As the ongoing drought in California continues to plague producers and consumers alike, a trendy headline that media types have been chasing  Planned Grazing: A Study Guide and Reference Manual lately points fingers at agriculture, claiming that the nation’s food producers use too much water. However, this claim doesn’t have much meat on its bones.

When the topic of agriculture’s water use gets brought up in the media, I like to have some talking points in my tool belt to dispel some of the A Handbook for Ranch Managersmyths and correct the misinformation.

Here are three talking points I use that you can add to your arsenal:

1. Taking into account all water from farm to the consumers’ fork—which Combat Shooter's HandbookReconnaissance Marine MCI 03.32f: Marine Corps InstituteThe Betrayed: On Warriors, Cowboys and Other Misfitswould include water for cattle to drink as well as water used in irrigation of pastureland that cattle may graze on and growing crops that cattle may eat; water used for harvesting and processing beef; water used for refrigeration units at the The Essence of Liberty: Volume I: Liberty and History: The Rise and Fall of the Noble Experiment with Constitutionally Limited Government (Liberty and ... Limited Government) (Volume 1)  The Essence of Liberty: Volume II: The Economics of Liberty (Volume 2) The Essence of Liberty: Volume III: A Universal Philosophy of Political Economy (Liberty: A Universal Political Ethic) (Volume 3) grocery store or at a restaurant to keep food cold; water used for transportation as well as in cooking; and even the water taken into account for food waste—it takes 617 gallons of water per 1 pound of boneless beef consumed. Keep in mind that water used in agriculture is not “used up.” The water cycle we all studied in elementary school still works. Water percolates into aquifers, it runs down streams into lakes and oceans, it evaporates and returns as precipitation.

2. The beef community has made major strides in reducing the environmental footprint of beef. According to the most comprehensive lifecycle assessment ever conducted on a food system, beef made the following improvements from 2005 to 2011:

  • 10% improvement in water quality
  • 7% reduction in landfill contributions
  • 3% reduction in water use
  • 2% reduction in resource consumption and energy use
  • 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions

3. Water is a precious resource valued by the farmers and ranchers who raise your food. Farmers and ranchers never take water for granted and work hard to conserve water resources every day and have been for decades, not just in recent years due to the drought. In fact, the share of California’s water used for agriculture has actually declined since 1980 by improving irrigation techniques, planting crops that generate more value with less water and increased recycling. Over the past several years, as the drought hit other areas of the country such as the Southwestern states, the number of cattle raised for beef drastically decreased, resulting in the smallest cowherd since the 1950s. At the same time, the beef community has been able to raise more beef per animal through improvements in feed efficiency and animal health, two areas of improvement cited by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization as the key to future reductions in usage of water and other natural resources.

How do you think the beef industry should respond to media headlines pointing fingers at agriculture’s water use? Feel free to use these talking points in your conversations about the drought, water usage, and agriculture.

The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.

In case you’ve missed BEEF’s coverage on this topic, check out:

1. 3 articles that highlight the media’s coverage of agriculture’s water usage

2. Water issues intensify; will the livestock industry be left in the dust?

3. Water worries: Is management or supply the challenge?

4. Can you justify your ranch’s water use? Soon you might have to.

5. Cattle aren’t the water guzzlers they’re made out to be

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Environmental & Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View

edited by

Dr Jimmy T (Gunny) LaBaume

Is now available in both PAPERBACK and Kindle

BookCoverImageMurray N. Rothbard was the father of what some call Radical Libertarianism or Anarcho-Capitalism which Hans-Hermann Hoppe described as “Rothbard’s unique contribution to the rediscovery of property and property rights as the common foundation of both economics and political philosophy, and the systematic reconstruction and conceptual integration of modern, marginalist economics and natural-law political philosophy into a unified moral science: libertarianism.”

This book applies the principles of this “unified moral science” to environmental and natural resource management issues.

The book started out life as an assigned reading list for a university level course entitled Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: The Austrian View.

As I began to prepare to teach the course, I quickly saw that there was a plethora of textbooks suitable for universal level courses dealing with environmental and natural resource economics. The only problem was that they were all based in mainstream neo-classical (or Keynesian) theory. I could find no single collection of material comprising a comprehensive treatment of environmental and natural resource economics based on Austrian Economic Theory.

However, I was able to find a large number of essays, monographs, papers delivered at professional meetings and published from a multitude of sources. This book is the result. It is composed of a collection of research reports and essays by reputable scientists, economists, and legal experts as well as private property and free market activists.

The book is organized into seven parts: I. Environmentalism: The New State Religion; II. The New State Religion Debunked; III. Introduction to Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; IV. Interventionism: Law and Regulation; V. Pollution and Recycling; VI. Property Rights: Planning, Zoning and Eminent Domain; and VII. Free Market Conservation. It also includes an elaborate Bibliography, References and Recommended Reading section including an extensive Annotated Bibliography of related and works on the subject.

The intellectual level of the individual works ranges from quite scholarly to informed editorial opinion.

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About Land & Livestock Interntional, Inc.

Land and Livestock International, Inc. is a leading agribusiness management firm providing a complete line of services to the range livestock industry. We believe that private property is the foundation of America. Private property and free markets go hand in hand—without property there is no freedom. We also believe that free markets, not government intervention, hold the key to natural resource conservation and environmental preservation. No government bureaucrat can (or will) understand and treat the land with as much respect as its owner. The bureaucrat simply does not have the same motives as does the owner of a capital interest in the property. Our specialty is the working livestock ranch simply because there are so many very good reasons for owning such a property. We provide educational, management and consulting services with a focus on ecologically and financially sustainable land management that will enhance natural processes (water and mineral cycles, energy flow and community dynamics) while enhancing profits and steadily building wealth.
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