When it comes to Internet activists and extremists, usually the best policy is to ignore them and focus on the 95% of folks who genuinely want to know where their food comes from and how it was raised. I have found that most consumers, once they get to know me or my peers in agriculture, truly like who we are and appreciate what we do on our farms and ranches. But every once in a while, there’s someone worth addressing directly, and that’s the case with the misinformation found in the documentary “Cowspiracy” and those who believe the drama and the hype it presents.
In case you missed my earlier blog post, I described how the documentary paints the beef business in a very negative light, citing cattle as the sole reason we have sustainability issues on our planet. In the trailer of the documentary, the creators insinuate they are taking a big personal risk, even endangering their lives, by making this film. Insert eye roll here.
After I wrote about the documentary, challenging ranchers to “beef” up on their knowledge of how cattle help the environment, a self-described “vegan idealist” blogger took me to task on my facts, which I promptly responded to.
Following that blog post, the folks behind “Cowspiracy” tweeted to me the following: “Tell us more about how grazing cattle supports wildlife.” They included a link to a video which suggests that ranching is detrimental to wildlife.
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I have to scratch my head a little bit because the blogger who took me to task insinuated that cattle gulp down a lot of water, so I would assume they wouldn’t appreciate wildlife drinking water either. But, I’ll happily answer the question, as we’ve written about the wildlife/cattle connection repeatedly on the beefmagazine.com site. So here is a roundup of 8 articles that show how cattle grazing supports wildlife:
As I write this blog, I’m not envisioning some sort of unreachable utopia or imagining an impossible ideal.
But as I look out my window, I see many things that demonstrate the relationship between cattle and wildlife. On the horizon, I see our cattle grazing on rolling pasture hills. As they walk, they aerate the soil with their hooves, creating a healthy environment for bugs and native grasses to grow.
On their shoulders, birds stop to visit, nibbling on bugs. Pheasants waddle under foot, finding haven in the line of trees we planted. Rabbits hop in my backyard. Deer sneak vegetables from my garden and this fall and winter, they will feast on the food plot we planted. Fish swim in the creeks that our cattle drink out of. At night, we can hear the coyotes howl. And even a mountain lion or two has been spotted sulking along the river valley on our ranch, and we believe even killed a calf this summer for a tasty meal.
If the above description doesn’t sound like cattle and wildlife can’t coexist and thrive, I don’t know what does. It’s not a romance; it’s my reality. Raising cattle is something I’m proud to do. Plain and simple, cattle benefit the environment and feed and nourish families.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of Beefmagazine.com or the Penton Farm Progress Group.
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