Sustainable Agriculture

Topics: Livestock, Meat, Cattle Pages: 5 (1850 words) Published: May 29, 2013
Sustainable Agriculture (Cattle)
Cattle dominate our food market today and our agriculture is becoming less sustainable. Agriculture is “the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products” (Merriam Webster). With technological advancements, farming techniques have changed and mass production is dominating our agriculture. According to the Center for Agroecology Sustainable Food Systems, The US Congress defines a sustainable agriculture in commitment to include, “satisfy human food and fiber needs” and “enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole” (CASFS). These techniques are not only harmful to cattle, but can also be harmful to people consuming them. Some techniques include feeding animals corn instead of natural food, hormones to make them grow faster, and antibiotics are being used to fight off bacteria due to these techniques. Although these techniques have a very negative affect, food prices are an even bigger problem. Money is the determining factor for everything when it comes to agriculture. Every farming company’s goal is to make a profit, which drives farmers to use cheap techniques to mass-produce, creating a cheaper product for consumers. Due to supply and demand, cattle populations have increased but their life quality has not. There are not enough restrictions to protect these animals and something needs to be done. A sustainable agriculture will result in a quality life for our animals and produce a healthier product; to do this we must educate people about food, create restrictions, and enforce these restrictions.

The first step in creating a sustainable agriculture is educating people about the food they are consuming. The majority people are unaware of how our food is made and what it is made of. They are uneducated of the process foods go through and believe that, if a product is sold on the market, that it is safe to eat. Our government does a horrible job at educating about health risks in our food. News media is the quickest way to inform people, but they are not informed until it is to late. An example of this is foodborne illness caused by beef. In 2011 the Center for Disease Control estimated that each year 48 million (or 1 in 6 people) get sick from foodborne illness in the United States. This resulted in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths due to foodborne illness (CDC). One of the most popular foodborne illnesses is salmonella. The United States Department of Agriculture states that, “Salmonella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacilli that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. They are microscopic living creatures A recent incident took place on July 22, 2012 when Cargill Meat Solutions recalled 29,339 pounds of fresh ground beef. The Center for Disease Control reported that 46 people in nine states were infected with salmonella linked to ground beef (CDC). People infected received antibiotics and no deaths were reported. These illnesses could have been prevented if people were more educated about the health risks of beef.

Ground beef is a very popular food, and there is a high demand for it. With high demand, more supply is needed, which leads to mass production. With mass production comes more bacteria and disease. Cattle and feedlots are a key example of this. Over the last 50 years cattle farming has changed dramatically. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated, ‘the size of the beef industry in the U.S. has declined gradually over the last 15 years. There were 1.0 million beef cow operations in 1986, which had declined to 0.83 million operations in 2000. The numbers of beef cows, however, have remained stable at about 33 million head” (EPA). So with the demand of beef staying the same but the number of operations declining, only means that mass production is becoming more popular. Mass production, hormones, antibiotics, and...
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