Biden administration “protects animal agriculture” with methane reduction plans • Missouri Independent


Reducing the number of cattle will not be a priority for the Biden administration as it seeks to significantly reduce methane emissions to stem climate change, according to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Instead, the US Department of Agriculture’s “climate smart” initiatives will focus on new types of animal feed and manure management.

“There are a plethora of ways we can help the livestock industry no matter what type of livestock we’re talking about,” Vilsack told Iowa Capital Dispatch Friday. “We have to be aggressive. We cannot ignore it. You can’t put your head in the sand.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas which, along with carbon dioxide, is considered a driving force behind global warming. The new Global Methane Pledge seeks to reduce methane emissions by 30% this decade.

Cattle are the main source of methane in agriculture. A cow can spit out more than 200 pounds of methane each year, according to researchers at the University of California at Davis. There were about 3.7 million cattle and calves in Iowa in January.

Livestock waste also emits methane as it decomposes.

US Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, was skeptical of the possibility of reducing agricultural methane emissions without harming farmers.

“How are you going to stop the cattle from pooping?” … You can’t put diapers on cattle, ”Grassley said last week on a call with reporters. “If they take on animal farming, they’re going to look dumb.”

But Vilsack said specialized diets can reduce methane production in the stomachs of cattle. An example: researchers from the University of New Hampshire to have found that a partial diet of algae can reduce methane emissions from cows.

“With all due respect to the senator, this administration is not attacking animal agriculture,” Vilsack said. “It’s protecting animal agriculture.

He has repeatedly said that the administration has no plans to reduce the cattle populations.

More than 30 countries, including the United States, this week launched the Agriculture Climate Innovation Mission, with a pledge of billions of dollars to help reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years.

Vilsack’s comments came during the United Nations Conference of the Parties on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland, where Vilsack said he met with agricultural officials from other countries to discuss the initiatives.

“There is a growing understanding that we share a common climate challenge,” he said. “And I think we wanted to reinforce the fact that there could be a common vision of the outcome of all of this with net zero agriculture.”

This story was originally published by Iowa Capital Dispatch, a subsidiary of States Newsroom.

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