Montana Ranch cows

Montana Ranch
What this article is about: 1. Why the world needs livestock. 2. What is Holistic Management. 3. How grazing animals are perhaps more important to climate change than eliminating fossil fuels.

What this article is not about: Debate over consumer preferences on animal protein versus lab or cell-based protein. Nor is it about, vegan versus carnivore. I support free markets and consumer preferences and we all should have the option to buy food of our choice.

Our planet is experiencing climate change and increasing population at an accelerated rate. That statement is not an opinion, it's just science and math. As such, we need to leverage science to do with precision and safety what nature has been doing recklessly since the beginning of mankind. We also need to embrace capitalism as our planet's greatest problem-solving mechanism to accelerate increasing investment in agriculture. Investment needs to be thoughtful and focused on addressing known and quantifiable poorly or unmet market needs with detailed value propositions. A value proposition simply means what a product or service does better than the next best alternative. For example, Walmart's is "Everyday Low Prices" and Whole Foods's is "America's Healthiest Grocery Store". A value proposition needs to deliver either a risk mitigation, cost reduction or an increase in profitable revenue to grow sales or attract investment.

A consequence of climate change is desertification. Two-thirds of our planet's land is desertifying. According to NASA, "desertification is land degradation in typically dry areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities." More scientists are saying desertification is a reduction in the productivity of land that is not reversable. Although I do believe we need to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, we also need to double-down on better managing livestock and agriculture to address desertification.

If you will, please consider making this article interactive and view Allan Savory's TED Talk - "Running out of Time | Documentary on Holistic Management". Allan articulates what holistic management is and its benefits. Holistic management "is a value-based decision-making framework that integrates all aspects of planning for social, economic and environmental considerations". You'll find Allan's TED Talk inspiring but lacking empirical data and scientific proof points. That said, I do believe Allan's claims and there does exist further studies led by Peter Byck from Arizona State University delivering more reasons to believe (proof points). If you are still engaged after viewing Allan's TED Talk, please view General Mills Blog highlighting Zachary Jones - Co-Founder of the Savory Institute and Grasslands LLC - "The life of a modern cowboy".

If you haven't figured it out by now, we as a people and an environment, need livestock for mimicking nature. Planned grazing of ruminant animals is necessary for regenerative and restorative agriculture. To reiterate my respect for consumer preferences on food consumption, this article is not about what is better for human dietary health and wellness (plant versus animal versus cellular meat), this is about our planet's ability to produce food long term on two-thirds of our planet's ground surface.

Whether land is used for ranching (grazing animals), food production (row crop production like corn, soybeans and wheat) or public land conservation, it can be returned to health and/or its productivity greatly increased without large infusions of cash, equipment or technology. Over 40 million acres of land worldwide currently benefit from Holistic Management practices.

Grazing animals, particularly cattle, are our best bet for mitigating impacts of climate change. Peter Byck's www.soilcarboncowboys.com delivers validation of Allan Savory's claims. Peter and I met several years ago and quickly connected over our common objective of using science in addressing sustainable improvement in environment, society and economy.

If referenced experts haven't convinced you, please allow me to share observations on a trip last year to Montana.

The first observation was sharp indentations of rivers and streams throughout the landscape. Our host is a regenerative agriculture and holistic management expert and he explained during days of massive herds of bison, sharp indentations were long gradual approaches to water where beaver, otter and mink could see long distances of approaching predators such as coyotes and wolves. Guess what? Remove the Bison, you no longer have gradual approaches allowing coyotes and wolves and advantage over their prey.

The second observation was increasing forest fires in Northern Plains. The near elimination of bison herds reduced trampling of seedlings thus more trees. More trees, more fires. We need cattle - the ultimate domestic animal forager to mimic what bison had done during the greatest of times relating to soil fertility and vibrant ecosystems in the northern plains of CO, MT, NE, ND, SD and WY.

The trip was highlighted by Dan Huebschmann - Corporate Executive Chef and Partner with the Gibson Restaurant Group preparing 120 day aged Australian grass-fed and finished boneless ribeye imported from JBS. Every one of us on this trip, representing all stakeholders in cattle/beef supply chain agreed it was one of the best meat-eating experiences we've had. We can and are producing high quality grass-fed and finished beef in the United States and should do more of it. Even if you choose not to consume red meat, our plant needs regenerative agriculture and the cattle industry is a proven vehicle.