If you’ve noticed a few more pickup trucks in town, it might be due to the over 1400 attendees of Texas Agrilife Extension’s 55th annual Beef Short Course being held for cattlemen this week. One of the speakers addressing beef producers emphasized the importance of the continued use of technology to meet the incredible challenge of the increasing global demand for meat, milk, and eggs by a growing population. Joe Brown has more in this week’s From The Ground Up.
Technology is the environment’s friend and the consumer’s friend in this challenge, not only for bringing costs down, but also for protecting the environment and that wildlife habitat.
Alex Avery works for the Hudson Institute Center For Global Food Issues.
"We’re already farming 39% of the planet’s land area now, so unless we continue the scientific revolution in agriculture, increasing the amount of food and fiber we get out of an acre of land, essentially increasing the gas mileage of the agricultural car of society, then we’re going to have to take more land away from wildlife."
Technology using supplemental hormones has increased productivity in the beef sector, but many consumers are afraid of this technology, because they don’t understand it.
"When we castrate a male animal to reduce its aggressiveness and make it handleable, we’ve also hormonally made it like a female and that animal’s gonna start putting on huge amounts of fat, which are a waste, people don’t buy it, they don’t eat it."
"If we give them back a little of the natural testosterone that we took away, we get the very high feed conversion efficiency without the aggressiveness."
Avery says people are fooling themselves if they think they can avoid hormones.
"You can buy all of the organic products that you want, they’re still gonna be chocked full of hormones, so we’re basically trying to preserve the hormonal balance of the uncastrated animal for the feed conversion efficiency, but without the aggressiveness and all of the waste that that entails."
Finishing animals with grain using supplemental hormones takes one third of the amount of land than an all grass fed production system.
"When we talk about agriculture and the environmental movement people think organic is automatically better and the message from the science and the numbers is, it’s not. Organic is, in fact, sometimes the most wasteful way to produce our food and fiber, and consumers ought to have the option and the choice, but they ought to understand what they’re, the choice they’re truly making."
I’m Joe Brown, taking a look at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.