Anti-beef activists maintain that the production of beef is bad for the environment and want to move people toward a plant based diet, however scientists point out that cattle play a very important role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Bill Fox works at Texas A&M’s Department of Ecosystem Science and Management doing research in Environmental Science, Irrigation and Water Management, and Water Science.
“These systems now as we currently have them have to be managed in some form or fashion. If we leave them to their own, they will respond appropriately. When lightning strikes there’ll be a fire. When floods come, systems can change.”
Fox maintains that grazing has a very positive impact on different aspects within an ecosystem.
“If we’re going to have a desire for the products that come from these kinds of systems, it’s important that we manage them appropriately and grazing is one means of doing this. Grazing can affect things like managing wildfires. It can affect things like managing invasive species, things that we may not want coming into the country or spreading across it.”
Fox says that cattle are also very important to the recycling of nutrients across time and space.
“Nitrogen and phosphorous and other things are important within the ecosystem not just to the livestock that’s being produced but to other desires, the biodiversity that’s out there in the system.”
And grazing helps feed our population and people around the world.
“The livestock grazing, and cattle in particular, are a benefit when managed properly because they are the most efficient tool for harvesting energy from the sun through the plants that are grown to develop a protein source and vitamin sources that are rich and readily available for human consumption.”