I applaud Princeton for creating a Sustainability Action Plan (“Bye-Bye, All-Beef ... Hello, Sustainability,” Jan. 8), but as a rancher I am disappointed by the comment from Director of the Office of Sustainability Shana Weber: “Eating less animal-based protein is often the single most effective thing an individual can do to combat climate change, erosion, and water- and soil-quality degradation.” This broad generalization lumps all animal agriculture into one big bucket.
Worldwide meat-production methods, and associated ecological footprints, vary as widely as the production of a carrot versus cotton candy. Grazing of large herbivores on grasslands throughout the world is a natural product of evolution. All over the world domestic herbivores graze alongside wild herbivores. We spent the last 25 years adapting cattle-grazing protocols on 14,000 acres in Colorado to maximize biodiversity.
The carbon and methane emissions of 30-60 million bison on the Great Plains evolved as part of a carbon/methane cycle. Those bison did not produce carbon or methane; they were part of a food chain that cycled carbon and methane between the soil, plant matter, and the atmosphere. Our cattle fill the same niche. Ms. Weber and anyone at Princeton concerned with livestock and sustainability have an open invitation to visit Rancho Largo Cattle Co. and see regenerative agriculture at work. They can help evaluate hoof impact, manure distribution, plant diversity, invertebrate activity, litter and residual plant cycling, soil structure, and soil biotic activity. We integrate all these metrics to determine grazing protocols. Sustainability can look different on the ground with a producer who draws a livelihood from the land.