Posts Tagged ‘deforestation’

Rainforest and Beef Industry.

Rainforest Cleared for Beef Industry.

Beef is so close in our daily diet; bacon or sausage at breakfast, hamburger, hotdog or sandwich for lunch and steak for dinner; yet not many of us realize how close the connection of the lost of Rainforest and beef industry is. Many of us don’t just pass a day without having a slice of beef.  In fact, according to USDA consumption data, it’s the number one protein source in America with average consumption of 67 pounds per person per year, which is about three ounces each day.  Therefore no surprise that the U.S. beef industry is made up of more than one million businesses, farms and ranches with approximately 800,000 ranchers and cattlemen in the United States. Not enough with this, U.S. also imports beef in huge amount every year, such as 1.6 million metric tons in 2005, that make the country becomes the largest beef importer in the world. Uruguay, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Brazil are among U.S. beef suppliers.

Although its population is less then 5 percent of the world’s population, American consume almost 25 percent of the world’s beef.

So, it is unquestionable that beef has been the favorite meat in U.S. You might be surprised to learn how the industry of this favorite meat takes land, many of which are formerly  rainforest.


That’s what David Pimentel From “Livestock Production: Energy Inputs and the Environment” illustrates about how large the cattle raising is occupying land in US.  More than 302 million hectares of land are devoted to producing feed for the U.S. livestock population — about 272 million hectares in pasture and about 30 million hectares for cultivated feed grains.

Indeed, in the U.S. food production system, cattle take the largest land. Grazing land and farm to produce crops to feed the cattle account for about 500 million acres, or approximately 53% of the total 938 million acres agriculture land. Globally, the cattle raising is the largest anthropogenic user of land. Grazing land covers about 26 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface, while feed crop production comprises about a third of all arable land.

A cow has to eat 7 lbs of grain and soy bean protein to produce 1 lb of meat protein. If the same land were to produce food for humans directly, 7 times more people could eat.

By the extensive growth of international fast food chains, the demand of beef in the other countries has been as well exploded.  Large corporations are looking to buy cheap beef for hamburger or bolognaise, frozen meat products and even canned pet food. This rocketing global demand has boosted cattle raising in Central and South America too, triggering deforestation in the Amazon rainforest. About70 percent of previously forest is used as pasture, and feed crops cover a large part of the reminder. Brazil is the largest beef industry in the world; the country produces almost 7 million metric tons of beef each year from a total population of 165 million head, making the cause of the 60-70 percent of the deforestation in Brazilian Amazon. To be exact, more than 600,000 square kilometers (or about 232,000 square miles) of Amazon rainforest have been destroyed since 1970; while within 2000 and 2006, Brazil lost its forest nearly 150,000 square kilometers. Many US companies are reported to have purchased tracks of rainforest in Costa Rica for cattle raising which is then mostly sold back as beef to the United States.

Rampant deforestation for cattle raising also happens in Central America. Since beef demand began rocketing in 1960, more than 25 percent of the area’s rainforests have been cleared for pastures. The deforestation for cattle raising shows a staggering rate, that it is assumed for each pound of Central American beef permanently destroys over 200 square feet of rainforest. This makes cattle ranching, along with logging and oil exploration, one of the primary causes of rainforest destruction. Today, livestock now occupies two-thirds of Central America’s agricultural land.

The Effects of This Land Clearing:

The significant effects resulted from this land clearing, especially of the rainforest :

Extinction of many species:

Tropical Rainforests presently give a place to call home for 50% - 90% of all organisms, 90% of our relatives, the primates, and 50 million creatures that can live no place but the rich rainforests (World Rainforest Movement 16). Destroying rainforest causes many of   them die out and certain species even go extinct. Scientist noted that breaking down the rainforest ecosystems can lead to the disappearance of up to 10% of the world’s species within the next 25 years.

Climate Change:

As trees stored Carbon Dioxide (CO2), chopping them down means destroying the CO2 tank. Once released to the atmosphere, this CO2 accumulates as greenhouse gas which is causing global warming. One of the main causes of climate change has been noticed sourcing from the rampant destruction of the rainforest that form a precious cooling band around the Earth’s equator.


Beef on your table might be cropped from once a rainforest. A larger demand of beef may drive to larger rainforest being cleared. Minimizing the beef consumption might result the opposite, avoiding further deforestation. Taking other alternative protein sources for your diet will be a great help to save the environment and endangered species.


With understanding the connection of rainforest and beef Industry, maybe it is wise to reduce our beef consumption.

You might also interest to learn further dreadful impacts of cattle raising from my following articles :
- Cattle Waste
- Cattle’s Water Consumption.

Or you can also buy this book to have a deeper look :