Environment / Event / ILRI / Livestock-Water / USA / Water

Water ‘hoofprint’ of farm animals differs greatly by region and livestock production system–and can be reduced

Women washing and cow drinking in Rajasthan compressed

Village women wash clothes and cattle are watered at a pond in Rajasthan, India (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The fifth annual Water for Food Conference was held 5–8 May 2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, hosted by the University of Nebraska’s Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and sponsored by Monsanto.

. . . Too often our policymakers are taking the issue of climate change and kicking it down the road,” said Mace Hack, state director of The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. . . .

‘Earlier in the conference, livestock experts addressed livestock’s often misunderstood role in sustainable agriculture.

‘”Beef does use a heck of a lot of water, and I’m not here to say it doesn’t,” said Jude Capper, a livestock sustainability consultant from Bozeman, Mont.

‘However, she said, anti-meat activists have painted an unfair picture using distorted statistics and scare tactics.

‘”We are bombarded every day with the message, ‘If you care about the planet, you shouldn’t eat meat,'” she said.

In the United States, Capper said, improved beef production reduced the sector’s water footprint 88 percent from 1977 to 2007. Further improvements can yield more progress, she said.

‘Bradley Ridoutt, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia, said any discussion of livestock’s role has to consider its location and context.

Livestock production in different parts of the world has different environmental impacts. . . .

Globally, livestock accounts for 16 percent of the calories, 33 percent of the protein and 43 percent of the fat consumed by humans, said Mats Lannerstad of the International Livestock Research Institute and Stockholm Environmental Institute. Beyond that, he noted, livestock has many nonfood uses. . . .

‘The three-day conference drew more than 400 people from around the world who are working to overcome the urgent challenge of growing more food with less water.’

Read the whole article at Tri-State Neighbor (USA): Nebraska conference explores water issues, 10 May 2013.

More information about the Water for Food Conference is online at http://waterforfood.nebraska.edu/wff2013.

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