Chat with us, powered by LiveChat Entry journal | Economics Write

I Attached all the files also, here are some links: 1- Can meat actually be eco-friendly…2- The smart seafood buying guide…3-…You don’t have to write about all the sources, choose from 3 to 4 sources.





Unformatted Attachment Preview

Emerging Issues in Animal Agriculture
Sustainable Animal Agriculture
Agricultural practices are
often defined as either
sustainable or unsustainable. This categorization is
subject to how one defines
“sustainability”. Sustainable
agriculture may mean, for
example, to lower inputs
(chemicals, fossil fuel energy), to promote a certain
scale or pattern of farming,
to maximize production
(conventional agriculture;
Thompson, 2007) or to
minimize release of environmentally harmful byproducts
of agriculture. Thompson
(2007) argued, however, that
each individual practice in
agriculture is neither sustainable nor unsustainable
in itself. The true meaning
of agricultural sustainability
may be reached only from a
holistic view of a system that
encompasses a wide variety of farming practices by
both small and large operations. A broad and dynamic
definition of sustainability for
animal agriculture describes
a system of sufficient and
profitable food production
that is independent of scale
and includes complex interactions between agriculture
and society.
 Marcus Hollmann, Michigan State University, Department of Animal Science
Animal agriculture within society
Animal production has been a vital part of
human civilization for millennia. Animal
products include foods such as milk,
meat and eggs that are rich in important
nutrients. Furthermore, animal agriculture
provides organic fertilizer, labor, hides
and hair to clothe, horns and bones for
tools, and energy, and serves for
education, entertainment and spirituality.
Animal agriculture also has contributed
to the rise and fall of several cultures. For
example, the collapse of the onceblossoming cultures in Mesopotamia
around 3000 B.C. was due, at least in part,
to deforestation and overgrazing of the
once fertile soil and subsequent soil
erosion and desertification. Since that
time, prospering societies have emerged
and vanished, and strong societies have
been established predominantly around
centers of productive agriculture.
Positive contributions of animal
agriculture to local societies are often
overlooked. Family-owned and
independently operated animal
production operations add to the wealth
of the local community. Honeyman (1996)
listed increased income, community
services and participation in democratic
processes, as well as a more balanced class
structure, in communities with familyowned and -operated animal farms. In
addition, rearing of domestic animals
increases overall joyous feeling in society
and serves as a learning tool to educate
people, especially children; or, as Aldo
Leopold once stated: “There are two
spiritual dangers in not owning a farm.
One is the danger of supposing that
breakfast comes from the grocery and the
other that heat comes from the furnace.”
Society with little animal agriculture
Michigan State University Extension | Emerging issues in animal agriculture
augments those dangers. Unfortunately,
it seems impossible to assign a concrete
value to animal agriculture’s intrinsic
contributions to society.
Nutrient flow within agricultural
production systems
Consumption of products derived from
plants or animals by humans or animals
completes the flow of nutrients and
energy in nature. Currently, humans in
developed and developing countries
acquire roughly 27 percent and 13
percent of calories, respectively, from
animal products (Gilland, 2002).
Conceptually, agricultural production can
be viewed as controlled management of
the flow of nutrients and energy.
Nutrients flow within a cycle in the whole
farm as a system. This cycle is by no means
perpetual — there are nutrient inflows and
outflows from the whole farm (Figure 1).
For example, nitrogen volatilizes
inevitably during agricultural
production and has to be reintroduced
into the cycle by means of addition of
organic or inorganic fertilizers, fixation
via legumes (N-fixing plants) or
atmospheric deposition.
Furthermore, the cyclic flow of nutrients
is dynamic. Raising animals in times
of excess crop production will provide
nutrition for following “lean” years. In the
cradles of civilization, Mesopotamia and
Egypt, animal husbandry was originally
introduced to utilize fibrous plants in dry
hills distant to the flood plains as a food
reserve for years of excess or
missing floods. Today, human
consumption of grains remains rather
stable in times of crop failures, whereas
intake of animal products decreases
Figure 1. Example of a farm nutrient cycle. Courtesy of Michigan State University Extension Dairy
Team (2006).
drastically (Gilland, 2002). This suggests
a shift from grain usage from animal to
human consumption and may contribute
to the malnutrition during famine.
Historically, the flow of nutrients was
largely confined within individual,
multipurpose farms. Yet, the
modernization of agriculture in the past
century has spread nutrient flow over a
larger area as farms often concentrated
solely on either crop or animal production,
and, subsequently, crop (feed) products
were transferred to animal farms.
Eventually, designated regions of crop
and animal production emerged, and the
once cyclic flow of nutrients between crop
and animal enterprises on a single farm
became a one-way street with nutrients
(e.g., phosphorus) moved from
crop-producing farms and regions to
farms in animal-dense regions and not
recycled. Consequently, nutrients have
been accumulating in regions with an
emphasis on animal production while
being depleted in crop-producing regions.
Recently established regulations require
larger animal farms to account for their
manure nutrients and avoid
overapplication of nutrients. This leads to
the export of manure nutrients and/or to
the depopulation of animals in
livestock-dense regions. Both impose
exorbitant cost in the short and midterm,
not only to animal agriculture but also to
rural communities of the affected regions.
Animal agriculture and the
industrial paradigm
Animal production has increasingly
followed the paradigm of traditional
manufacturing industries rather than
one primarily focused on cyclic nutrient
flow. Improvements of labor and land
productivity, technological advances and
increased value of products have occurred
over the same time period in animal farms
to increase economic efficiency and farm
income (Hoshiba, 2002). However, the
manufacturing process is not cyclic but
straight-line — products are efficiently
manufactured from raw materials, with
the goal of generating very little waste.
Animal agriculture is relatively inefficient
in transforming dietary nutrients into
meat, milk and eggs (Hoshiba, 2002).
Huge volumes of waste accumulate during
the transformation of feed to milk. For
example, efficiency of dietary N
recaptured in milk on dairy farms rarely
exceeds 30 percent with the remaining 70
percent excreted as manure (Hollmann
et al., 2008). Often, animal production is
based on large imports of feed grains and,
in many cases, forages from local farms or
even distant regions as discussed above.
Under these circumstances, manure may
not have been valued as a resource but
as a waste product that farmers had to
dispose of. The once cyclic nutrient flow
in agriculture gave way in some cases to
a straight-line industrial waste-disposal
system. The subsequent contributions
of animal agriculture to past and current
environmental problems were thus in part
an artifact of enhancing economics
without attention to the overall
sustainability of the food production
system (Hoshiba, 2002).
Nonetheless, it is noteworthy that farm
scale does not categorically affect farm
sustainability. Large animal operations are
not unsustainable per se. They are
sustainable if they are part of an intact
cycle of nutrient, or energy flow. And
small farms are unsustainable if they, for
example, have a low efficiency of nutrient
and energy use or cause environmental
Dimensions of agricultural
The definition of sustainability is often
ambiguous or poorly stated, and depends
on personal experience, intellect and
Michigan State University Extension | Emerging issues in animal agriculture
worldview. In addition, “sustainability”,
or exactly what is to be sustained, can
change with time. This is true for
animal agricultural sustainability.
Douglass (1984) proposed that there are
three emerging dimensions to sustainable
agriculture, and each dimension is
founded on a different school of thought
or view.
The first dimension encompasses food
security and profitability, in that
agriculture is obligated to produce
sufficient amounts of healthy food that
are acceptable for consumption by people
while providing sufficient income to
farmers, farm workers, and processers
up- and downstream from the farm. This
dimension describes a sustainability based
mainly on the market regulations of supply and demand, on profitability and on
technological progress to ensure
ever-increasing yields (e.g., grain yield per
acre or milk yield per cow).
Mathematically, this can be equated as
maximization of outputs divided by
inputs. Proponents of this school of
thought trust in conventional agriculture
and its regulation by the free market and
are skeptical about the need for
sustainable agriculture programs
(Thompson, 2007). This view implies
unlimited resources such as energy, fresh
water, a fertile land base and minerals, and
an indestructible environment.
an infinite time period, which implies an
intact environment. One may think of
the combination of use of finite resources
and environmental cost as destructive
units. Under the assumption that there is
an ethical obligation to assure sufficient
food (nutrients) for all humans now and
in the future, agriculture must produce
the necessary amounts of nutrients while
minimizing the destructive units
generated. The emergence of a second
dimension from the first dimension of
food security exemplifies general systems
theory –. i.e., combining several lower
level dimensions (subsystems) leads to
the emergence of a broader system. Food
production is the system of the first
dimension, surrounded by an environment
that supplies resources such as air, water,
soil fertility, biodiversity and energy.
However, food production actively
interacts with these resources and
changes the availability or quality of these
resources — e.g., extensive soil erosion
may affect soil fertility and quality, water
quality and biodiversity. Thus, the system
of food production ought additionally to
include its resources as subsystems
(Figure 2). This ensures that food
production effectively can alter the
resources. Conversely, narrowing food
production to just production efficiency
within a surrounding environment that
supplies resources, as in the first
dimension, neglects the complexity of
dynamics between food production and
the resources. This emphasizes the need
to examine food production, including
animal agriculture, from a more holistic
view than simply production efficiency.
The third proposed dimension of
sustainability incorporates “society” and
its expectations of what is sustainable
food production or agriculture. In this
philosophy, agriculture no more is its own
The second dimension to sustainable
agriculture accounts for the finite
nature of most resources in agriculture
and environmental degradation. In this
dimension, sustainability is regarded as
“stewardship” (Douglass, 1984). Where
the previous dimension of food security
and profitability relies on
maximization of output over input, the
stewardship dimension adds a
time-variable and views sustainable
agriculture as “resource management”
(Berkes and Folke, 1998): food must be
secured for an ever-growing population
indefinitely. According to the stewardship
school, production has an environmental
cost, and neither resources nor the
environment can be depleted to attain
food security. Resource management
seeks to optimize yield (output) and
efficiency of resource use (input) over
Michigan State University Extension | Emerging issues in animal agriculture
entity but is embedded in a larger system
with other subsystems, all relying on the
same limited resources.
Abstractly, the three dimensions
symbolize an increasing hierarchy (Figure
1). At the lowest dimension of
hierarchy, the farmer’s responsibility
revolves around sufficient and profitable
production of food. Subsequently,
ecological and environmental
responsibilities emerge in the second
dimension of agricultural
sustainability. Part of the environment
is no longer viewed as a surrounding of
food production but is itself an important
and dynamic factor in the production of
sufficient nutrients and energy. At the
third dimension, the most integrated and
sophisticated, sustainable agriculture
is seen interactive with society and vice
versa — members of society have an active
role as stakeholders in agricultural
production. Society obtains the
responsibility of providing the
infrastructures (roads and transport,
governmental support, industries
upstream and downstream of agricultural
production, etc.) and political assurances
(monetary system, banks, insurances,
enforcement of laws and regulations,
etc.). In return, farmers not only provide
nutrients for the people in return for
income but support the local community
by provision of leadership, jobs and public
services. Sustainable agriculture in this
scenario obtains a role in the larger system
of a sustainable rural community or, on an
even greater scale, a rural-urban
Dynamic changes affecting
animal agriculture in a
sustainable rural community
As a result of the ever-changing nature of
the balance of subsystems within and the
environment surrounding the sustainable
community, the exact meaning of
“sustainability” is dynamic, and thus
changing over time, because of three
variables: the demands for the amount,
type, prize and quality of products
(output) and availability and price of
inputs vary; the changes in the
environments surrounding the rural or
rural-urban community; and the
sociopolitical changes in society.
Demand of products and availability
of resources
Estimations by the United
Nations Population Division (2008)
revealed that world population will have
surpassed the 9 billion mark by 2050.
Sustaining 6.8 billion people in 2010
differs greatly from sustaining 9-plus
billion people in 2050 — additional food
demands will put additional strain on
resource management. Certainly, given the
current state of agricultural
production, securing food for 9 billion
people shifts the pendulum further from
maximizing resource efficiency and closer
to yield maximization. The challenge is
not only to achieve sustainable resource
management in the current world, a
monumental task in itself, but to do even
more in the world of 2050 and beyond.
Therefore, two related aspects of
paramount importance in agricultural
science, including animal science, are
to improve drastically the efficiency of
agricultural production, and to increase
the units of production per destructive
unit generated in the production process.
Meanwhile, food production must remain
profitable for the farmers and food must
be affordable for the consumers.
Changes of the surrounding
This variable encompasses changes within
or outside the rural community that are
not easily controlled. Examples include
long-term changes in temperature, solar
energy, concentrations of atmospheric
gases, natural disasters, outbreaks of
diseases and pests, and loss of availability
of resources or market outlets due to war
or trade embargos from other societies.
Sociopolitical transformation
Governments and societies impose
ever-changing demands on agriculture,
especially on animal agriculture.
Governments decide on and oversee
compliance with laws and regulations,
secure and regulate the monetary and
taxation systems, may supply incentives
or subsidies, and negotiate bi- and
multilateral trade agreements on
agricultural products and resources.
Societies have various beliefs about
agricultural practices, such as animal
welfare and animal rights; the extent by
which technologies, especially
biotechnologies such as cloning or
hormonal treatments, should be utilized
in animal production; or scale and
patterns of farming. These beliefs
transform and evolve over time. Society
enforces its beliefs by exercising
consumer preference for certain food
types and tastes, and foods of a specific
origin; by lobbying for laws and
regulations; and by voting during
democratic elections.
These three variables impose a strong
dynamism on agricultural production of
food. However, “sustainability” is based
on specific values reflecting a snapshot
in time; therefore, these dynamics make
it rather impossible to concretely define
“sustainability”. It is, however, naïve to
assume that feeding 6 billion people in the
year 2000 and more than 9 billion people
by 2050 worldwide can ever be based on
a perpetual system. In addition, it may be
illusionary that any agricultural practice
will be sustainable indefinitely. Any type
of agriculture and utilizations of other
food resources such as hunting and fishing
will dissipate resources and environment.
A reasonable goal should be to extend
sustainability as far into the future as
possible. The following sections will
examine ways to limit the destructive
units originating from animal
Sustainable animal agriculture
In 2002, Tilman and co-workers reported
that food production worldwide exceeded
food consumption by roughly 8
percent. However, per capita cereal
harvest worldwide had peaked in the
early 1980s and declined from there on
while meat production increased linearly
from 23 kg/person in 1960 to 37 kg/person
in 1997, despite an exponential growth in
global human population. Some
researchers project a continuous increase
in grain yields per acre (Borlaug, 2009),
while others forecast diminishing
increases and stagnation in grain yields
(Tilman et al., 2002). In the near future,
scarce resources such as water, fertile soil
and arable grounds, as well as energy from
Michigan State University Extension | Emerging issues in animal agriculture
fossil fuel and, subsequently, synthetic
nitrogen fertilizers, will become limiting.
Therefore, the need to utilize human food
and animal feed sources more efficiently
constantly rises.
Conversion of humanly inedible
Animals have the ability to convert feed
sources of little value to human nutrition
(e.g., fibrous plants, byproducts, food
waste) into nutrient-rich foods for human
consumption (e.g., meat, milk and eggs) or
to increase the protein quality of
human-edible foods. Perennial fibrous
feeds such as grasses can be grown and
utilized from poor soil that is unsuitable
or only marginally suitable for cultivation.
Compared with annual row crops,
perennials require less fossil fuel energy,
reduce soil erosion, enhance
biodiversity and regenerate destructed
soil, and ought to be included in crop
rotations. In addition, animals transform
byproducts and food waste such as
distiller’s grains from grain ethanol
production or kitchen waste, respectively,
which otherwise would have to be
disposed of as waste, into proteins for
human consumption.
Efficiency of feed conversion into
humanly edible foodstuffs
Animals do not convert all nutrients
consumed, mainly protein and energy,
directly into foods for human
consumption; protein and energy are
inevitably lost during the conversion.
More importantly, however, protein of
animal origin has a higher nutritive value
than protein in animal feed. In nutritive
value, protein efficiency in milk from dairy
cows is 96 percent to 276 percent, and in
meat from beef cattle, 52 percent to 104
percent, using moderate conversion rates
(Oltjen and Beckett, 1996).
Generation of environmentally destructive
units (e.g., greenhouse gases, phosphorus
in surface waters) and usage of fossil fuel
energy and energy-derived fer …
Purchase answer to see full

error: Content is protected !!