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Big Ag, not Only Big Oil, on the ‘Climate Change’ Menu

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- April 25, 2024

The U.S. and global meat industries are thriving. Fake meat is in trouble because of bad taste, bad ingredients, high prices, and ultra-processing (“lab creatures“). Vegetables … well, they are good along side the protein, right?

The average American consumes nearly a pound a day of meat (chicken, beef, fish). Nine out of ten eat meat, with near-record consumption year after year. And flame-kissed with gas or charcoal is a best practice in such enjoyment.

Globally, the growth of meat consumption is dramatic. According to Our World in Data, “global meat production has … more than quadrupled since 1961.” Continuing:

Regionally, Asia now holds the position of being the largest meat producer, contributing a substantial portion of the total global meat production. This represents a significant shift from previous decades. In the early 1960s, Europe and North America were the primary meat-producing regions. However, by the early 21st century, their combined share had decreased notably, with Asia emerging as the predominant region in terms of meat production.

All regions are registering increases.

All good? Not so fast. The busy-body food police (gestapo?) are using “climate change” as a pretext to regulate your preferences at the dinner table.

DeSmog Weighs In

At DeSmog, Rachel Sherrington recently criticized the U.S. beef industry for … acting in the interest of its investors and consumers. (Imagine that!) Her article “U.S. Meat Lobby Celebrates ‘Positive Outcome’ of COP28“, subtitled: “Industry leaders praise UN food and climate plan as ‘music to our ears’.”

Dodging climate politics to cater to consumers deserves a hurray. But Sherrington sees the good as bad. She reports how the climate complex was outmaneuvered by the the beefers:

Lobbyists for the world’s biggest meat companies have lauded a better than expected outcome at COP28, which they say left them “excited” and “enthusiastic” for their industry’s prospects…. Campaigners and climate scientists had hoped the summit – which was billed as a “Food COP” due to its focus on farming – would see governments agree to ambitious action to transform food systems in line with the goals of the Paris climate agreement.

It has been a long failure.

Like Kyoto in 1997 and Paris in 2005, the thrill is gone. But while more than 130 governments pledged to tackle agriculture’s carbon footprint, a slew of announcements and initiatives failed to set binding targets, or to broach the question of reducing herds of ruminant livestock such as cattle and sheep, which are agriculture’s largest driver of emissions….

Outcomes at the summit were characterised as “a far more positive outcome than we had anticipated” by Constance Cullman, the president of the Animal Feed Industry Association (AFIA) – a US lobby group whose members include some of the world’s biggest meat and animal feed producers.

The good news for consumers and the industry was a disappointment to the vegetarian ilk.

Academics described the FAO report’s failure to recommend cuts to meat-eating as “bewildering” in a March submission to the journal Nature Food. According to a March paper, which surveyed more than 200 environmental and agricultural scientists, meat and dairy production must be drastically reduced – and fast – to align with the Paris Agreement.

The report concludes that global emissions from livestock production need to decline by 50 percent during the next six years, with “high-producing and consuming nations” taking the lead….

The meat industry took the moral high ground, illustrative of what the fossil fuel industries need to do.

Another industry panellist, Eric Mittenthal, had attended COP28 on behalf of lobby group the Meat Institute (formerly the North American Meat Institute, or NAMI) … stressed the importance of sharing the message that animal agriculture is necessary for nutrition and sustainability.

The Meat Institute, which runs an initiative called the ProteinPACT, represents hundreds of corporations in the meat supply chain, including the meat sector’s three largest companies, JBS, Cargill and Tyson, which together have emissions equal to oil majors Shell or BP.

And yes, the meat and dairy industries were keen to protect their industries and seize the moral high ground with common-sense

The number of lobbyists for big meat and dairy companies tripled at COP28 as revealed by DeSmog and the Guardian, amid rising scrutiny of the food sector’s climate impacts….

It was not supposed to happen this way to the anti-beefers.

COP28 had promised to accelerate action on food systems transformation, but campaigners and experts said its declarations and reports fell far short of what climate science says is needed. On the second day of the summit, the leaders’ declaration on sustainable food systems, which was signed by more than 130 countries, committed to food systems transformation. 

Sounds good to me…. The meat industry deserves kudos for their frontal, honest messaging against political threats to human betterment. Sherrington describes just this.

The meat lobbyists, whose industry enjoyed many routes to influence at the summit, also celebrated the cut-through of their message that industrial animal agriculture has an important role to play in addressing global hunger….

Key messages around hunger were a pillar of the meat industry’s COP28 PR plans, which primed its attendees to target decision-makers with the idea that “meat plays a key role in reducing food insecurity”. While an estimated 828 million people go hungry, experts say that nourishing the planet will involve addressing issues of power, access and distribution, rather than a blanket increase in food production….

Sherrington’s article ends by sharing the meat industry’s perspective, a good one.

Mittenthal stressed that industry’s voice at COPs was “critical” given that some summit attendees were “not representing the science or the reality on the ground”. Asked about the year ahead, [Cullman] said: “We need to jump into that and make sure that we don’t take the pressure off of communicating the incredible work that’s been done for decades and continues to be done. “The short answer is: not take the foot off the gas pedal – we’ve got to keep pushing.”

Keep pushing indeed. Keep government out of the dining room, public and private.

One Comment for “Big Ag, not Only Big Oil, on the ‘Climate Change’ Menu”

  1. Don B  

    The war on methane allows activists to attack both meat and fossil fuels.

    Something which I have never seen in general circulation media is the important fact about methane – there is not much of it.

    Methane is 2/10,000 of 1% of the atmosphere. Its greenhouse effect is only about 1% of the total greenhouse effect.

    ( I can email you a page from Javier Vinos’s “Solving the Climate Puzzle” book, which gives those numbers.)


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