Dennis Sun: Agriculture Becomes The Scapegoat

Columnist Dennis Sun writes, "Some studies say agriculture is responsible for 11% of Earth’s pollution. We wonder why they are pointing their finger at ag while there is 89% left to share the blame."

Dennis Sun

March 29, 20243 min read

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Here at the Roundup office and across the state at our editors’ desks, we receive a huge amount of agriculture news, which is good. But lately, the news we’ve been getting out of Washington, D.C. is not so good for our industry.

We try to be positive and look for news placing agriculture in a good light and information to help our readers on their operations. We also want to reach non-ag readers and assure them the food our industry provides is the safest and most nutritious in the world.

It is quite the balancing act for us, but one we are proud to deliver.

It is really disheartening to read agency reports from Washington, D.C. every day, telling us of more restrictions being forced on our lives and limiting agriculture production across the nation.

As we have noticed first-hand, the West is taking the hardest hit, as it seems half of the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. are experts in managing arid lands, wildlife and livestock from their offices.

Taking The Blame

We’re being blamed for climate change, pollution and all of the ice they think is disappearing from the planet. Activists are the scientists of today.

I recently read an article titled “What Would Happen If Everyone Suddenly Stopped Eating Meat.”

This MSN article really blasts “beef guzzling” countries like the U.S., as they think cows are the worst polluters on the planet.

Some studies say agriculture is responsible for 11% of Earth’s pollution. We wonder why they are pointing their finger at ag while there is 89% left to share the blame.

Cattle Are Critical

We realize cattle are responsible for approximately two percent of pollution and are working to lower this number, but grazing animals – including elk, bison and other ruminants – help sequester carbon into the ground with proper grazing. Which is good.

But, what would happen if everyone actually stopped eating meat tomorrow?

“It would have huge consequences – a lot of them probably not anticipated,” said Keith Wiebe, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute. “Such a quick shift probably wouldn’t cause the sort of turmoil which would come if the planet immediately ditched fossil fuels. But still, the upshot could be tumultuous, upending economies, leaving people jobless and threatening food security in places which don’t have many nutritious alternatives.”

I’ve read where livestock accounts for about 40% of agriculture production in rich countries and 20% in low-income countries, and it is vital economically and nutritionally to the lives of 1.3 billion people across the world, according to the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization.

One-third of the protein and nearly one-fifth of the calories people eat around the world come from animals.

I wonder why the UN is telling us this and then telling everyone to get rid of cattle? If we have to get rid of our cattle, sheep and goats, then India needs to get rid of their water buffalo and Yellowstone National Park needs to get rid of their bison.

I think a lot of those opposed to livestock production and eating meat belong to extreme animal rights groups which raise millions of dollars annually to just fund their top people. Agriculture is just the scapegoat.

Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available online and in print. To subscribe, visit or call 800-967-1647.

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Dennis Sun

Agriculture Columnist