President Joe Biden says the United States is joining forces with the European Union and other partners to launch a Global Methane Pledge to reduce global methane emissions by at least 30% below 2020 levels by 2030. Livestock groups were quick to caution that they’re ready to help reach the goal by building on industry efforts underway, but also government regulatory changes are needed to incentivize, not mandate, changes.
The administration has not announced any policies or directives to restrict beef consumption in the United States, but groups hope to get out in front of any calls for major changes to livestock production.
Cattle emit methane when they digest their food. This happens due to the cow’s specialized ruminant digestive system, which allows cattle to consume grasses which grow on marginal land that would be otherwise unusable for growing food. The gas breaks down in the atmosphere in 9-12 years, is sequestered in soil and grasses, and then consumed by ruminant animals as part of a natural grazing cycle.