Large-scale and subsistence cattle farming have been identified as the main causes of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. Government subsidies for large scale farming in colonial projects contributed greatly to the clearing of rainforest for the making of pasture for cattle as well as the cutting and burning of forest for the production of pasture by small-scale farmers there as indicated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
This video by AlJazeera English shows ‘’opening of the forest’’ in Brazil to maximize profit in the beef industry
Beef farming is rapidly growing in both developed and developing countries and is characterized by commercial and subsistence farming. Commercial beef cattle farming is large scale farming primarily for economic reasons such as maximizing profit. Financial investment and technological improvement are the bedrock of commercial farming. Large-scale cattle-grazing can be challenging as natural grass soon runs out and farmers then need to depend on other feeding methods such as grains to feed animals. Commercial farming is generally capital intensive.
On the other hand, traditional or subsistence beef cattle farming uses old methods of rearing cattle mainly for the farmer and his family’s consumption, though excess beef products are sold for profit. Family farming is commonly practiced with the subsistence farming method where family members including children participate willingly or otherwise in cattle herding. According to the FAO, subsistence farming also involves the exploitation of extensive grasslands by farmers where herds move between grazing areas according to season, some move according to temperature and others follow feed availability.
An example of subsistence beef farming in Wisconsin
Braziloperates commercial, large-scale and traditional subsistence beef farming and is currently one of the biggest producers and exporters of beef globally. At present approximately 600,000 square kilometers or 15 percent of Brazilian Amazon has been deforested as a result of beef farming according to the FAO. Agriculture generally plays a major role in the economy of the country. In the pastBrazil was known for its Amazon forest which is gradually disappearing mostly due to cattle farming.
Across the globe and in the Netherlands, most commercial and subsistence beef cattle farmers are conscious of conserving the environment by farming in sustainable ways. Organic farming is free of intensive measures which include the use of pesticides for feed to ensure the beef is of good quality. Exports of beef from the Netherlands are mostly to other European countries such as Germany. The advantage of natural beef farming is the competitive advantage these farmers have over other beef farmers including consumer awareness about the benefits of eating organic food.
Image: Nick Saltmarsh (CC License)< Back