Excerpts from the book: Beyond Beef
(Beyond Beef by Jeremy Rifkin, copyright 1992, by Dutton Publishing Co.)

Unbeknown to many people, perhaps especially Americans, cattle raising today has a far bigger impact on the ecology than most people realize. In his book: Beyond Beef, Jeremy Rifkin points out some facts about this often overlooked part of the ecology equation. Below are many well-researched facts pertaining to this sometimes controversial issue.

p.1 "They [cattle] take up nearly 24% of the landmass of the planet."
"Cattle herding is responsible for much of the spreading desertification in the sub-Sahara [region] of Africa and the western rangeland of the United States and Australia. The overgrazing of semi-arid and arid lands has left parched and barren deserts on four continents."

p.2 "Beyond Beef is the story of a unique relationship forged between human beings and cattle over the millennia of history."

p.12 "Calves enjoy a short reprieve and are allowed to run with their mothers for 6 to 11 months on the open range before being transported to the giant mechanized feedlots where they are fattened up and readied for slaughter. There are some 42,000 feedlots in 13 major cattle-raising states. The 200 largest lots feed nearly half the cattle in the United States.

p.158 "In Africa, the Near East, and Latin America, food production per person is lower today than at the beginning of the decade." A number of environmental factors contributed to the agricultural crisis in the 1980s. They include: "eroding soils; shrinking forests; deteriorating rangelands; expanding deserts; acid rain; stratospheric ozone depletion; the buildup of greenhouse gases; air pollution; and the loss of biological diversity."

p.186 "Cattle grazing is a primary cause of the spreading desertification process that is now enveloping whole continents. Cattle ranching is responsible for the destruction of much of the Earth's remaining tropical rainforests."

p.200 "Desertification is caused by: overgrazing of livestock; over-cultivation of the land; deforestation; and improper irrigation techniques. Cattle production is a primary factor in all four cases of desertification. The United Nations estimates that 29% of the Earth's landmass now suffers 'slight, moderate or severe desertification'. Each year nearly 1.5 million acres of land around the world are virtually lost to the desertification process. An additional 52 million acres become so eroded that they can no longer be grazed or cultivated. By the turn of the century, over half of humanity will live in urban areas."
"Not surprisingly, the regions most affected by desertification are all cattle-producing areas and include: the western half of the United States; Central and South Americas; Australia; and sub-Saharan Africa."
"Today the billion or more cattle on the planet are over-grazing and trampling native and artificial grasses, stripping much of the vegetative cover of the Earth's remaining grasslands."

p.202 "More than 60% of the world's rangeland has been damaged by overgrazing in the course of the last half-century."

p.207 BLM: 252 million pounds of herbage are allotted to livestock and 8 million pounds are allotted to wild animals (in Oregon).

p.211 The President's Council on Environmental Quality, in the 1980s reported, among other things, that, "the overall land area affected by desertification in North America is surprisingly large", and that overgrazing "has become the most potent desertification force, in terms of total acreage affected within the United States."

In a 1991 United Nations report by Harold Dregne, professor of soil science at Texas Tech University, he estimates that 430 million acres in the western U.S. are suffering a 25-50% reduction in yield, again, "primarily because of the overgrazing of cattle."
"Despite warnings, even from government agencies, the environmental community and the American public, they [cattle ranchers] have been slow to react to what may be shaping up as an environmental catastrophe."
"Writing in the magazine, ?Audobon', Philip Fradkin summed up the dimensions of the crisis on our western lands -- a crisis that has, up to now -- remained among the best-kept environmental secrets in the country: ?The impact of countless hooves and mouths, over the years, has done more to alter the type of vegetation and land forms of the West than all the water projects, strip mines, power plants, freeways and subdivision developments combined.'

p.213 "Nowhere is the problem of overgrazing more severe than in Africa, where millions of acres of rangeland are being swallowed up each year -- making desertification the single greatest threat to the ecology of the continent and the survivability of its human population."
"Over 50% of the surface area of East Africa is given over to the grazing of some 23 million head of cattle."

p.215 "There are now 186,000,000 cattle grazing on the African continent, or one cow for every 3 people."

p.217 "The modern cattle complex is destroying many regions of the African continent. This rich landmass that just 100 years ago was teeming with wildlife, lush vegetation, dense forest and ancient savannahs, is now turning into one of the world's most desertified regions. It's land is eroded and stripped bare of flora and fauna from overgrazing."
"The Sahel is literally blowing away under the weight and force of millions of ?hoofed locusts', relentlessly devouring everything in their path on their trek across the grassland."

p.220 "In California, where 42% of the irrigation water goes to produce feed grain or drinking water for cattle and other livestock, water tables have dropped so low that the earth itself is sinking under the vacuum. Some 5,000 square miles of the San Joaquin Valley have sunk, in some places as much as 29 feet."
"Western cattle ranchers have long enjoyed privileged access to local water resources. Early on, cattlemen made sure to set up their operations near streams and rivers so they could meet their water needs first. Control over ?water rights' helped provide cattlemen with the necessary economic and political clout to dictate rangeland use. Now, many of the streams and rivers that cross cattle country have dried up altogether, or flow only intermittently, as a result of overgrazing, soil erosion, and desertification."
"Unfortunately, existing federal laws encourage ranchers and farmers to pump more and more water from underground aquifers...Over half the cost of providing irrigation facilities in the U.S., has been borne by the federal government, in effect, subsidizing ranchers and farmers from public funds."

p.233 "If we were to stop for a moment and reflect on the number of creatures, Earth's resources, and the materials we have expropriated and consumed in our lifetime, we would be appalled at the carnage and depletion that has been required to secure our existence."