Incentives and Barriers
February 7, 2023
Ranching sustainably takes more effort because ranchers have to move the cattle frequently and provide supplemental minerals for their diets. Not all customers will pay a higher price for sustainable food.
“The kind of extra care that goes into raising animals the way that we would leads to a higher cost of beef. Not everybody really pays attention to where their food comes from, or they maybe don’t care,” Millet said.
This creates added difficulty for ranchers in finding a consumer base that cares about where their food comes from.
Some ranchers just need more resources or knowledge to start ranching sustainably, and the government’s resources aren’t adequate, according to Creque.
“California doesn’t fund their conservation districts, so they aren’t fully staffed with folks with all the necessary skills,” Creque said.
Ranchers who might lack resources or knowledge but desire to be sustainable can turn to organizations such as the CCI. The CCI works with farmers and ranchers to create a Carbon Farm Plan for their land. These plans aim to institute management practices that increase the carbon capture of the land.
“When we talk about increasing carbon capture in the landscape, we’re really talking about increasing the energy content of our farm systems. And that enables all kinds of things, including increases in biodiversity, increases in productivity, and increases in resilience to climate change,” Creque said.
Some people will not change how they manage their land because of natural resistance to change.
“Human beings don’t like to change. We fear that this isn’t really an opportunity. We’re going to lose cultural value. We may lose money. We’re afraid of that. But that’s not helpful,” Joe Morris said.
Proponents of sustainable ranching feel that ranching must be done in a sustainable way to prevent the land from becoming so degraded that it is unusable in the future.
“It’s more profitable to manage a ranch sustainably because the cattle gain weight better, and when you take care of the land, you have a crop of grass next year to keep your business going,” Julie Morris said.
The essential focus of sustainable ranching is right in the name. The practice must be sustainable for the rancher, the cattle, and the environment.
“We’ve only got one planet, and for those who are in the fortunate position to be responsible for taking care of a piece of land, I think it’s more or less obligatory that they ensure that landscape is passed on in good condition,” Creque said.