US Animal Production

Meat Society: Number 4 in a series exploring issues related to curbing demand for animal products, an important climate change solution for individuals and nations alike, especially in Western states where meat and diary consumption dwarfs other regions.

Excerpt from Meat Climate Change: The 2nd Leading Cause of Global Warming by Moses Seenarine, (2016). Xpyr Press, 348 pages ISBN: 0692641157)

The US consumes the most livestock products globally, with each American eating an average 125 kg (275 lb) of animal flesh a year – equivalent to over 400 sirloin steaks from cows.(537) Flesh intake is 75 pounds higher than a century ago. Even if the average American eats 20 percent less carcass in 2050 than in 2000, the total US animal consumption will still be 5 million tons greater in 2050, due to population growth.(538)

In addition to animal flesh, Americans ingests 33 pounds of cheese and nearly 60 pounds of added fats and oils. Animal products account for over half of the value of US agricultural products, often exceeding $100 billion per year. Consumption of cheese has spiraled upward and added oils have escalated, too. 

The US has the largest fed-cattle industry in the world and is one of the world's largest producer of cow carcass, primarily grain-fed cows for domestic and export use. In 2013, 25,720 million pounds of cow flesh was produced, compared to 23,048 million pounds in 1993, and 22,986 million pounds in 1983. On top of this, the US is a net importer of cow carcass, purchasing lower-value, grass-fed cows for processing.(539)

In the US, the value of cow's milk production is second only to cow flesh among livestock industries, and is equal to the corn industry. In 2013, 201 billion pounds of milk were produced from cows, compared to 151 billion pounds in 1993, and 138 billion pounds in 1983. Since 1970, milk production has risen by almost half, even as milk cow numbers have declined by a fourth, from 12 million in 1970, to 9 million in 2007. This was possible because milk production per cow has nearly doubled, from 9,700 pounds in 1970 to 19,000 pounds in 2007.

Remarkably, the number of cow's milk operations in the US declined from 650,000 in 1970, to 90,000 in the early 2000s. Over the same period, the average herd size multiplied five-fold, from 20 cows to 100 cows. This shows the industry is becoming over intensive and concentrated.

The US is the world's largest producer and second-largest exporter of bird carcass. It is a major chicken egg producer as well. US consumption of poultry, from chicken and turkey, is considerably higher than cow carcass or pig flesh, but less than total red meat consumption. In 2013, 37.8 billion pounds of broiler chicken flesh and 8 billion dozen chicken eggs were produced. This is considerably higher that the 22.1 billion pounds of chicken carcass and 5.9 billion dozen eggs produced in 1993, and the 12.3 billion pounds of carcass and 5.6 billion dozen eggs produced in 1983. Additionally, in 2013, 5.8 billion pounds of turkey carcass was produced, compared to 4.8 billion pounds in 1993, and 2.5 billion pounds in 1983. Around 18% of US chicken production was exported.

The US is the world's third-largest producer and consumer of pigs and pig products. On top of that, the US is the world's largest exporter of pigs and pig products, with exports averaging over 20 percent. In 2013, around 23.1 billion pounds of flesh was produced from pigs, compared to 16.9 billion pounds in 1993, and 15.1 billion pounds in 1983. During the last two decades, the value of US aquaculture production rose to nearly $1 billion, but it still remains a small part of global production. The vast majority of animal production from this sector comes from Asia and Latin America. 

Chapter 14, DIET OR POPULATION? pages 140-141

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