Byron man's beef with PETA
BYRON Bay-based organic grazier Quentin Wright has hit back at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) over its challenge to the Byron Shire to proclaim one day a week a ‘vegetarian day’ to help combat climate change.
“I’m happy to go vegetarian for one day a week if they promise to eat meat one day a week too,” he laughed.
Mr Wright owns 1400 hectares of certified organic grazing land near Armidale and believes PETA’s argument is flawed as it is based on research that ignores the full role of livestock in the carbon cycle – particularly carbon soil sequestration through good pasture management.
PETA referred to a recent United Nations report claiming meat production was responsible for 40 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes and ships combined.
“I’m only a farmer, but I have to question where some of these calculations start and stop,” he said.
“Are they accounting for all aspects of different forms of food production?”
Mr Wright questioned whether the UN report included the carbon effect of transport and machinery use in agriculture and horticulture, and whether the meat production figures allowed for the carbon benefits of good pasture management.
Mr Wright stopped using chemical fertilisers and changed to ‘cell grazing’ more than 15 years ago.
Soil tests on his property now show 66 per cent more organic matter (carbon) in his soil compared with the adjoining national park.
“This suggests to me we have a production system in place that sequesters soil carbon, going some way to balancing our carbon footprint,” he said.
“This form of grazing encourages and supports soil microbes increasing soil carbon levels.”
Mr Wright said essential ingredients to a successful cell grazing system were adequate rest between grazing to allow full plant recovery (roots and leaves), and matching stocking rates to carrying capacity.