Environmental impacts of beef: water use

Including direct consumption by cattle, irrigation of pastures and crops, and carcass processing, it can take as much as 3,682 litres of water to produce 1 kg of boneless beef in the United States1.
In addition to total water use, there is increasing concern about water pollution, especially the harmful effects of pesticides – used to maintain or improve pasture areas or to increase feed grain production – on surface water and groundwater quality.

In addition to contaminating waterways, groundwater, and even marine environments, those who use pesticides and live in rural areas tend to contaminate not only the water supplies of their own livestock operations and those of their neighbours, but also their own water supplies.

Many people living on farms in the United States cannot safely drink their own well water.

1. Dr. Jim Oltjen, University of California at Davis and Dr. Jon Beckett, formerly of University of California at Davis

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