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Cradle-to-Gate Life Cycle Assessment of Regionally Produced Beef in the Northwestern U.S.

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Transactions of the ASABE. 57(3): 927-935. (doi: 10.13031/trans.57.10498) @2014
Authors:   Daniel J. Roop, Dev S. Shrestha, Darin A. Saul, Soren M. Newman
Keywords:   Beef, GHG, Ranches, Small farms.

This article presents a life cycle assessment (LCA) performed on a regional beef production system. The analysis includes data for a cow-calf operation, six animal feeding operations, and a beef processing operation within the Pacific Northwest region consisting of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana, western Wyoming, northern California, northern Nevada, and southern British Columbia. The objective of this study was to determine the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with beef production on a regional scale in the identified area. This analysis was important for determining the comparative sustainability of beef production methods in the Pacific Northwest. The LCA defined the GHG emissions associated with two separate functional units from two distinct system boundaries. System boundary 1 (SB1) delineates a cradle-to-feedlot-gate analysis of the system and has a functional unit of 1 kg of live weight (LW) beef production. System boundary 2 (SB2) defines a cradle-to-processing-gate analysis of the system and has a functional unit of 1 kg of packaged beef. These estimates are used as indicators of the environmental burden of the given system in the given region. Total emissions from SB1 and SB2 were found to be 10.40 ±0.48 kg CO2e kg-1 LW and 18.75 ±0.86 kg CO2e kg-1 beef, respectively.

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