The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said Tuesday that cattle production in the United States is at its lowest level in decades, underscoring the severity of the drought.
U.F.O. officials say the record-low levels are consistent with a growing trend of cattle being released into wild herds.
The agency said in a statement that it “has seen an increasing trend of releases into wild populations, and is concerned that the increased release of cattle from their feedlot systems into local and regional environments could have implications for food security and conservation.”
The agency noted that the cattle released into feedlots were “often reared on less productive land.”
“In light of this situation, the agency urges the federal government to consider the need for more robust, sustained and coordinated efforts to ensure adequate and sustainable food security for all people,” the statement said.
“The food security situation for many people in the U.M. is being exacerbated by the overuse and overfishing of cattle, and the rapid growth of livestock and the resulting depletion of natural resources in the world’s largest cattle producing countries.”
The U and L groups that represent the U, Texas and Mexico cattle industry groups have expressed concerns that the recent releases into feedlot herds may threaten the ability of the cattle to survive in the wild.
“As the UFWF is still evaluating the potential impact of releases, we need to see how this impacts the survival of livestock in the long-term,” said the American Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which represents the L.L. Bean and L.R. Bean companies.
The L. Bean company and its subsidiary Cattlemens’ Beef said in statements that they “are working to determine the impact of the recent feedlot releases and will share any findings with the UFPO as soon as possible.”
The cattle industry is also working with the Agriculture Department to “assess the impacts on grazing land, water resources, water quality, and other critical areas,” the groups said.