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Ask a Producer About Earth Day

Laura M. Lickley
Jerome, Idaho

Earth Day is a way of life for American beef producers. The land is not only our livelihood, but also our legacy. My husband Bill and I are the fourth generation of Lickley ranchers and we hope the tradition continues with our children. Every day we strive to pass on our knowledge and experience of caring for the environment. 

In celebration of Earth Day April 22, I invite you to ask me questions about our commitment to feeding the world in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way. My family works for a greener future every day, and I’d love to tell you more about it. Every day is Earth Day for those of us that live and work on the land. 

Have a question about Earth Day? Ask a new question and we will post Laura’s answer.

More about Laura

Laura Lickley was born to a ranching family in rural Salmon, Idaho. She graduated from Salmon High School 1986 and went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from the University of Idaho in 1990.

The Lickley ranch, located in Jerome, Idaho, was homesteaded in 1908 and will be recognized this year as a century ranch. Her family raises several hundred head of cattle for their commercial operation. They background and feed cattle on the ranch, which means their animals graze on both public and private lands year round before they are moved to the Lickley’s small feedlot where they receive a carefully balanced grain diet.

Laura was the 2004 Idaho CattleWoman of the year; she currently serves on the Beef Promotion and Operating Committee, which authorizes the programs administered by the industry’s Beef Checkoff Program; and she has held a number of other industry leadership roles nationally and in Idaho. Her hobbies include cooking, team roping, reading and assisting her children in their 4-H and rodeo endeavors.

Recent Inquiries:

Emily B writes: My son is in 7th grade. His science teacher told him during an Earth Day class that cows are creating poor air quality and destroying the ozone layer with methane gasses. The teacher suggested eating a vegetarian meal twice a week to help the environment. What can you tell me about this?

Thanks for you question Emily. This is an issue I really care about, because recently, there have been a number of claims about cattle being destructive to the environment. What a lot of people don’t know is that here in the United States, we’re significantly ahead of the world in managing livestock production in an environmentally friendly manner.

You asked about methane, which is a greenhouse gas. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, production of food animals in the United States isn’t a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, the largest source of methane emission in the United States are landfills and natural gas systems, not cattle, and most greenhouse gas emission come from fossil fuel combustion, like the kind from driving your car.

There are a lot of things everyone can do to help the environment, whether they live in the city or on a ranch. Living so close to the land every day, I know how important it is to be a good steward of this planet, and I’m committed to leaving it in better condition for my children and future generations of my family. On our ranch, we carefully manage our cattle because we know good grazing practices stabilize the soil and promote growth of beneficial grasses while protecting against erosion and forest fires. Our ranch also provides an important habitat for wildlife.

It sounds like you and your son want to make a difference for the environment too. EPA has a great Web site with tips for saving energy, using water efficiently, recycling and making environmentally protective choices. If we all take responsibility and do what we can for the environment, we’ll be providing a greener future for our children and their families.