Videos turn spotlight on grasslands

Manitoba Beef Producers has made two videos to help the public understand the importance of beef production to grassland and wildlife preservation.

The short videos, shot last year, were shown recently at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon and helped to generate a good panel discussion, said Carson Callum, the group’s general manager.

One of them was filmed near Pipestone in a pasture belonging to Gord Adams, who lives near Deloraine. It features Christian Artuso, a scientist whom Adams calls “the bird man.” Artuso talks about the linkage between beef production, grassland preservation and birds, such as the Sprague’s pipit and various hawks.

The videos come at a time when non-beef burgers at fast-food chains are on the increase, and when beef production is blamed, unfairly, producers say, for contributing to global warming. They also come at a time when grassland acreage is declining as the land transitions to other uses, Callum said.

The videos, which he said have no titles, were accompanied at Ag Days by a video produced by the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association called Guardians of the Grasslands.

“The preservation of those grasslands really provides critical habitat for species at risk,” Callum said. “Beef production is allowing a lot of that grassland to still be maintained.”

Grasslands sequester carbon and help to reduce the greenhouse gas effect, he said, as well as contributing to biodiversity and being part of prairie heritage.

The public needs to understand that beef production in general isn’t detrimental to the environment, Callum said, noting that deforestation in places like Brazil for farming is sometimes confused with the positive methods used here.

Adams, who represents MBP’s District 1, said Artuso initially had a negative view of cattle farming but realized, after conducting studies, “that if the habitat wasn’t there, the birds would be lost.”

The videos will be shown at various events this year, such as the Red River Exhibition.

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