ROGER CADY, Elanco Animal Health, points out that the most sustainable system is not always the smallest. It is necessary to maintain the right perspective when evaluating which type of livestock production system can feed a hungry world with the least impact on the environment.

Speaking recently at the University of Minnesota, Cady asked the audience which vehicle would be the most environmentally friendly: a Toyota Prius, or a city bus. While the majority of audience members raised their hands to vote for the Prius, Cady proceeded to demonstrate that the Prius can haul only a small number of people to their destination, while a bus carries so many more people that it actually saves more fuel. Small is not necessarily more efficient when the focus is on moving the most people for the least amount of fuel.

He then transferred the concept to agriculture. “It is essential to assess the impact, or carbon footprint, per unit of output rather than per unit of the production process,” he explains. “We've got to feed the people.” — Lora Berg