Brought to you by The Regenerative Agriculture Alliance.
In my previous two articles, I've spoken about the benefits of animal agriculture, with a focus on animal health and its capacity to create resilient carbon-capturing landscapes.
However, in this final part of the story, I feel it is important to make a distinct link between soil health, plant health, animal health and human health.
Consumers are so often removed from soil that they don't understand the significance of this link, referred to as a chain of health.
The complex micro-organisms that are in soil transfer to our gut biome through plants and animals to give us our immunity to major diseases.
Organic food consumption
In other words, in the gut they form an army against major disease and fight hard to keep us healthy.
In believing we can produce food without soil (eg lab meat, hydroponics) or replicate the complexity of our soil fauna and microbial life - our health is on a slippery, degenerative slope.
International studies such as that of Professor Carlo Leifert's at the Centre for Organic Research, based out of Southern Cross University, highlight the reduction in obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer rates associated with organic food consumption.
What is significant about this international study is that it included nearly 69,000 participants.
What it showed was up to 60 per cent less incurrence of obesity and 80 per cent less incurrence of breast cancers and lymphoma type cancers as well as many other autoimmune outcomes.
It's important to note that these results were not achieved through alternative protein sources but through produce grown from real soil without chemical interference.
The Omega 3 story
Perhaps the biggest opportunity for animal production systems - particularly grass-fed beef and lamb - is that of the Omega 3 story.
Again, involving Professor Carlo's international studies which found high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, pure unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and carotenoids in grass-fed meat.
These studies compared to livestock raised on grain such as maize, soy and corn being high in Omega 6's.
Seldom do we hear the praises of grass-fed livestock being so high in Omega 3's known to offer enormous health benefits to humans.
When teenagers become vegetarians, often their health suffers as they don't know how to get the same quality of protein and properly balance their diets with alternative protein sources.
Their mental health and energy levels can be adversely impacted.
The future of animal agriculture
Perhaps we should ask ourselves the questions, how do we reduce food waste (currently at 40 per cent of what we produce) which contributes to greenhouse gases and CO2 emissions, and produce quality food for human consumption and survival whilst meeting the expectations of future generations?
As a concerned citizen, farmer and mother, I do believe the future of animal agriculture is a bright one - if we embrace change.
Otherwise we will be left with degraded landscapes that are unable to make an economic return and sustain families.
We already have the tools and knowledge to farm in this new era of uncertainty and adjust our management systems for resilience.
As carbon sequesters, livestock producers are an essential part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
As such, there will always be a place for intensive livestock systems that embrace new technology and management, meet animal welfare expectations and showcase good practice.