There has been alot of news lately about carbon footprints of various food items. Notably, cows have gotten a bad rap from many different sources. For example, see the discussion where eating beef is worse than driving.
Before trying to convince everyone to become a vegan we need to think about the different methods of raising cows. Cows on well-managed pasture are a far different product than cows being fed grain in a large feedlot. Pastured cows burp less, and if the pasture is managed properly, the cows can enhance soil fertility and stimulate plant growth, which will then form carbon-sinks. There has been little research in the area concerning carbon emissions utilizing different methods of animal production.
Lets start by looking at our farm policy of subsidizing corn, which is currently used for soft-drinks, creating a fuel-source which uses as much energy as it produces, and fattening cows in feed lots. How about subsidizing farmers to switch to management intensive grazing (where animals are used to enhance pasture growth) and expanding the utilization of the Conservation Reserve Program (to keep livestock out of creeks). How about carbon credits to farmers that build soil organic matter?