Population growth is, of course, partly responsible, but so is growing affluence, which, especially in India and China, is increasing the demand for meat. It takes 8lb of grain in feed, for example, to produce 1lb of beef.
This is one of those minor Americanisms that really irritates me.
It is true that if you grow a cow on a feed lot then you get that 8:1 ratio.
However, if you grow a cow on pasture then you get a ratio more like 0:1.
And there\’s an awful lot of pasture out there that cannot be ploughed up to grow grain but is just great at growing grass for cows to eat.
And while this isn\’t entirely true it is generally so: lots of American cows are on feed lots, few European ones. So why do we keep quoting this American number when it\’s simply not true for us here?