Frank Mitloehner

Frank Mitloehner

Credentials

Background

Frank Mitloehner is a professor in the Department of Animal Science, and a “Cooperative Extension Air Quality Specialist,” at the University of California, Davis.5CLEAR Center. “Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D,” CLEAR Center. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lqqWH 

Mitloehner is the founder and director of the Clarity and Leadership for Environmental Awareness and Research Center (CLEAR Center) at UC Davis.6CLEAR Center. “Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D,” CLEAR Center. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lqqWH 

The CLEAR Center has published research and white papers detailing how the animal agriculture industry can reach net zero emissions7Frank Mitloehner and Sarah E. Place. “The U.S. Beef And Dairy Sectors Can Be Climate Neutral by 2050 – But How?,” CLEAR Center, September 14, 2021. Archived August 6, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/HO3Zr and why methane’s estimated climate impact should be reduced in line with the GWP* method for quantifying the warming effects of greenhouse gasses.8CLEAR Center. “CLEAR Center Director Frank Mitloehner Speaks with Irish Oireachtas Committee on Methane,” CLEAR Center, June 20, 2022. Archived July 21, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/RWW11 

While Mitloehner regularly speaks about climate change and has written about the climate impact of burning fossil fuels,9Frank Mitloehner. “Big oil distracts from their carbon footprint by tricking you to focus on yours,” CLEAR Center, October 16, 2020. Archived October 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JImhW he often argues that animal agriculture is a leading industry in applying emissions reduction practices and technologies,10Frank Mitloehner. “Why methane from cattle warms the climate differently than CO2 from fossil fuels,” CLEAR Center, July 7, 2020. Archived October 6, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/mJ69T and that livestock production can contribute to a reduction of methane – one of the most potent greenhouse gasses – in the atmosphere.11Rethinking Methane,” YouTube video uploaded by user CLEAR Center at UC Davis, July 14, 2020. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 

Mitloehner and the CLEAR Center have received nearly $12.5 million in funding from 2002 – 2021, from government agencies including the US Department of Agriculture and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), animal agriculture think tanks and trade associations including the Center for Food Integrity and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), and animal livestock companies including Ely Lilly/ELANCO.

According to internal University of California documents obtained by Unearthed and reviewed by The New York Times,12Zach Boren. “Revealed: How the livestock industry funds the ‘greenhouse gas guru’,Unearthed, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/w9hKo the CLEAR Center receives nearly all of its funding from the animal agriculture industry, and has worked with industry representatives to coordinate communication priorities and strategies.13Hiroko Tabuchi. “He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show.,” The New York Times, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/j6pzt

Mitloehner is active on Twitter, regularly sharing news stories about livestock’s contributions to climate change, opinions about vegetarianism14Retention rate: 84% of vegans & vegetarians stay with their respective diet for only one year. For every one active vegan/vegetarian, there are five former ones. Doesn’t seem like a particularly sustainable diet form to me.,” tweet from @GHGGuru, October 31, 2021. Archived February 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/cx9HO and plant-based foods,15Holding my breath to find out if the protein quality of these vegan alternatives is what their makers promise.,” tweet from @GHGGuru, September 23, 2022. Archived October 11, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/1v5sa thoughts on climate policy,16Misinformation like this will harm our Earth. Livestock emit GHGs – which we’re improving – but this egregious claim disregards the necessity to reduce GHGs from other sectors if we want to slow climate change. It’s a shameful attempt to use Earth Day to advance an agenda.,” tweet from @GHGGuru, April 22, 2022. Archived October 11, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/d11Au and findings from his research. 

Stance on Climate Change

July 20, 2022

In 2022 testimony about methane emissions from livestock before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine in the Houses of the Oireachtas, Ireland’s national parliament, Mitloehner spoke about animal agriculture’s role in contributing to climate change, saying:17Frank Mitloehner. “Testimony before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine, Houses of the Oireachtas,” July 20, 2022. Archived October 14, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

“Make no mistake, animal agriculture has indeed played a role in advancing atmospheric warming … not to the extent that other sectors such as transportation and energy have … but a role nonetheless. Furthermore, it can help to limit warming further.”

March 24, 2022

In a blog post on the CLEAR Center website, Mitloehner wrote that “U.S. ranchers produced 20% of the world’s beef last year with just 9% of the global beef herd,” calling ranchers’ production efficiency “the envy of the world.”18Frank Mitloehner. “When did beef become a four-letter word?,” CLEAR Center, March 24, 2022. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Qsoy7 

He continued: 

“Simply put, people want to eat animal-sourced foods – be that beef, chicken, pork or lamb. That choice doesn’t have to fly in the face of environmental responsibility. Climate solutions have to come to terms with it, though, and that means finding solutions that are more feasible than telling people what they can and cannot eat.

In the meantime, we need to curb climate change, and we need to feed a rapidly growing global population. Animal agriculture can help us do both, provided we lean into American efficiencies and the innovation already found here.”

October 16, 2020

In an October 2020 post about the climate impact of “big oil,” Mitloehner wrote:19Frank Mitloehner. “Big oil distracts from their carbon footprint by tricking you to focus on yours,” CLEAR Center, October 16, 2020. Archived October 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JImhW

“We must shift our energy sector away from fossil fuel, keeping geological carbon out of the atmosphere and in the ground where it’s been for millions of years, if we want to slow climate change. Fossil fuel industries would do well to find innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint, instead of pouring massive amounts of money into manipulating you and I.”

July 14, 2020

In a video for the CLEAR Center’s YouTube channel, about the biogenic carbon cycle, Mitloehner said that:20Rethinking Methane,” YouTube video uploaded by user CLEAR Center at UC Davis, July 14, 2020. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 

“…if we were to keep our herd size constant, then that would mean that the amount of methane produced by our livestock and the amount of methane destroyed [by the biogenic carbon cycle] balance each other out. Meaning no additional carbon added to the atmosphere, and that means no additional warming.”

Mitloehner also said in the video: 

“What gets me most excited is that if we reduce methane from let’s say cattle, then we are actively pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s almost as if you were to store atmospheric CO2 in the ground. If you reduce methane from cattle, you pull carbon out of the atmosphere, and that induces global cooling. Can it be done? It can be done, and it has been done.” 

May 21, 2019

In 2019 testimony before the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Mitloehner stated:21Frank Mitloehner. “Testimony before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, U.S. Senate,” U.S. Senate, May 21, 2019. Archived October 3, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

“There’s a notion that globally, livestock produces more greenhouse gasses (GHGs) leading to climate change than the entire transportation sector. This global comparison is then erroneously applied to the United States, and we are advised to eat less animal-source food (e.g., meat) to protect us from global warming and other environmental harm.” 

He added: “It’s staggering how many people continue to think that merely giving up meat – even once a week – will make a significant impact on their individual carbon footprints.”

Response to UN Livestock Report

Mitloehner and colleagues criticized Livestock’s Long Shadow, a 2006 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that attributed 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions to livestock.22Livestock, Environment and Development (LEAD) Initiative. “Livestock’s Long Shadow: Environmental Issues and Options,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2006. Archived September 8, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In a 2009 rebuttal article, Mitloehner – along with fellow University of California scientists Maurice Pitesky and Kimberly Stackhouse – contended that the report’s authors reached this conclusion by comparing the complete life cycle of the livestock sector’s carbon emissions to only the transportation sector’s tailpipe emissions.23Maurice Pitesky, Kimberly Stackhouse, Frank Mitloehner. “Chapter 1 – Clearing the Air: Livestock’s Contribution to Climate Change,” Advances in Agronomy, Volume 103, Pages 1-40, September 2009. Archived May 8, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/F8St8 

The article stated that “[Livestock’s Long Shadow] attempts a life cycle assessment for global livestock production but does not use an equally holistic approach for its transportation prediction numbers.”

In 2013, the authors of Livestock’s Long Shadow revised their 18 percent figure down to 14.5 percent, although the amount of absolute emissions attributed to livestock remained the same – about 7.1 gigatons a year.24Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. “Tackling Climate Change through Livestock: A global assessment of emissions and mitigation opportunities,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013. Archived September 26, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The American Meat Institute (AMI) and the American Meat Science Association (AMSA), two livestock industry trade associations and lobby groups, later cited Mitloehner, Pitelsky, and Stackhouse’s findings in a 2011 “Meat Mythcrushers” advertising campaign,25American Meat Association, American Meat Science Association. “About,” Meat Mythcrushers. Archived October 11, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fklCl with one video claiming to debunk the idea that livestock-based carbon emissions had “greater negative environmental impact than cars.”26American Meat Institute, American Meat Sciences Association. “Myth: Livestock Have a Greater Negative Environmental Impact than Cars,” Meat Mythcrushers. Archived January 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2lq8W 

In the video, a scientist stated that “on a [U.S.] national basis, all of animal [agriculture] accounts for about 3.4 percent of the total greenhouse gasses. Of that, cattle is only about 2.7 percent, so those claims really aren’t true.”27American Meat Institute, American Meat Sciences Association. “Myth: Livestock Have a Greater Negative Environmental Impact than Cars,” Meat Mythcrushers. Archived January 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2lq8W 28MYTH: Livestock Have a Greater Negative Environmental Impact Than Cars,” YouTube video uploaded by user MeatMythCrushers, December 5, 2011. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 

The ad misleadingly compared the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization’s global figures to data about the American livestock agriculture sector from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Mitloehner has continued speaking about the original FAO figures in recent years. Speaking on a 2020 podcast sponsored by Alltech, an animal nutrition and crop science company that gave Mitloehner a $45,000 grant in 2012 for a study on how different feed could reduce cattle methane emissions,29FRANK MITLOEHNER, PHD”. CLEAR Center, UC Davis. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived version on file at DeSmog. he said:30Alltech. “Dr. Frank Mitloehner – Livestock’s Environmental Impact: Misinformation about greenhouse gases,” Ag Future, July 27, 2020. Archived October 12, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6v8Fm

“Well, a lot of this originated in a 2006 publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and they made the claim that livestock produces more greenhouse gases than transportation. And that is very unfortunate because when such an authority makes such a claim, then it has a lot of credibility. However, I proved that this assertion was wrong and that they used different methodologies when they looked at the impact of livestock on climate versus those of transportation. And they actually corrected that and said, ‘Whoops, yeah, we were wrong, and we have gone back to the drawing board, and we now use the same methodology when comparing things.’ But the horse had left the barn, and all those critics of animal agriculture glued on to this and glommed on to this, and damage has been done. And so, now, many corporations are using the climate impact angle to either promote their own products or disparage the use of animal-source foods.”

Though more recent studies have reinforced the understanding that livestock contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions, Mitloehner continues to point to the methodology error in Livestock’s Long Shadow as evidence that beef’s reputation as a high emitter has been scientifically disproven.31Frank Mitloehner. “Testimony before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry U.S. Senate,” U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, May 21, 2019. Archived October 3, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Opposition to ‘Meatless Monday’ 

Mitloehner has voiced his opposition to “Meatless Monday,” an international public campaign started in 2003 by longtime advertising executive Sid Lerner (in association with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future)32Sid Lerner,” Columbia Mailman School of Public Health. Archived December 7, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/GYVzJ which encourages people to eat meat free meals at least one day a week.33GRACE Communications Foundation. “About Meatless Monday,” Meatless Monday. Archived July 20, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/YwK2v Mitloehner has spoken out against the campaign’s aims in presentations, podcasts, and CLEAR Center publications. 

In 2019 testimony before the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Mitloehner said that it was “staggering how many people continue to think that merely giving up meat – even once a week – will make a significant impact on their individual carbon footprints.”34Frank Mitloehner. “Testimony before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry U.S. Senate,” U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, May 21, 2019. Archived October 3, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  

In a 2016 white paper titled “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction,” Mitloehner argued that limiting meat consumption along the lines of campaigns like “Meatless Monday” would only reduce U.S. national GHG emissions by 0.6 percent, and that “A beefless Monday per week would cut total emissions by 0.3% annually.”35Frank Mitloehner. “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction,” March 23, 2016. Archived April 16, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

Mitloehner added: “One certainly cannot neglect emissions from the livestock sector but to compare them to the main emission sources would put us on a wrong path to solutions, namely to significantly reduce our anthropogenic carbon footprint to reduce climate change.”

In response to Mitloehner’s white paper, a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future criticized his findings, writing that “Dr. Mitloehner uses incomplete greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions statistics to downplay the environmental impacts of animal agriculture.”36Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH; Roni Neff, PhD, SM; Bob Martin; Rebecca Ramsing, MPH, RD; Claire Fitch, MSPH; Brent Kim, MHS; Erin Biehl, MSPH; and Raychel Santo. “A Response to Dr. Frank Mitloehner’s White Paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction”,” Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, 2016. Archived June 10, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, which has “provided technical assistance and scientific expertise to the national Meatless Monday campaign since 2003,” stated that Mitloehner’s emissions calculation “fails to account for several major emissions sources” and “excludes emissions from the production of animal feed and forage, including nitrous oxide emissions associated with fertilizer application; land use changes; the transportation of animal feed, livestock, and food animal products; and emissions associated with imported food animal products.”37Jillian Fry, PhD, MPH; Roni Neff, PhD, SM; Bob Martin; Rebecca Ramsing, MPH, RD; Claire Fitch, MSPH; Brent Kim, MHS; Erin Biehl, MSPH; and Raychel Santo. “A Response to Dr. Frank Mitloehner’s White Paper, “Livestock’s Contributions to Climate Change: Facts and Fiction”,” Johns Hopkins Center for a Liveable Future, 2016. Archived June 10, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

The researchers also noted that Mitloehner “focuses on gains in efficiency per unit of livestock and fails to account for the scale of food animal production and the total environmental footprint of animal agriculture in the U.S.,” and that the “benefits of increased efficiencies can be offset if food animal production continues to increase and results in a larger total environmental footprint.”

In response to the Center for a Liveable Future’s critique, Mitloehner defended his methodology and wrote:38Frank Mitloehner. “My response to the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future,” CLEAR Center, October 15, 2021. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/C2p7e

“I have a feeling I struck a nerve when I said that science shows us that efforts like Meatless Mondays will not reduce emissions in a significant way, and that we will need to find other innovative solutions to do so. That statement was in no way meant to devalue that effort or the Center for a Livable Future. I was merely pointing out that foregoing meat once a week is not enough to make a significant difference in global warming. In fact, even if the world went 100% vegan tomorrow, that would fall short of making a sizeable dent in greenhouse gas emissions. By a longshot. That isn’t to say we shouldn’t reduce animal agriculture’s climate contributions, but impactful solutions are likely going to come on the farm.” 

Mitloehner’s comments downplaying Meatless Mondays were cited by industry groups in their arguments against the campaign. As the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) lobbied in support of an amendment to the 2017 Defense Bill to ban “Meatless Mondays” in the armed forces, the group cited Mitloehner’s work in its 2016 newsletter, writing:39American Feed Industry Association. “American Feed Industry Association Journal: Fall 2016 Edition,” 2016. Archived July 20, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

“Meatless Mondays is a political ploy favored by animal rights groups, designed to increasingly erode consumer demand for meat, poultry and dairy. The Department of Defense is a major market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, and to arbitrarily reduce its purchases of meat and dairy would have a serious negative economic impact on U.S. animal agriculture. A study out of University of California, Davis, which AFIA strongly advocates, was included in information to the House. This measure did not pass.”

Research on voluntary emissions reductions

Mitloehner and other CLEAR Center researchers have partnered with Dairy Cares and Gladstein Neandross & Associates to study voluntary emissions reductions in the dairy industry.40Optimum Dairy Methane Reduction Pathways,” California Dairy Research Foundation. Archived January 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/OLehM The project, Optimum Dairy Methane Reduction Pathways, is sponsored by the California Dairy Research Foundation and aims “to document the progress to date for voluntary, incentive-based approaches to dairy methane reduction, with a focus on California.”  

The proposal also includes a section titled “Industry benefit,” which lists goals including:41Optimum Dairy Methane Reduction Pathways,” California Dairy Research Foundation. Archived January 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/OLehM 

“Maintain voluntary incentive-based approaches; better respond to environmental justice criticisms; encourage continued dairy methane reduction funding; maximize carbon reductions in the dairy supply chain and establish California dairy as a world leader in planet-smart dairy.”

Dairy Cares has argued against California’s bills to set more aggressive greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030. On August 24, 2022, Dairy Cares executive director Michael Boccadero commented on the climate proposals to Agri-Pulse, an online agriculture newspaper:42Brad Hooker. “Bills to watch in the California Legislature’s final week,” Agri-Pulse, August 24, 2022. Archived September 1, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2jPqN 

“California seems hell bent on passing the Inflation Acceleration Act, they have huge economic ramifications for not just the business community, but every resident in the state. And, frankly, the impacts will be hardest on the low-income Californians who can least afford it.”

Funding

While Mitloehner has argued that receiving funding from the agribusiness industry does not influence his research,43Frank Mitloehner. “Can you trust private funding?,” CLEAR Center, April 12, 2022. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/2eoK6 the beef and dairy sectors have lauded his work, especially findings that assert the livestock industry’s emissions have been overstated.44Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. “Frank Mitloehner Honored With Science Communication Award,” Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), April 16, 2019. Archived September 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FvN5U 

According to internal University of California documents obtained by Unearthed and reviewed by The New York Times,45Zach Boren. “Revealed: How the livestock industry funds the ‘greenhouse gas guru’,Unearthed, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/w9hKo the CLEAR Center receives nearly all of its funding from the animal agriculture industry, and has worked with industry representatives to coordinate communication priorities and strategies.46Hiroko Tabuchi. “He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show.,” The New York Times, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/j6pzt

The documents obtained by Unearthed revealed that the CLEAR Center has received about $500,000 per year on average from IFEEDER, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from agribusiness companies and industry groups, bringing the total donations “so far received by or committed to CLEAR” to $3.2 million.

Unearthed also disclosed that Mitloehner had received nearly $19,000 in consulting fees from IFEEDER in 2017, before the founding of the CLEAR Center, according to IFEEDER’s tax records.47ProPublica.”INSTITUTE FOR FEED EDUCATION AND RESEARCH,” Nonprofit Explorer. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/K0gpU

According to his CV, which appears to have been updated April 2021, Mitloehner has declared $12,200,000 of extramural funding for his research from 2002 – 2021.48FRANK MITLOEHNER, PHD,” CLEAR Center, UC Davis, April 14, 2021. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

In a 2019 version of Mitloehner’s CV, he declared 2009 funding from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association,49FRANK M. MITLOEHNER, PHD,” GHGGURU BLOG, 2019. Archived September 27, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. an industry group that lobbies on behalf of the beef industry,50National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “About,” National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). Archived September 15, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/DgbG3 amounting to $25,000 for a project titled “Assessment of various environmental assessment [sic] of the livestock sector”. The funding does not appear on Mitloehner’s most recent CV.

A November 2006 newsletter from the University of California Cooperative Extension notes that Dairy Cares co-funded a study on “emissions from cows housed in environmental chambers” led by Mitloehner, though an amount for the funding is not given. Dairy Cares funded the study alongside the Air Resources Board (ARB) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (SJVAPCD).51University Of California Cooperative Extension Kings County. “DAIRY NOTES,” November 2006. Archived October 4, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

According to his CVs, Mitloehner has received at least $12,492,293 in funding from the following organizations:

DonorTotal
Ag Air Research Council (AARC)$250,000
Alltech$95,000
American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) & IFEEDER$350,993
Applied Geosolutions$292,000
California Air Resources Board (CARB)$1,590,000
California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)$730,000
California Energy Commission (CEC)$1,217,000
California State University (CSU Foundation)$138,000
Center for Food Integrity$454,000
DeLaval$40,000
Ely Lilly/ELANCO$4,230,000
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)$125,000
National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH)$1,700,000
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)$25,000
National Pork Board$40,000
Novus International. Inc.$72,000
State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) (with matching from UC Davis)$600,000
UC Davis, Vice Chancellor for Research$140,000
US Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS)$30,300
US Department of Agriculture – Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (USDA-CSREES)$278,000
US Department of Agriculture – Small Business Innovation Research Program – Phase I (USDA-SBIR I)$20,000
US Department of Agriculture – Small Business Innovation Research Program – Phase II (USDA-SBIR II)$75,000

Key Quotes

July 20, 2022

In 2022 testimony about methane emissions from livestock before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine in the Houses of the Oireachtas, Ireland’s national parliament, Mitloehner said that demand for “animal sourced foods” was “clearly” increasing around the world and that “the bulk of livestock emissions are coming from less efficient regions of the world.”52Frank Mitloehner. “Testimony before the Joint Committee on Agriculture, Food and Marine, Houses of the Oireachtas,” July 20, 2022. Archived October 14, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

He continued: 

“Reducing herd sizes isn’t a practical solution, especially in Ireland, where farmers are very efficient producers. If they scaled back their herds, production would likely move to another region so that global demand could be met. Given how proficient Irish farmers are, those picking up the slack, so to speak, may well be less environmentally sustainable than Irish farmers.” 

Mitloehner added that methane “leakage” could lead to a “spike” in emissions. 

Mitloehner also spoke about animal agriculture’s role in contributing to climate change, saying: 

“Make no mistake, animal agriculture has indeed played a role in advancing atmospheric warming … not to the extent that other sectors such as transportation and energy have … but a role nonetheless. Furthermore, it can help to limit warming further.”

He also stated that “California has reduced the emissions of more than 2 million metric tons of CO2e annually with dairy digesters reducing 30% of its methane” and that the industry was “formulating real, workable solutions to a problem many believe can only be tackled through draconian herd reductions and dietary changes.”

Following the testimony, Caspar Donnison, a postgraduate research student in bioenergy and environmental economics at UC Davis,53Caspar Donnison, BA,” TaylorLab, UC Davis. Archived October 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/eBZmc tweeted that Mitloehner’s claim that California had reduced methane emissions by 30 percent with dairy digesters was “false,” adding that “smaller herd sizes are actually part of California’s plans.”54Caspar Donnison. “Frank Mitloehner told Irish politicians that California’s methane emissions have fallen 30% via manure management, & that Ireland doesn’t need to cut herd sizes for climate targets. The 30% claim is false, & smaller herd sizes are actually part of California’s plans. #falseguru,” tweet from @CasparDonnison, July 26, 2022. Archived July 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3zU6y 

Donnison added that “our state agency expect[s] manure management to deliver a 9% fall in methane emission” by the end of 2022 and that the reduction was “not realised yet,” and that while herd sizes were decreasing, the state will “still be far short of its 2030 target.”

Mitloehner replied to Donnison on Twitter, stating that “Herd reductions [of dairy cows] are from improved performance” because “farmers are able to produce more milk with less cows” and that “Improving cattle performance can help many regions meet demand while reducing environmental impacts.”55Frank Mitloehner. “Herd reductions are from improved performance. Since 2003 we’ve seen about .5% reduction annually in dairy cow numbers as farmers are able to produce more milk with less cows. Improving cattle performance can help many regions meet demand while reducing environmental impacts.,” tweet from @GHGGuru, July 27, 2022. Archived July 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/f5ReS Mitloehner added:56Frank Mitloehner. “Smaller herds are a product of farmers getting more milk from less cows. It’s not required by the state. To say it’s part of California’s plans to reduce emissions is misleading, as it’s a natural result of good research and good farming.,” tweet from @GHGGuru, July 27, 2022. Archived July 28, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/E7Jvw 

“Smaller herds are a product of farmers getting more milk from less cows. It’s not required by the state. To say it’s part of California’s plans to reduce emissions is misleading, as it’s a natural result of good research and good farming.” 

Donnison replied: “Herd reduction is in CARB’s progress report on livestock methane reduction: the figure below shows herd reduction has a large contribution towards the target. It accounts for c.37% (1.3 MMT CO2e) of projected methane reduction by end 2022,”57Caspar Donnison. “Herd reduction is in CARB’s progress report on livestock methane reduction: the figure below shows herd reduction has a large contribution towards the target. It accounts for c.37% (1.3 MMT CO2e) of projected methane reduction by end 2022.” tweet from @CasparDonnison, July 29, 2022. Archived September 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fbF1O and linked to an analysis of the state’s progress toward achieving its 2030 methane emissions reduction target by the California Air Resources Board.58California Air Resources Board. “Analysis of Progress toward Achieving the 2030 Dairy and Livestock Sector Methane Emissions Target – Final,” California Air Resources Board (CARB), March 2022. Archived October 10, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

March 24, 2022

In a blog post on the CLEAR Center website, Mitloehner wrote about “beef-shaming,” saying that media outlets “like to tell us we’re wrong for ordering a steak, a burger or any manner of food that comes from a cow.”59Frank Mitloehner. “When did beef become a four-letter word?,” CLEAR Center, March 24, 2022. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Qsoy7 

Mitloehner argued that “the American identity is somehow intertwined with the cattle herds that graze our plains and the people who raise them,” and claimed that “U.S. ranchers produced 20% of the world’s beef last year with just 9% of the global beef herd,” calling ranchers’ production efficiency “the envy of the world.”

Mitloehner also addressed meat alternatives in the blog post, writing that “faux meats look more and more like faux climate solution, no matter how well they’re positioned and how many criticisms of red meat their supporters construct.” 

He continued: 

“Simply put, people want to eat animal-sourced foods – be that beef, chicken, pork or lamb. That choice doesn’t have to fly in the face of environmental responsibility. Climate solutions have to come to terms with it, though, and that means finding solutions that are more feasible than telling people what they can and cannot eat.

In the meantime, we need to curb climate change, and we need to feed a rapidly growing global population. Animal agriculture can help us do both, provided we lean into American efficiencies and the innovation already found here.”

October 16, 2020

In an October 2020 post about the climate impact of “big oil,” Mitloehner wrote:60Frank Mitloehner. “Big oil distracts from their carbon footprint by tricking you to focus on yours,” CLEAR Center, October 16, 2020. Archived October 4, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/JImhW 

“We must shift our energy sector away from fossil fuel, keeping geological carbon out of the atmosphere and in the ground where it’s been for millions of years, if we want to slow climate change. Fossil fuel industries would do well to find innovative ways to reduce their carbon footprint, instead of pouring massive amounts of money into manipulating you and I.”

Mitloehner continued: “We continue to distract from the problem by disproportionately blaming sectors such as agriculture. Within that suggested framework, meat is practically a dirty word to some climate activists.”

January 28, 2019

Following the publication of the 2019 EAT-Lancet report, which called for up to a 50 percent reduction in meat consumption among Americans to reduce the country’s climate impact,61EAT-Lancet Commission. “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems,” EAT Forum, 2019. Archived September 1, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Mitloehner spoke out against the report’s findings.

At the Iowa Pork Congress in January 2019,62Jennifer Shike. “A Don’t Miss List for the Iowa Pork Congress,” Farm Journal, January 21, 2019. Archived October 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/ZlJ7A Mitloehner pushed back against the EAT-Lancet study, saying that it only allowed an individual to have two thumbnail sized portions of meat a day, and one and a half eggs per week.63Ken Anderson. “MITLOEHNER ISSUES WARNING ABOUT LANCET REPORT,” BrownField Ag News, January 28, 2019. Archived October 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/nkXnx 

In an interview with Brownfield Ag News at the event, Mitloehner said: “I’ve never seen any anti-animal agriculture activity that was as coordinated and well funded as the Eat-Lancet one,” adding: “It’s pretty clear to me that there is a very strong bias against animal agriculture reflected in and by this report.”

Mitloehner also said in the interview that the livestock industry needed to recognize the threat environmental organizations could pose for animal agriculture, saying:64Ken Anderson. “MITLOEHNER ISSUES WARNING ABOUT LANCET REPORT,” BrownField Ag News, January 28, 2019. Archived October 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/nkXnx

“…these are people who want to depict you as being environmentally-destructive, inhumane to animals, unsafe in your practices leading to a poor-quality product—in other words, it is a frontal attack on your legacy and you have to decide, as an individual, whether you allow that to happen.”

Following the publication of the EAT-Lancet report, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) stated that it had “teamed” up with others in the meat industry through the Animal Agriculture Alliance (AAA) to “set the record straight” and oppose the findings of the report.65American Feed Industry Association. “American Feed Industry Association Journal: Spring 2019 Edition,” American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), 2019. Archived October 12, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. In 2017 and 2020, the AFIA gave $10,000 to the AAA.66ProPublica. “INSTITUTE FOR FEED EDUCATION AND RESEARCH,” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Archived October 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/MN2wa 

May 4, 2018

According to a summary from the Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, a cooperative group that represents dairy farmers and lobbies on their behalf in Congress,67About,” Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative. Archived August 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Y124M Mitloehner spoke at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2018 Stakeholders Summit.68Speakers talk about sharing and protecting animal agriculture’s roots,” Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, May 7, 2018. Archived August 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/66ny4 

Mitloehner spoke about “myths about animal agriculture’s impact on the environment,” with Edge reporting:69Speakers talk about sharing and protecting animal agriculture’s roots,” Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, May 7, 2018. Archived August 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/66ny4

“A few key statistics Mitloehner shared included: all of United States agriculture constitutes 9 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and all of livestock contributing 3.8 percent, not 51 percent like some like to claim.”

Mitloehner was quoted as telling the Summit: “When you hear things that sound fishy, don’t just let them go. We have done it too many times.” He added, “If we don’t answer their questions, someone else will. We have to be ready to engage with the public. Not just academics, but farmers too.”

In 2018, the Summit was sponsored by the National Pork Producers Council, the American Feed Industry Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Board, and the American Farm Bureau Federation, among others.70Speakers talk about sharing and protecting animal agriculture’s roots,” Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, May 7, 2018. Archived August 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/66ny4 

Key Actions

October 31, 2022

According to internal University of California documents obtained by Unearthed and reviewed by The New York Times,71Zach Boren. “Revealed: How the livestock industry funds the ‘greenhouse gas guru’,Unearthed, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/w9hKo the CLEAR Center receives nearly all of its funding from the animal agriculture industry, and has worked with industry representatives to coordinate communication priorities and strategies.72Hiroko Tabuchi. “He’s an Outspoken Defender of Meat. Industry Funds His Research, Files Show.,” The New York Times, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/j6pzt

The documents obtained by Unearthed demonstrated the role of the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER), the charity arm of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), in conceptualizing the CLEAR Center, including hiring brand consultants to help name it.73Zach Boren. “Revealed: How the livestock industry funds the ‘greenhouse gas guru’,Unearthed, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/w9hKo The documents also revealed that the CLEAR Center has received about $500,000 per year on average from IFEEDER, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from agribusiness companies and industry groups, bringing the total donations “so far received by or committed to CLEAR” to $3.2 million.

Unearthed also disclosed that Mitloehner had received nearly $19,000 in consulting fees from IFEEDER in 2017, before the founding of the CLEAR Center, according to IFEEDER’s tax records.74ProPublica.”INSTITUTE FOR FEED EDUCATION AND RESEARCH,” Nonprofit Explorer. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/K0gpU

According to an internal document outlining the purpose of the CLEAR Center, IFEEDER wrote that the AFIA could use the research center to “share research findings in policy discussions happening within international standard-setting bodies and at the national level, shaping the future outlook for the industry” and that Mitloehner “provides a neutral, credible, third party voice to news reporters and stakeholder groups at conferences and other important governmental meetings.”75Zach Boren. “Revealed: How the livestock industry funds the ‘greenhouse gas guru’,Unearthed, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/w9hKo

The document added that the CLEAR Center would also highlight the animal agriculture industry’s “commitment to environmental, animal and human health” and would act as a “resource for the animal agriculture industry to look to for leadership in communicating with key audiences about the care and concern that goes into the production of nutritious animal protein.”

In response to the investigation, Mitloehner published a blog post on the CLEAR Center website titled “Full disclosure: I work to reduce the footprint of animal agriculture,” in which he stated that he is “transparent about [his] collaboration with the livestock industry”.76Frank Mitloehner. “Full disclosure: I work to reduce the footprint of animal agriculture,” CLEAR Center, October 31, 2022. Archived October 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/6fRFh

Mitloehner wrote that he is “sensitive to the fact that those in agriculture are portrayed as bad guys in many articles criticizing industry efforts aimed at sustainability” and that farmers and ranchers “are 1% of the population in the U.S., but they provide food for 99% of the population.” He added that critics of animal agriculture may want him “to denounce animal agriculture as a lost cause” but that “this integral part of the agricultural sector provides necessary nutrient-dense foods for most of the global population.”

Mitloehner concluded:

“People want us to go on record that animal agriculture should fade away or be significantly reduced, but that’s not our charge or our place. Our mission is simply to reduce animal agriculture’s impact on our climate and environment, and to do that, we must work with the people who are raising the food that feeds us all.”

August 9, 2022

On Twitter, Mitloehner shared an article about the construction of coal plants in China from Watts Up With That?, a blog written by Anthony Watts that regularly publishes articles critical of mainstream climate change science.77Frank Mitloehner. “And while we are battling burping cows… “China To Build 43 New Coal-Fired Power Plants” | Watts Up With That?,” tweet from @GHGGuru, August 9, 2022. Archived September 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/p8rSa

Mitloehner commented: “And while we are battling burping cows…” and linked to the blog.  

April 2022

Mitloehner participated in a session titled “Achieving Climate Neutrality” at the 2022 California Dairy Sustainability Summit, hosted by Dairy Cares, alongside Sara E. Place, Chief Sustainability Officer at Elanco.78Dairy Cares. “Virtual Event Agenda: April 12-14, 2022,” California Dairy Summit. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Place has a doctorate in animal biology from UC Davis.79Elanco Animal Health. “Elanco Animal Health Appoints Chief Sustainability Officer, Emphasizes Continued Commitment to Advance Well-Being of Animals, People and Planet,” Elanco, December 2, 2019. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/Rn7XP 

According to reporting from Imperial Valley Press, Place told the audience: “Climate neutrality is definitely within reach [for California’s dairy farms]. It’s technically possible.”80Ching Lee. “Climate neutrality on state dairy farms ‘within reach’,” Imperial Valley Press, April 21, 2022. Archived May 15, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/qgVFN 

Mitloehner reportedly said during the event that he believes methane could be an asset to the industry in reaching climate neutrality. He told the audience: “To me, this is what really counts — that we get to a point where we don’t cause additional warming, in fact, maybe undo some of the historical warming.”

Mitloehner stated that he thought California’s dairy farmers could achieve the state’s legal goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030, as well as reach climate neutrality, within the next decade if the industry “continue[s] on a path like we have started.” 

According to the publication, Mitloehner said the effort would require more than “business as usual,” including aggressive methane mitigation strategies.

Mitloehner added: “This is not some kind of creative accounting, greenwashing or any of that.[…]This is using hard science and the knowledge of physics around these gases and the chemical properties, and then projecting what strong reductions will do.”

The 2022 California Dairy Sustainability Summit was sponsored by Chevron, the California Farm Bureau, the California Cattle Council, Nestle, Starbucks, and Zoetis, among others. Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) was listed as an “event partner”.81California Dairy Sustainability Summit. “2022 Sponsors, Exhibitors, and Partners,” California Dairy Sustainability Summit. Archived October 12, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/L0zDD 

April 5, 2022

In a blog post for the U.S. Sustainability Alliance, Mitloehner wrote that dairy digesters were a “climate solution,” stating that “California farms are not only producing milk products for the world, they’re reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20% on the farm and replacing fossil fuels destined for big-rig gas tanks.”82Frank Mitloehner. “Dairy Digesters Are a Climate Solution, Says UC Davis Air Quality Extension Specialist,” U.S. Sustainability Alliance, April 5, 2022. Archived September 13, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/IxWZ5 

Mitloehner addressed criticisms of dairy digesters, writing: “I find it hard to believe there is pushback against greenhouse gas reductions, which begs the question: are these arguments really about digesters or that dairies exist?”

He also wrote: “Feed additives to reduce enteric methane (from cow burps) are promising, but they may not materialize for five years. Digesters can tackle manure emissions today.”

October 20, 2021

Mitloehner wrote a blog on the CLEAR Center website defending the GWP* method of accounting for the climate warming impact of methane emissions.83Frank Mitloehner. “Is GWP* really ‘fuzzy math?’ You decide.,” October 20, 2021. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/sMy6i 

Mitloehner’s blog post was written in response to an article from Bloomberg Green which reported that the industry was starting to applying the GWP* method to their herds to “claim a vastly reduced climate impact.”84Ben Elgin. “Beef Industry Tries to Erase Its Emissions With Fuzzy Methane Math,” Bloomberg Green, October 19, 2021. Archived March 26, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/fccub 

Mitloehner wrote: “We’re able to chart a path to climate neutrality for animal agriculture using GWP*, a metric that is fit for purpose. And we can get there while still feeding a growing population.” 

He acknowledged that “as the Bloomberg article points out, GWP* has a built-in bias toward any level producer, even if that production is huge” and that “the issue of fairness is one that needs to be addressed.”

April – May 2021

Mitloehner presented a talk titled “Changing the Narrative: Animal Agriculture as a Path Forward to Climate Neutrality” at the Animal Agriculture Alliance’s 2021 annual summit.85Changing the Narrative: Animal Agriculture as a Path Forward to Climate Neutrality,” YouTube video uploaded by user Animal Agriculture Alliance, November 11, 2021. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog.

Mitloehner began by explaining why he thinks comparing the carbon footprint per kilogram of beef or other meat to one kilogram of plant foods, like tomatoes, is “not a particularly good denominator to use, considering the incredible differences in nutrient density,” and that comparisons often use “global data,” which he calls a fallacy, because there is “variability” in the efficiency of food production around the world.   

He also spoke about the carbon footprint of beef, as calculated by the EPA, and said that he felt when compared with the carbon footprint of heavy industries and fossil fuels, “the focus of our carbon discussions, our greenhouse gas discussions, on beef is probably ill-advised, in my opinion.”

Mitloehner discussed the “methane carbon cycle” and said that keeping livestock herds constant would not lead to any additional carbon being added to the atmosphere. He then spoke about the GWP* method for quantifying the warming effect of methane, and stated that the metric “take[s] care of characterizing the short lifespan of methane, but it characterizes the fact that it’s naturally removed from the atmosphere.”

Mitloehner also spoke about the use of dairy biogas in California to produce “renewable natural gas” for vehicles, calling the conversion “the most carbon negative fuel type there is,” which has led to a “new type of gold rush in California” for farmers who are receiving credits for “reducing” CO2 emissions.  

He stated that the industry had already achieved a 25 percent reduction in methane emissions due to incentives that support similar technologies, and that the reduction in methane “has a cooling effect” which “counteracts nitrous oxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from these dairies.”

September 2, 2020

In a CLEAR Center white paper titled “Methane, Cows, and Climate Change: California Dairy’s Path to Climate Neutrality,” Mitloehner and co-authors wrote that “California’s dairy farms are leading change and making significant progress in reducing the amount of GHG emissions released into the environment.”86Frank Mitloehner. “Methane, Cows, and Climate Change: California Dairy’s Path to Climate Neutrality,” CLEAR Center, September 2, 2020. Archived December 28, 2021. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.  

Mitloehner and his co-authors – one of whom was executive director of Dairy Cares Michael Boccadoro – drew a distinction between “fossil methane” (e.g. methane gas) and “biogenic methane,” stating: 

“Biogenic methane from cows is part of a natural carbon cycle, where after about 12 years it is removed from the atmosphere. […] As part of the biogenic carbon cycle, the carbon originally utilized by the plant is returned to the atmosphere, contributing no net gain of CO2.”

The authors argued that biogenic methane is different from “fossil methane,” which they define as “carbon that has been locked up in the ground for millions of years” and “directly transfers carbon that was stored in the ground (geologic carbon) into the atmosphere as CO2” when burned.

In a press release accompanying the white paper, Mitloehner and Boccadero also advocated for a different method of accounting for the greenhouse gas impact of methane, known as GWP*.87Methane, Cows, and Climate Change: California Dairy’s Path to Climate Neutrality,” CLEAR Center, Press Release, September 2, 2020. Archived August 31, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/soxCE 

They wrote:

“Currently, the main accounting method used for measuring the climate impacts of greenhouse gases does not describe how individual gases, such as methane warm — or cool — the climate over time. That oversight leads to a misinterpretation of methane’s role in warming the climate, while also ignoring possible solutions that could offset greenhouse gases from other sectors such as transport.”

July 15, 2020

In response to a July 2020 Burger King advertisement in which the fast food chain declared it had cut a third of its cattle’s methane emissions by changing their diet, Mitloehner rebutted the ad’s claims about the damage caused by methane to the climate in a blog post for the CLEAR Center.88Frank Mitloehner. “Burger King’s “breathe the farts of change” not passing the sniff test,” CLEAR Center, July 15, 2020. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/NZHMR 

Mitloehner wrote that the research cited by Burger King was not peer reviewed and had not yet proven that methane emissions could be reduced through feed additives like lemongrass to the extent Burger King had claimed. 

IFEEDER, the “charity arm” of the American Feed Industry Association, celebrated when Burger King committed to working with Mitloehner on future research and communications about animal agriculture’s climate impact, writing in its newsletter that Mitloehner’s work was “leading the way in shifting the conversation and the perception of animal agriculture when it comes to addressing environmental concerns of livestock.”89IFEEDER. “Communicating Science Within the Fast Food Industry,” IFEEDER Newsletter, Vol. 5; No. 5, September 24, 2020. Archived June 24, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

The newsletter continued

“The CLEAR Center’s scientific research is important to the agricultural community’s efforts to understand its environmental footprint and adopt better production practices. Equally important is the center’s ability to communicate scientific research in a way that others can understand the industry’s commitment to sustainability.”

Zippy Duvall, the president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, also lauded Mitloehner’s assistance in pushing back against Burger King’s ad campaign, which he said “set up animal agriculture as a villain in the climate change narrative.”90Zippy Duval. “The Power of Engagement – A Burger King Case Study,” American Farm Bureau Federation, July 29, 2020. Archived July 27, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/LZkCU 

July 14, 2020

In a video for the CLEAR Center’s YouTube channel, the organization illustrated the biogenic carbon cycle to argue that reducing methane emissions could actually lead to global cooling.91Rethinking Methane,” YouTube video uploaded by user CLEAR Center at UC Davis, July 14, 2020. Archived .mp4 on file at DeSmog. 

In the video, Mitloehner said that: 

“…if we were to keep our herd size constant, then that would mean that the amount of methane produced by our livestock and the amount of methane destroyed [by the biogenic carbon cycle] balance each other out. Meaning no additional carbon added to the atmosphere, and that means no additional warming.”

The video stated that, with regard to climate change, “The good news is, if we managed to reduce methane from cattle, such as with feed additives or digesters, we can actually generate short-term cooling.”

Mitloehner also said in the video: 

“What gets me most excited is that if we reduce methane from let’s say cattle, then we are actively pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. That’s almost as if you were to store atmospheric CO2 in the ground. If you reduce methane from cattle, you pull carbon out of the atmosphere, and that induces global cooling. Can it be done? It can be done, and it has been done.” 

The video concludes: “Rethinking methane allows us to focus on climate solutions both in the short term and long term, while still working to feed a growing population.”

October 16, 2019

Mitloehner was presented with the 2019 Borlaug CAST Communication Award by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) for “making a difference nationally and worldwide in how we view animal agriculture, its effect on greenhouse gases, and its role in nourishing the global population.”92Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. “Frank Mitloehner Honored With Science Communication Award,” Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), April 16, 2019. Archived September 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FvN5U 

While presenting the award, fellow UC Davis Animal Science professor Dr. Ermias Kebreab noted that Mitloehner had advised the Obama administration against recommendations to reduce meat intake as the federal government was developing updated dietary guidelines.93Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. “Frank Mitloehner Honored With Science Communication Award,” Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), April 16, 2019. Archived September 14, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/FvN5U

The American Feed Industry Association referenced the financial support it provided for Mitloehner’s research via IFEEDER in a Fall 2017 newsletter, writing:94American Feed Industry Association. “American Feed Industry Association Journal: Fall 2017 Edition,” 2017. Archived July 20, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

“Through IFEEDER, research conducted by Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D., of the University of California-Davis, in participation with the Food and Agriculture Organization, […] found this [livestock contributes as much greenhouse gas emissions as transportation] is simply not true. Using Environmental Protection Agency data, the partnership found the U.S. livestock and poultry industry is responsible for less than 4 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, compared to 27 percent for the transportation sector and 31 percent for the energy sector. AFIA used this scientific data to prove to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the White House that it did not need to include misguided recommendations encouraging consumers to reduce their consumption of meat in the recently updated dietary guidelines.”

The 2015 – 2020 dietary guidelines released by USDA were criticized for not mentioning red meat.95Megan Scudellari. “Nutrition experts criticize new federal dietary guidelines,” The Boston Globe, January 12, 2016. Archived July 24, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/DGROw The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee said in their 2015 report that healthier diets should include less red and processed meat, and called for a focus on sustainability in the 2015 – 2020 dietary guidelines.96United States Department for Agriculture. “Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee: Advisory Report to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture,” USDA Agricultural Research Service, February 2015. Archived October 20, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog. 

However, after 100 Republican members of Congress criticized the report for its findings on meat and sustainability,97Laura MacCleary. “Leave the science alone on Dietary Guidelines 2015,” The Hill, July 3, 2015. Archived November 9, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/M230Z the USDA released a statement confirming that the upcoming dietary recommendations would not address sustainability.98Tom Vilsack and Sylvia Burwell. “2015 Dietary Guidelines: Giving You the Tools You Need to Make Healthy Choices,” February 21, 2017. Archived August 8, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/L8SNV The resulting guidelines were criticized, particularly by nutrition experts, for demonstrating the strength of the meat lobby, rather than relying on the scientific findings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.99Laura MacCleary. “Leave the science alone on Dietary Guidelines 2015,” The Hill, July 3, 2015. Archived November 9, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/M230Z

March 2019

The Counter reported that Mitloehner had had discussions with a think tank advising U.S. Member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on environmental policy,100Sam Bloch. “Sorry, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but ‘farting cows’ aren’t the problem,” The Counter, March 7, 2019. Archived September 24, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WpfD8 after Mitloehner had tweeted at Ocasio-Cortez: 

“Dear @AOC: we all try to help the climate. However, the two options you offered have low impacts compared to the 800lb gorilla, which is to reduce fossil fuel use. About 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions in the US stem from transport and energy prod&use. Meat/milk = 4% of total GHG”.101Frank Mitloehner. “Dear @AOC: we all try to help the climate. However, the two options you offered have low impacts compared to the 800lb gorilla, which is to reduce fossil fuel use. About 2/3 of greenhouse gas emissions in the US stem from transport and energy prod&use. Meat/milk = 4% of total GHG,” tweet from @GHGGuru, February 7, 2019. Archived February 23, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/qW92B 

Ocasio-Cortez had tweeted about a discussion she had had during a school assembly, in which she told students they could help combat climate change by “skip[ping] meat/dairy for a meal.”102Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Yesterday I visited a school assembly w/ teens in Queens. One of them asked, “What can WE do to combat climate change?” 2 recs: – Skip disposable razors+switch to safety razors – Give your tummy a break! Skip meat/dairy for a meal (easiest is bfast, I do banana & peanut butter),” tweet from @AOC, February 5, 2019. Archived June 1, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/3mHJO 

Mitloehner told The Counter that he gave Ocasio-Cortez’s team “a lot of credit” for reaching out to him, saying: “If we really are serious about making a difference in carbon emissions, you cannot do this without agriculture involved.”103Sam Bloch. “Sorry, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but ‘farting cows’ aren’t the problem,” The Counter, March 7, 2019. Archived September 24, 2021. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/WpfD8 

The publication also reported that Mitloehner “disagrees with [the Green New Deal], methodologically, saying he’s not convinced that emissions are being adequately measured today, and therefore, that it’s premature to establish targets,” but that “philosophically” he agrees with the goal to reduce “short-lived” greenhouse gasses. 

2012 – 2017

American pharmaceutical company Ely Lilly granted Mitloehner $4,000,000 from 2012 – 2017 to measure the difference in greenhouse gas emissions from cattle fed with one of their supplements for 91 days. Previously, Eli Lilly granted him $230,000 for a 2010 – 2012 study on “Effects of Dietary Rumensin on Greenhouse Gas and Volatile Organic Compounds Emissions from Lactating Dairy Cows.”104CLEAR Center. “Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D,” CLEAR Center. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lqqWH 

2011 – 2012 

Novus International, an American animal health and nutrition company, granted Mitloehner $72,000 from December 2011 to conduct a project titled “Effects of Nutritional Additives on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cattle”.105FRANK M. MITLOEHNER, PHD,” GHGGURU BLOG, 2019. Archived September 27, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

2010 – 2014

From 2010 to 2014, the Center for Food Integrity granted Mitloehner $454,000 to be part of the Coalition for a Sustainable Egg Supply,106CLEAR Center. “Frank Mitloehner, Ph.D,” CLEAR Center. Archived July 7, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/lqqWH a partnership between research universities and food corporations, such as McDonald’s and Cargill, and facilitated by the Center for Food Integrity. In response to calls for banning cages in the poultry industry, the study examined the benefits and drawbacks of raising cage free hens.107J. A. Mench, J. C. Swanson, C. Arnot. “The Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply: A unique public–private partnership for conducting research on the sustainability of animal housing systems using a multistakeholder approach,” Journal of Animal Science, Volume 94, Issue 3, March 1, 2016. Archived June 16, 2022. Archive URL: https://archive.ph/0wmKI 

2009

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association granted Mitloehner $25,000 for a project titled “Assessment of various environmental assessment [sic] of the livestock sector”.108FRANK M. MITLOEHNER, PHD,” GHGGURU BLOG, 2019. Archived September 27, 2022. Archived .pdf on file at DeSmog.

Affiliations

  • CLEAR Center, UC Davis – Director.109FRANK MITLOEHNER, PHD”. CLEAR Center, UC Davis. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived version on file at DeSmog. 
  • United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO), Partnership Project for the Benchmarking of Environmental Impacts of the Global Livestock Supply Chains; LEAP (2012 – 15) – Chairman.110FRANK MITLOEHNER, PHD”. CLEAR Center, UC Davis. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived version on file at DeSmog. 
  • National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine, Committee on Assessment of the Environmental and Health Effects of the Food System (March 2013-15) – Member.111FRANK MITLOEHNER, PHD”. CLEAR Center, UC Davis. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived version on file at DeSmog. 
  • President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, PCAST (June 2012-15) – Workgroup Member.112FRANK MITLOEHNER, PHD”. CLEAR Center, UC Davis. Archived July 1, 2022. Archived version on file at DeSmog.

Social Media

Sample Publications

  • Mitloehner, F.M. 2019. The Welfare of Cattle. Livestock and Climate Change: Facts and Fiction. In: Eds: T. Engle, D. Klingborg, B. Rollin. CRC Press. Chapter 4. Pp 27- 30. CRC Press.
  • Mitloehner, F.M. 2018. Addressing the 2050 Food Challenge – a Sustainable Solution Must Include Livestock. International Animal Health Journal. 5: 56-59. 
  • Caro, D., S.J. Davis, E. Kebreab, F.M. Mitloehner. 2018. Land-use change emissions from soybean feed embodied in Brazilian pork and poultry meat. Journal of Cleaner Production. 172:2646-2654.
  • Mitloehner, F.M., and M. Cohen. Impacts and mitigation of emissions from dairy feeds on air quality. 2017. Large Dairy Herd Management 3rd ed. (editor: D. Beede), ADSA, Champaign, IL. Pp: 47-59. 
  • Place S.E. and Mitloehner F.M. 2013. Air quality issues in sustainability: Greenhouse gases and volatile organic compounds. In: Sustainable Animal Agriculture, E. Kebreab (ed). Pp124-136.
  • Mitloehner, F. M. 2010. Is the rising demand for animal protein fueling climate change? J. Anim. Breed. Genet. 127: 421-422 (Editorial).

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