Every time I have had the opportunity to listen to Paul Pearson, the long-time Secretary of the International Council of Tanners, talk about the future for leather he has included one slide about the expected demand for meat. In doing so he notes that the supply of raw material tanners have for all but a minuscule part of our production is totally dependent on others and it is future meat demand that is an important indication of the supply of hides we can look forward to.
I am not one who likes the argument that meat is a waste product and that tanners are somehow waste disposal officers. I believe eating meat in appropriate quantities is a good thing, and I think it is important for us to be close with farmers of all types. A happy cow makes for a better hide and good animal husbandry is important. I do not support animal rights but I strongly support animal welfare. For much of the planet we need livestock to improve our grassland and help sequestrate huge volumes of carbon dioxide, and with it to improve our soil. A living planet needs good soil. I do not think the methane argument is being fairly analysed, and am convinced the carbon fuel lobby has set out to damage the livestock industry as a way of creating scientific confusion and clouding the debate about carbon dioxide related to fossil fuels. Yes, the same fossil fuels that make all those plastics and synthetics that are promoted by those who dislike leather.
From that quite fanatical group we have seen many statements in the last six months that the growing demand for leather for fashion will lead directly to the slaughter of some 430 million head of cattle. So I was pleased to see published on beef2live.com the projected 2016 beef production figures for the world. Whatever tanners pay for a hide it will never ever be enough to make any difference in the decision by a farmer to keep a cow. The demand for milk and more importantly meat is what decides how many hides we have to tan. So when people talk to you about killing cattle for leather, show them the table copied below as the true driver of supply now and in the future.
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