Hedge fund manager revolutionizes sustainable cattle farming techniques

ANDREA RICKETTI
STAFF WRITER

A couple based out of Pescadero, Calif., has changed the future of cattle ranching. When wife Kat Taylor wanted to sell beef from their cattle herd, husband Tom Steyer was skeptical. Steyer is the founder of Farallon Capital, which is one of the biggest hedge funds in the world. Farallon Capital has roughly $20 billion under management for universities, foundations and wealthy Americans, according to a Monday New York Times article. As a result, he had stipulations about joining the cattle business since it had a reputation for being a miserable investment. Kat’s limited knowledge about the industry added to his hesitance to join the industry.
When the couple decided to raise beef on their ranch, infamously known as “TomKat Ranch,” their mission became more about conservation than beef. Their land spreads across 1,800 acres in close proximity to Highway 1, a rural location of California. Their mantra was to develop a conservation project. This project involved improving soil health, converting to solar energy and conserving water throughout the beef process. The couple hoped to develop practices that can be implemented in ranches throughout the country. Steyer was quoted in the New York Times:
“Think of the ranch as a huge science experiment,” Steyer said. “Can you raise animals sustainably? Can the land become the carbon sink that it once was? Can you demonstrate a way of doing agriculture, raising food, that doesn’t damage the environment?”
Changing the industry was the couple’s ultimate goal, and they would not stop until they achieved it.
Steyer has used his retirement to become more involved in environmental causes. He fashioned a national campaign to fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. He also gave financial support to candidates who have environmental goals that are similar to his.
While he was creating a campaign against the Keystone pipeline, his wife was creating her own mission. Kat is concerned with the widespread issue of carbon in soil. As a result, she has sought to lower the high levels of carbon that exist in soil, which follows a trend similar to growing carbon missions in the air.
Kat has become well-informed on the issue by reading “Grass-Fed Cattle: How to Produce and Market Natural Beef.” This book argues that large herds of animals create a positive effect on land, which is opposed to common belief. The book suggests that animals traveling in herds push dead plant materials into ground. This process assists in breaking down microorganisms that help promote growth. Herds also break up the earth, which allows the rain to go farther into the ground and creates a natural fertilizer. Overall, it produces more efficient and healthier grass, which then provides food for the herds the next time they travel on the land.
The couple aims to replicate this across the country by rotating cows, birds and pigs to create richer and more efficient soil. They have dedicated their lives to more sustainable herding, which can pave the way for future ranchers.

Contact the writer:
andrea.ricketti@scranton.edu

2 Responses to Hedge fund manager revolutionizes sustainable cattle farming techniques

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