TEXAS — When Lew Moorman purchased his ranch located in Texas Hill Country several years ago, he got rid of the cows. He thought it was the right thing to do, but it actually ended up hurting the land.

What You Need To Know

  • Texas rancher Lew Moorman says cows and the methane they produce are not the main culprits when it comes to climate change

  • Moorman has adopted a sustainability model at his ranch referred to as regenerative agriculture

  • Among other measures, it involves not tilling the land and allowing the cows to stomp around in order to produce better soil and reduce carbon emissions

  • Moorman says regenerative agriculture is catching on and large corporations are beginning to employ it

So, he brought the cattle back and instead implemented regenerative agriculture practices. It made a big difference, but now he’s wondering if it’s enough.

Moorman enjoys driving around his sprawling ranch, but most of his time is spent behind a desk as the founder of Scaleworks, a venture equity firm based in San Antonio. Still, his mind remains on the ranch.

“Nothing better than cow manure. This is – this is gold,” he said.

For Moorman, cow manure is a symbol of a thriving ecosystem.

“This cow patty was probably four times the size 48 hours ago, and it’s been absorbed back,” he said.

We wondered why cows and the methane gas they emit have gotten such a bad environmental rap only for experts and ranchers to turn around and say that the cows may not be at fault after all.

“This methane’s been out there and it’s been cycling forever, so this is another one of those things that’s not understood,” Moorman said. “This is not the cause of global warming gases, these animals.”

Positive growth on the ranch led Moorman back to the business world and the creation of Wholesome Meats, a company under the Scaleworks umbrella focused on regenerative agriculture and providing beef that only comes from ranches that adhere to those sustainability principles.

“Once you start to see that nature has the answers for us if we just harness it correctly, you start to go, ‘Why aren’t we doing this everywhere? Why isn’t this the way the agriculture system’s built?’” Moorman said.

So what is regenerative agriculture? In this case it’s all about the cows. Moorman said part of it involves keeping the cows moving and not allowing them to overgraze.  

In addition, there’s no tilling of the land allowed. He lets the cows do their business and stomp on the land. He says that produces an ecosystem that creates more soil, which in turn leads to the retention of rainwater and keeps carbon in the ground rather than escaping into the atmosphere.

For Moorman and his crew, sticking to what they know is their small way of contributing to environmental sustainability, and as quickly as possible.

“We got to take care of our soil. We’re not taking care of our soil. So, if we can’t eat, we’re dead,” he said.

A few restored grasslands and healthy cows might not sound like a big impact, but others are taking notice.

“Every day we’re seeing big corporations commit to it, and people are catching on,” Moorman said, “People know we’ve got to do better and be better stewards for the environment. And now is the time. We’re running out of time.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Wholesale meats instead of Wholesome meats. This has been corrected on all platforms.