A recently released “Annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report” from the Environmental Protection Agency revealed good news for agriculture.
The report captured emissions for all industries in 2019. U.S. agriculture remains a small slice of the greenhouse emissions pie at just 10.2% overall compared to other economic sectors, including transportation, electricity and industry. That small percentage is attributed to farmers’ conservation efforts.
“We’re actively trying to make our footprint even smaller, converting waste into energy, applying conservation and working lands programs into our everyday cropping systems, and really utilizing the tools at hand to work on things like carbon sequestration,” noted American Farm Bureau Federation economist Shelby Myers.
“And if you look over the last 70 years, U.S. farms have nearly tripled in production, but the amount of resources we put into that, like land, energy and fertilizer, have remained nearly stable,” she added.
AFBF President Zippy Duvall noted that the results of the report show great achievement for agriculture. “When you factor in land management and forestry practices, agriculture boasts net emissions of -2%,” he explained.
U.S. farmers are producing 143 times more food today than 30 years ago, Duvall added, while the amount of fertilizer and water used in farming has stayed relatively the same.
“Not only that, but we are also producing more food using less farmland—30 million acres less than in 1990—as more land has turned to development with our growing urban and suburban populations,” he said.
Farmers are continuing to improve on climate-friendly farming practices since they rely on a healthy environment to produce food and forest products. AFBF economists found that, in relation to population increases, U.S. agriculture’s emissions per capita have actually decreasedby 15%.
Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, agreed that farmers have made great strides in boosting efficiency and implementing climate-smart practices.
“Agriculture has been proactive in working toward sustainability goals, and we’re looking for partners to help us do even more through market-based, voluntary programs,” Rowe said.
AFBF has joined with the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance in supporting the re-introduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The act establishes a U.S. Department of Agriculture technical assistance and certification program to assist farmers and forest owners seeking to participate in voluntary carbon markets.
Rowe said FACA provides recommendations for lawmakers as they consider climate policy. “We encourage new allies to join us as we build on climate-smart advances while ensuring farmers continue to provide safe, abundant food for America’s families.”