Analysis Shows U.S. Agriculture Reducing Emissions

Cindy Zimmerman

American agriculture is more environmentally sustainably than ever.

A new analysis of updated data from both USDA and EPA shows U.S. farmers and ranchers continue to reduce per-unit greenhouse gas emissions. All told, the U.S. agricultural sector accounts for less than 10% of total U.S. emissions. That’s less than the emissions from the transportation, electricity generation and industrial sectors. Globally, agriculture accounts for about 24% of GHG emissions.

At the same time, American farmers are producing more crops on fewer acres, according to an analysis of USDA data. When compared to farm production in 1990, U.S. farmers would have needed almost 100 million additional acres to grow the same amount of corn, cotton, rice, soybeans and wheat they harvested in 2018.

The analysis builds on data shared during the launch of Farmers for a Sustainable Future (FSF), a coalition of agriculture groups aimed at educating lawmakers and finding solutions to challenges posed by climate change. The gains farmers have made in reducing their environmental footprint have been significant, and FSF supports federal investment in innovation, science-based research, voluntary conservation programs, resilient infrastructure, and incentives to assist farmers in furthering these efforts.

“Corn farmers are proud of their successful efforts to improve soil, water and air quality,” said Kevin Ross, president of the National Corn Growers Association, an FSF member. “These efforts are paying off in increased carbon sequestration and carbon retention in the soil, which helps offset agriculture’s relatively low contribution to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.”

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