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Ag Industry Found to Contribute 10% of Overall GHG Emission

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report that states 9.9% of greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock in 2018. A new analysis of EPA data highlights agricultural emissions reductions and the importance of developing new research and technologies to capture more carbon in cropland and pastureland. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks is an annual report that estimates the total national greenhouse gas emissions and removals associated with human activities across the United States. 

Each year since the early 1990s, EPA has published the draft report in February, to allow for public comment before publishing the final report by April 15 of this year. The gases covered by the Inventory include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, sulfur hexafluoride, and nitrogen trifluoride. The Inventory also calculates carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere by “sinks,” through the uptake of carbon and storage in forests, vegetation, and soils. The report reveals that U.S. carbon sinks offset 12% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and sequester 764 million metric tons during 2018. The largest carbon sink involved U.S. forestry lands.

Emissions increased from 2017 to 2018 by 3.1%. This increase was largely driven by an increase in emissions from fossil fuel combustion. Various management practices on agricultural soils can lead to an increased availability of nitrogen in the soil and result in emissions of nitrous oxide (N2O). Specific activities that contribute to N2O emissions from agricultural lands include the application of synthetic and organic fertilizers, the growth of nitrogen-fixing crops, the drainage of organic soils, and irrigation practices. Management of agricultural soils accounts for just over half of the N2O emissions from the agriculture economic sector.

“Farmers and ranchers have made great strides in climate-smart practices, yet we’re always looking for ways to do better,” said American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) President Zippy Duvall, in a press release. “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. The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, which we co-founded, has 40 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, affordable food for America’s families.”