US agriculture continues to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

US farmers and ranchers continue to reduce per-unit greenhouse gas emissions, according to EPA’s latest greenhouse gas inventory report.

AFBF released an analysis on the EPA report, which identifies agriculture’s and other economic sectors’ contributions to greenhouse gas emissions for 2018 and earlier years

American Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton says the US ag sector accounted for less than 10 percent of total US emissions in 2018.  

“When you look at emissions per economic sector, the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 was the transportation sector,” he says. “That represented about 28 percent of all emissions in the United States and agriculture was a distant fourth.”

Agriculture industry produces less greenhouse gas emissions than electricity generation, the industrial sector, and commercial and residential sectors.  

He says animal agriculture represented less than three percent of all emissions in the country.

“Beef cattle in 2018 was less than two percent, dairy was less than .7 percent and hogs less than .04 percent,” he says.

Newton says the data shows that farmers continue to produce more with less resources.

“We’re producing more crops and livestock products every single year because of our adoption of precision agriculture and so that allows our footprint per-unit to actually shrink so I think that’s an important component of the story,” he says.

EPA data shows that agriculture’s global contribution to greenhouse gas emissions was 24 percent in 2010, more than double US agriculture’s contribution to total US emissions in 2018.

Audio: John Newton

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