America’s farmers, through tremendous gains in productivity and rapid adoption of technology, are leading the way in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and sequestering carbon. That was the word from Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, in remarks last week to a House Committee exploring climate change solutions.
At the forefront
“U.S. farmers and ranchers have long been at the forefront of climate-smart farming, utilizing scientific solutions, technology and innovations to raise crops and care for livestock,” Duvall told the House Agriculture Committee. “These efforts are designed to protect soil and water, efficiently manage manure, produce clean and renewable energy, capture carbon and improve sustainability.”
All told, agriculture accounts for approximately 10% of total U.S. GHG emissions, far less than the transportation, electricity generation and industrial sectors.
A 287% productivity gain
“Over two generations, we’ve been able to increase productivity by 287%, while using the same resources. To say we’re doing more with less is an understatement,” he said.
Those gains in productivity have allowed farmers to set aside lands for forests, wetlands, grassland and other practices that help to remove carbon from the atmosphere, Duvall noted.
Carbon sequestration, achieved through those conservation practices, contributed to GHG removals equivalent to 12% of total U.S. emissions. And farmers can do more, Duvall said.
Welcome the opportunity
Farm Bureau members, Duvall said, recognize the value of a voluntary, market-based system of incentives for planting crops or adopting farming practices that keep carbon in the soil. That is why they welcome opportunities participate in emerging carbon markets, he said.
Farm Bureau, Duvall said, has been a leader in forming the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance.
The newly-formed group consists of a wide range of organizations representing farmers, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates that are working together to develop and promote shared climate policy priorities.
The coalition has three primary principles: supporting voluntary, market- and incentive-based policies; advancing science-based outcomes; and promoting resilience and helping rural economies better adapt to changes in the climate.