The EPA’s latest inventory of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions shows agriculture emissions dropped slightly in 2021 while emissions from other economic sectors rose. 

The EPA said ag emissions declined 0.2% from 2020 to 2021, while overall U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in­­creased 5.2% as economic activity picked up after COVID-19 lockdowns.

Overall, emissions from agriculture totaled 636 million metric tons in carbon dioxide equivalents, or just 10% of total U.S. emissions, the EPA said. 

The largest emissions source was the U.S. transportation sector, representing 28% of total emissions, followed by electricity generation at 25% and the industrial sector at 23.5%. 

These numbers are important to keep in mind as the federal government implements policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030.  

Farmers are doing their part to sequester carbon in the soil by adopting practices like reduced tillage, cover crops and other conservation efforts. Ag emissions have declined for three years in a row, according to the EPA. 

While ag emissions are 7% higher than a 1990 baseline, ag productivity growth has far exceeded that pace. 

”Adjusting for productivity gains within the sector, the 7% increase in agricultural emissions drops to an 18% decline since 1990,” said Danny Munch, American Farm Bureau Federation economist. “That means U.S. agriculture is producing more food, fiber and renewable fuel for more people while using fewer resources and emitting fewer greenhouse gases.”