Agriculture Impact on GHG


Farmers and ranchers continue to be stewards of the land by promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, efficiently using nutrients and caring for their animals. For decades they have pushed past the boundaries of innovation by investing in agricultural research and adopting practices with the goals of improving productivity, providing clean and renewable energy, and enhancing sustainability.

  • Agriculture in 2018 represented 10.5% of total U.S. GHG emissions
    • Enteric fermentation from livestock represented less than 3% of all emissions in 2018
    • When manure management is included, livestock-related emissions represented less than 4% of all emissions
  • Global agricultural GHG emissions are 24%
    • Through use of conservation efforts and technology, US farmers have a lower GHG contribution than other farmers around the world, averaging 9% over the last decade



Pork production accounts for less than 0.3% of U.S. GHGemissions, according to the American Farm Bureau, with data compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Compared to 1990, pork production has increased by 17%, while GHGemissions, energy, water, and land use have decreased or remained flat

Pork producers are working to improve sustainability even more through a task force formed in 2018, comprised of leaders from across the industry to provide guidance

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U.S. beef production accounted for 1.9% of GHGemissions in 2018 (Environmental Protection Agency, Farm Bureau Calculations;, U.S. beef is less than 0.5% of GHGemissions

    • Ruminant livestock produce the most methane, not the most GHGemissions
    • Ruminant cattle produce methane based on their ability to convert forages or grasses from environments that cannot produce other crops into high quality proteinMethane emissions are naturally created by microorganisms in the rumen/digestive tract95-98%

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Land & Water


Beef production involves more complex biological processes than any other food system. The completion of this life cycle assessment required the entire value chain to work together to account for inputs and outputs.That cooperation between segments marks a new chapter for the beef community and demonstrates the industry’s commitment to a path of continuous improvement.

  • Cattle allow us to produce food on land unsuitable for cultivation while enhancing ecosystems
  • Cattle are ruminants that have the ability to convert forages into a human-edible protein
  • 800 million acres of rangeland, or 35% of the U.S., is unsuitable for any sort of crop production

Maintaining grasslands and preventing conversion to other uses (farming, urban sprawl) prevents the carbon in soil from being released into the atmosphere. Research indicates that improving or reinstating native grasslands holds high potential for storing millions of tons more carbon.140,000,000 total acres U.S. farmers have enrolled in conservation programs (equal to the total land area of New York and California)

  • 2/3 of land in U.S. is used for livestock
    • 70% of this land is “marginal” (insufficient soil quality or moisture to grow crops)
    • ½ of fertilizers used are chemical; ½ are organic (i.e. manure) = organic/vegan are buying products that rely on animal production for fertilizer supply
  • Plants, soils, and oceans are only carbon sinks in the world
    • Properly managed grazing systems can be powerful sinks
    • The Great Plains of North America is the largest prairie in the world and acts as America’s “carbon vault”


On average, it takes 308 gallons of water, most of which is recycled, to produce a pound of boneless beef

Crop irrigation for the production of feed for cattle is the single largest source of water consumption in the beef value chain at approximately 95%

Water consumed by beef is only around 5%

Gallons of Water

Produce 1 Pound of Beef
Produce 1 Cotton Shirt
Manufacture 1 Vehicle

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