US commits $300 million to measuring farm emissions

Cutting emissions critical to reaching net-zero goal
calendar icon 12 July 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

The Biden administration will spend $300 million to better quantify greenhouse gas emissions generated by agriculture and the potential carbon savings of certain farming practices, Reuters reported, citing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday.

Agriculture accounts for about 10% of US emissions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The administration has said cutting farm emissions is critical to reaching its goal of net zero emissions by 2050 to fight climate change.

The USDA will use the money to expand its data collection and analysis capacity and to build a national research network dedicated to studying soil carbon sequestration, a critical tool in the agency's approach to cutting farm emissions.

Certain farm practices, like reducing tilling, can increase the amount of carbon stored in soil and cut down on emissions, though there is debate among researchers as to the exact capacity of soil to store carbon.

"We've got to get the science and innovation right," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on a call with reporters. "This is going to allow us to know what works and what doesn't."

The USDA does have existing emission and carbon sequestration estimates for various farm practices, but the underlying data is often out of date and imprecise, Bill Hohenstein, director of USDA's Office of Energy and Environmental Policy, said on the call.

The agency, in partnership with the White House, also plans to release a national strategy for greenhouse gas measurement and monitoring in the agriculture and forestry sectors for public comment on Wednesday, Vilsack said.

The money for the project comes from the $430 billion Inflation Reduction Act signed by President Joe Biden last year, which included $20 billion for climate-smart agriculture.

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