Agriculture (primarily industrial), originating in the US, contributed about 9% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, according to the EPA. However, the food system at large, including feed, fertilizer and pesticide manufacture, processing, transportation, refrigeration and waste disposal, contributes about 30% or more of total annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Recent data from the Rodale Institute indicates that we could sequester more than 100% of our current annual CO 2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, commonly called “regenerative organic agriculture.” “These practices,” says the report, “work to maximize carbon fixation while minimizing the loss of that carbon once returned to the soil, reversing the greenhouse effect.” Additionally, organic and regenerative agricultural practices have proven to improve air quality. Another study by the Rodale Institute has found just one acre of organically farmed land can subtract up to 7000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
Cropland occupies about one-fifth of U.S. land. One-third of our entire corn crop is devoted to ethanol production with most cropland being used for livestock feed, exports or left idle to let the land recover. The actual land area used to grow the food Americans eat is much smaller—only about the size of Indiana, Illinois and half of Iowa combined. More than one-third of U.S. land is used for pasture—by far the largest land-use type in the contiguous 48 states. There’s a single, major occupant on all this land: cows. Between cropland —used to produce feed– and pastures, 41 percent of U.S. land in the contiguous states revolves around livestock. All this from Bloomberg.