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Ag producers lead the way in GHG reduction

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

On April 11, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2022,” an annual report which tracks the nation’s GHG emissions and sinks by source and economic sector. 

This year’s report shows agriculture producers are leading the way in GHG reduction through voluntary conservation efforts and market-based incentives with an almost two percent decrease from 2021-22 – the largest of any economic sector. 

“The nearly two percent drop in U.S. agriculture emissions from 2021-22 highlights the success and continued importance of voluntary, market and incentive-based conservation practices which help farmers and ranchers access financing for research and technology needed to take even better care of our natural resources,” writes American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Daniel Munch in the organization’s April 15 Market Intel report. 

Further, Munch notes GHG emissions reported by the ag industry in 2022 were the lowest in the past decade. 

2022 agriculture emissions 

According to the EPA, in 2022 agriculture accounted for 9.99 percent of all U.S. emissions, totaling 634 million metric tons. This represents a decrease of 12 million metric tons or 1.8 percent from the year before. 

The report further breaks down ag emissions by source, including crop cultivation, livestock and fuel combustion. 

In 2022, crop cultivation made up five percent of the total 9.99 percent, with emissions totaling 319 million metric tons, down six million metric tons or 1.7 percent.

At 274 million metric tons, livestock emissions accounted for 4.3 percent of total emissions. This number is down six million metric tons or 2.1 percent from 2021, according to the EPA. 

Additionally, fuel combustion from the ag industry contributed 41 million metric tons, down one million metric tons or 1.2 percent from the previous year, a mere 0.64 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions. 

For livestock specifically, the beef cattle sector reported 137 million metric tons – 2.19 percent – of the nation’s total emissions in 2022. This number is a decrease of 3.3 million metric tons or 2.43 percent from 2021.

The EPA notes dairy cattle contributed 0.77 percent of total emissions at 49 million metric tons, down 451,000 metric tons, while swine, sheep and horses accounted for 0.05 percent, 0.02 percent and 0.02 percent of the nation’s total, respectively. 

Total GHG emissions 

In total, the EPA reports all U.S. GHG emissions from “man-made sources” at 6.34 billion metric tons, up 14 million metric tons from 2021. 

However, with land use, land-use changes and forestry capturing 854 million metric tons – 13 percent – of carbon in soil, 2022 net U.S. GHG emissions totaled 5.5 billion metric tons, up 1.3 percent from 2021. 

The EPA further reports the transportation sector accounted for the greatest amount of GHG emissions at 1.8 billion metric tons or 28 percent of total emissions. This number is a decrease of four million metric tons or 0.2 percent from the year before. 

At 1.57 billion metric tons, electricity generation is second highest, representing 25 percent of total emissions. This is a decrease of 0.4 percent from 2021. 

Next is the industrial sector – which includes the production of input materials like iron, steel and cement – at 1.45 billion metric tons or 23 percent of all emissions, followed by the commercial and residential sectors and the U.S. territories, which all represent 14 percent of total emissions, an increase of 4.78 percent from the year prior. 

Munch concludes, “EPA’s Inventory of GHG Emissions and Sinks shows when agriculture is recognized as a partner in reducing GHG emissions, farmers and ranchers have more opportunities to utilize voluntary, market-based incentives which work to reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint while helping farmers and ranchers economically produce the food, fiber and renewable fuel U.S. families and the world rely on.”

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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