Thursday, April 23, 2015

Federal officials announce voluntary programs to reduce carbon emissions from agricultural sources

Today federal agricultural officials presented voluntary programs for farmers, ranchers and foresters to reduce agricultural carbon emissions as part of President Barack Obama's efforts to fight global warming, Jeff Karoub reports for The Associated Press.

Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack revealed the plans at Michigan State University, where Obama signed the Farm Bill last year. "The efforts, many of which have their roots in that law, aim to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions, boost carbon capture and storage and come with various enticements, including grants, low-interest loans and technical assistance," Karoub writes.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, left, and President Obama toured the biomass
conversion area at Michigan State University last year. (Associated Press photo)
The agriculture industry is responsible for approximately 9 percent of U.S. emissions, and while that compares favorably with the rest of the world, it could still improve, Vilsack said. "American farmers and ranchers are leaders when it comes to reducing carbon emissions and improving efficiency in their operations," he said. He also noted that officials want to both help the environment and improve agricultural productivity.

Some of the actions outlined in the plan include "reducing the unnecessary use of fertilizer and methane emissions from cattle and swine, reforesting areas damaged by wildfire and disease and encouraging tree planting in urban areas," Karoub reports.

Following the plans would reduce emissions and enhance carbon sequestration by about 120 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, Vilsack's department estimated. That would be like taking 25 million cars off the road per year. (Read more)

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