Agriculture and carbon sequestration.

by | May 3, 2022

Today’s Topic
  • Last week we hosted a roundtable discussion with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, EPA Administrator Michael Regan and industry leaders on how federal and state partners are working together to build a more resilient food and agriculture system in response to recent supply chain challenges and increasing impacts of climate change.
  • Last week we were honored to host USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and EPA Administrator Michael Regan for a roundtable discussion here in Raleigh.
  • Michael Regan, of course, previously served with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Raleigh before heading to Washington D.C. to lead EPA.
  • It was a great discussion and I was pleased to hear that the two agencies are committed to working together on Climate Smart initiatives for common sense answers.
  • One of the biggest take-aways that I wanted to stress with them is that in North Carolina, agriculture is carbon negative and the industry sequesters 26 percent of offsets in the state.
  • That is significant, but it often gets lost in the discussions regarding the climate and the contributions of agriculture.
  • Farmers have a direct, vested and personal interest in caring for our natural resources. They are forward thinking and are accustomed to doing more with less, especially in uncertain times like we are in today.
  • The land they farm provides their livelihood. If farmers don’t take care of the land and water, those resources will not continue to provide for them.
  • Many farmers I know share the philosophy of, “leave the Earth better than you found it.”
  • Farmers are good stewards of our natural resources, and the industry continues to look for new opportunities.
  • Agriculture is being looked at as a leader in conservation practices, as it should be. Data in the 2020 Greenhouse Gas Inventory Report released by EPA a couple weeks ago points to agriculture’s contributions.
  • Calculations provided by American Farm Bureau with EPA data shows that over the past 20 years, agriculture greenhouse gas emissions have slightly increased. However, farmers are faced with reducing their footprint while simultaneously feeding more people AND on less land.
  • Transportation and electricity are the largest contributors (27% and ~25%) of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
  • Conservation practices farmers have been using for the past 50+ years are ones we are still talking about today-including no-till crops, cover crops, anaerobic digesters, nutrient management and conservation cover.
  • Farmers should be applauded, recognized, and included in potential federal government programs for their stewardship in the past, present and future.
  • Our forestry and land-use practices capture and sequester carbon to go back into the land, again, around 26 percent.
  • When you look at the percentage of this amount captured by our industry and subtract it from the overall greenhouse gas emissions of the agricultural industry, the final calculation is a negative footprint (-2%). But that is not the narrative portrayed.
  • One of the things we want to do is to plant more trees in North Carolina, something we have been asking for federal support to do for some time now.
  • Recent detections of emerald ash borers in two more North Carolina counties serve as a reminder that we need to be mindful of our forest resources especially as they come under frequent attack by destructive pests.
  • I mentioned the tree killing emerald ash borers which have now been found in 62 counties in our state, but there are also other destructive pests including hemlock wooly adelgids and gypsy moths.
  • We are blessed with a lush, green state, but we must continue to plant trees to ensure healthy forests in the future.
  • I appreciate Secretary Vilsack and Administrator Regan’s visit and willingness to meet with members of North Carolina’s agriculture community.