Carbon Emissions from Agriculture – Data Gathering to Begin Soon

What is your carbon footprint?  How can you best sequester carbon?  The answer to these questions may soon be available.

Consistent with Section 2709 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, the USDA has published a notice in the Friday, February 18, 2011, Federal Register seeking public comment on a new effort to provide methods that will help farmers, ranchers, and forest land owners to assess their greenhouse gas (GHG) footprint.

According to the notice in the Federal Register, “…the methods will be used by farmers and by USDA to improve management practices and to identify actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase carbon sequestration.”

The guidelines that will be developed are not intended to replace any other Federal GHG reporting systems or requirements.  So what will the use of the end product (methods to measure GHG emission) be? According to the notice, “…aiding (1) USDA in assessing GHG and carbon sequestration increases and decreases resulting from current and future conservation programs and practices; (2) USDA and others in evaluating and improving national and regional GHG inventory efforts; and (3) landowners, NGOs, and other groups assessing increases and decreases in GHG emissions and carbon sequestration associated with changes in land management.”

USDA estimates that this project will take approximately three years to complete.

This announcement is yet another indication that agriculture is facing many of the same overall “environmental management pressures” once thought only to apply to the world of manufacturing. 

Here is a link to the announcement in the Federal Register http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-02-18/html/2011-3731.htm.

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