Land and Natural Resources
U.S. agricultural production relies heavily on the Nation’s land, water, and other natural resources, and has a direct impact on the quality of the Nation’s natural environment. Over the years, improvement in the sector’s productive use of resources has reduced the amount of land and water needed per unit of output, and concerted public and private efforts have improved the sector’s environmental performance. These charts illustrate several aspects of these trends.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that agriculture, including its electricity consumption, accounted for an estimated 10.6 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2021. Globally, carbon dioxide emissions are the largest contributor to climate change. However, the emissions profile for agriculture differs from that of the overall economy. In agriculture, crop and livestock activities emit nitrous oxide and methane, mainly from fertilizer application, enteric fermentation (a normal digestive process in animals that produces methane), and manure storage and management. GHG emissions from U.S. agriculture have increased by approximately 6.9 percent since 1990, while total U.S. GHG emissions in 2021 were 2.3 percent lower than they were in 1990.