Natural Resources & Environment
The Earth's temperature is rising as a result of increased atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases. Agriculture is a source of methane and nitrous oxide emissions, two prominent greenhouse gases. Changes in agricultural practices can reduce emissions of these gases, and reduce atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide by sequestering carbon in soil.
Some farming practices (excess fertilization and manure, for example) can degrade our Nation's natural resources while others (such as preserving land for wildlife) can enhance our natural heritage. USDA conservation programs offer producers a range of options for assistance with conservation efforts.
ERS analyzes the use and efficacy of conservation practices and of Federal programs and policies aimed at combating the harmful effects of agriculture as they relate to soil quality, water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat, and wetlands preservation.
Consumer demand for organically produced goods has shown double-digit growth for well over a decade, providing market incentives for U.S. farmers across a broad range of products. Growth in organic agricultural production is occurring in both developed and developing countries worldwide, and the competition for major consumer markets in developed countries, particularly the United States and Europe, is increasing. ERS research on organic agriculture looks at these issues, and the chapter on organic trade has been updated with this release.