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 can degrade natural resources and the environment; other practices can preserve and enhance our natural heritage and provide substantial benefits through careful management of agricultural land. USDA's conservation programs help agricultural producers improve their environmental performance with respect to soil quality, water quality, air quality, wildlife habitat, and greenhouse gas emissions.
ERS examines the relationship between agriculture and environmental quality by analyzing the use and efficacy of conservation practices; environmental impacts of production practices and management decisions; and the role of Federal programs and policies.
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.