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U.S. Cattle production sustainability
2019-08-26
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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Breakdown in the U.S.

According to the U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory, 2% of U.S. emissions come directly from beef cattle [1](methane from cattle belches, methane and nitrous oxide from manure). Total direct emissions from all agricultural production, crops and livestock collectively, were 8.4% of U.S. emissions in 2017. Agriculture, land use, land use change, and forestry combined in the United States are a net sink of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) emissions, meaning they removed 172 million metric tons of CO2e from the atmosphere in 2017.

What’s the Global Situation Look Like?

Large disparities in emissions intensities, or GHG emissions per lb of beef produced, exist across regions of the world. The U.S. has one of the lowest beef GHG emissions intensities: 10–50 times [2] lower than other parts of the world. Most of this variation is driven by the number of cattle required to produce beef. For example, the U.S. produces around 18% of the world’s beef with 8% of the world’s cattle herd [3]. Fewer cattle required for a given amount of beef produced means fewer GHG emissions and fewer natural resources required to produce human nourishment. The U.S. is a leader in beef production efficiency because of scientific advancements in beef cattle genetics, nutrition, husbandry practices, and biotechnologies.

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