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Latest Agriculture Emissions Data Show Rise of Factory Farms

Latest Agriculture Emissions Data Show Rise of Factory Farms

Ben Lilliston

New data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows a steady increase in agriculture-related greenhouse gas emissions, much of it linked to industrial systems of crop production and the rise of factory farm systems of animal production. The annually updated GHG data is designed to track U.S. emissions related to the Paris Climate Agreement and to inform national and state-level climate policy.

Thanks Ben Lilliston for such an effective overview of the agricultural emissions data. I have been curious about these numbers for years but not had the industry to ferret them out on my own. To move forward we need to modify our decision-making apparatuses to remove the economic externalities of greenhouse gas emission. Nature is very good at building soil that supports the part of the food web that humans consume, including animals. Hyper-financialized capitalistic industrial farming just can’t stand nature’s concept of intrinsic balance–which might be best called holism. Until our decision-making apparatuses are so modified (to include this issue and basically every other one on the planet) we are doomed as a species to further devastate this beautiful blue ball we call home. It is really no longer a home, but more of a house at this point in time. It is devolving to a prison (for us and many other forms of life). It might further end up as a rock at some point. Why? “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”


Eco (vegan)-socialism is the only long-term solution.

I don’t understand why pig and cow farms are allowed to get so big, I read of a farm worker who fell into a manure lagoon and died very quickly—why is TOO BIG allowed to exist?. In the Carolinas, i read of farms "broadcasting, " their manure and people living near these farms with that animal poo ---- having giant sprinklers spraying all day long! The People cannot go outside when sprinklers are spraying—because the air is compromised, and some of the broadcast poo sticks to people s ’ houses.
Maybe Americans should go back and create a religion that celebrates outside in fields----and because of the right to freely practice their religion—poo spraying would be denied! Or maybe it’s a religion worshiping CLEAN AIR, and farms could not impeded that religious right. I think environmentalists need to work on religious rights to breathe air , drink non-polluted water and plant on a CLEAN Earth. Congress won’t be able to abridge this guaranteed FREEDOM of Religion right of the 1st Amendment! : ) Yes this sounds weird but if your religion is the Earth—why would anyone want it to be allowed to be polluted?

We have our own sadly disgusting story here in Oregon . . . one that actually defies belief.

A no brainer. Small farmers have no better chance of competing against the big corporate farms than any of the other small business that have been driven out by the economy of scale.

Corporate religion is not earth. The earth, the oceans and the atmosphere are just the places where industry off loads their pollution at little or no cost.

And were there impact statements to deal with before up-sizing?

Perhaps the mega-farms are planning a " Thunderdome" Turn all that pig shi into a power source.

It’s just dollar motivation and economics of scale.

Hi tennegon: OMG-----it’ s name of Lost Valley really , but sadly makes sense, as the land is ruined and water is contaminated. Where are humans and creatures supposed to find drinkable water—? Cows drink water and produce milk, and oh what are we drinking in the milk. TOO BIG of ANYTHING will fail. I am sorry for you having to Iive near this----I am wondering—is there ay place in America that still has clean water? : 0

Hi sbrownn: The "economy of scale, " sounds like a killer. When Disneyland tore up all the orange groves long, long ago-----we should have seen this coming. : (

A major issue gets ignored here and in general.

Outside of the atmosphere, the greatest repository of these chemicals is the soil, including living organisms within the soil. The second greatest repository is living organisms not inside the soil.

The sort of agriculture that became “standard” in the latter 20th century attempts to extract wealth from the land, return a few bags of chemical, drive and ship and fly product back and forth across the globe, and then pretend that the system is particularly productive because it appears to gain dollars.

Permaculture and similar systems or related subsystems can return more to the soil than they take. That includes Masonobu Fukuoka’s natural farming, Ernst Gotsch’s Syntropic Agriculture, Sepp Holzer’s work at Krameterhof and elsewhere, Allan Savory’s integrated management, “carbon farming,” to some extent the Cuban organoponicos, at least some of the descendants of Rodale-school organic farming, and surely others whom I do not know.

Adopting such measures would solve a lot of other problems as well as climate-related things.

I’ve seen much higher numbers elsewhere for ag’s contribution. I always wonder how these numbers are derived; I don’t think much of it is direct measurement. Rather, someone does some sampling, an average number per megawatt hour of gas plant burning or per cow or whatever, then calculations are made. So the gas industry gets away with emitting much more methane into the actual air than makes it into the statistics. According to the charts in this piece, rice farming and even fertilizer are minor sources–it’s mostly soil working and methane from cows. If the same number of cows were distributed onto a hundred times as many small farms and their manure spread onto cropland, how would that affect the numbers? I’ve read claims both ways about grassfed versus grainfed cattle in terms of emissions–what’s the truth there? What about Drawdown’s claim that feeding cattle on red algae seaweed virtually eliminates methane and enhances beef or milk production–is it true and how much could be done this way? About that number one factor, soil working–what exactly is involved here?