United States

North America is facing an unsustainable agricultural future. Local conservation initiatives and strategic national policy changes can help shift course.

Outsized climate contributions

In 2013, US agriculture accounted for 1% of the national GDP, but contributed to 10% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Irrigating our way to trouble

Over half of US land is devoted to agriculture, 40% of which are irrigated farms. In 2005, agriculture represented 85% of the country’s water consumption, defined as water that is not returned to the soil.

Dirty livestock industry

70% of American beef comes from industrial farms where cows deficate inside of covered enclosures. In the US, animal excrement polluted 56.3 million kilometers of waterways in 22 states. Accumulation of livestock waste also produces 400 different kinds of noxious gasses.

Small changes can have big impacts

The USDA estimated that reducing water usage by 10% could save US$200 million per year in fuel costs alone.

Our Efforts

Supporting new approaches

The agriculture industry of the region is laden with challenges. However, recent censuses of both Canadian and American agriculture reveals a rising trend in the prominence of organic farming and other sustainable methods. EcoAgriculture Partners has joined a coalition of organizations, Solutions from the Land, in the push for a new paradigm for American agriculture. This push towards sustainability in the industry is gaining traction as increased societal concern about the adverse relationships between poor land management, climate change, biodiversity, and rural and urban community health, expressed in consumer demand for eco-friendly and locally-produced foods. 

Revealing PES success

EcoAgriculture Partners worked with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Office of Environmental Markets to study and describe, in a series of detailed case studies and posters, innovative payments for ecosystem service (PES) projects in the Farms of the Future Project. This initiative raised the profile of working farms, forests, and ranches that supplement traditional income by generating new revenue from ecosystem service provision, in the form of improved water quality, biodiversity conservation, wildlife habitat, flood control and carbon sequestration. Our case studies highlighted key lessons learned to demonstrate these innovations within USDA, to researchers and to the public.

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