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Farmers and timber owners are kings of carbon…carbon storage, that is. We’ve been turning carbon into oxygen since, well, forever.

Negative 2%. That’s how much agriculture contributes to overall greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the U.S. when carbon-absorbing practices are factored in.

Carbon can be captured by increasing below-ground plant matter and properly managing forests, cropland, wetlands and grasslands. This offsets GHG emissions and reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide.

Alabama is 71% forested — and has 23.1 million acres of forestland. This timber acreage ranks third in the U.S. among the lower 48 states. Alabama forests store about 1.16 billion metric tons of carbon.

Carbon-capturing practices on farms include planting cover crops for winter, using no-till or reduced tillage during planting and nutrient management.

As farms become more efficient, livestock emissions have decreased thanks to improvements in feed and production. Livestock make up less than 4% of overall U.S. emissions. 

Completely natural cattle-generated gases are on the decline. These differ from fossil fuel emissions. Between 1961 and 2018, the U.S. beef industry reduced emissions per pound of beef produced by more than 40% while increasing production by more than 66% per animal. 

Poultry’s environmental footprint has decreased by half since 1965. Chicken farmers have reduced greenhouse gases by 36%.

It helps that chicken production is extremely local. Total travel-time from hatchery to farm to processing plant is usually no more than one hour, which cuts down on emissions.

Additional Resources:

· Down To Earth: Farmers And Forest Landowners Reduce Carbon Emissions Neighbors Magazine, May 2022

· Soil Carbon: Food for the Soil Alabama Cooperative Extension System, April 2022

· Cattle's Role in Carbon Hartselle Enquirer, contributor Alabama Cooperative Extension System

· Alabama's Forests: Clearing the Air Alabama Cooperative Extension System, April 2022

· Carbon Credits: Crop Producers' Latest Role in Sustainability Alabama Cooperative Extension System, April 2022

· Beef Cattle: Earth's Carbon Vaccuum Alabama Cooperative Extension System, May 2022

· Alabama Poultry's Environmental Excellence Alabama Cooperative Extension System, May 2022

· Beef Cattle: Environmental Benefits, Not Burdens Alabama Cooperative Extension System, May 2022

· The Helping Hands: Alabama Extension's Role in Carbon Alabama Cooperative Extension System, May 2022

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