The topic of sustainability is in the social consciousness more now than ever before. From consumers wanting sustainable products at the grocery store to large corporations committing to sustainable emissions efforts, almost all of us would like to do our part in conserving natural resources and keeping our planet healthy. This includes America’s farmers—and the truth is that farmers and ranchers have been “going green” for decades, long before the negative effects of climate change became glaringly apparent and sustainability gained in public popularity.
America’s Farmers Are Global Leaders
U.S. agriculture is a global leader when it comes to sustainability. The farmers and ranchers in this country have been leading the charge in climate-smart practices for some time, and we have a lot to learn from them.
Americans have a high trust level in farmers and ranchers when it comes to sustainability, sustainably grown food in particular. According to a recent American Farm Bureau public opinion poll, 87% of Americans have a high trust level in farmers and ranchers. And that same level of trust should translate to sustainable emissions and business practices.
Over the last three decades, America’s farmers and ranchers have decreased their emissions by 15%. 30 years ago, it would have taken 100 million more acres to produce the same amount of crops that come from today’s farms. The U.S. agricultural industry now makes up only 10% of greenhouse gas emissions—that’s a significant number when you consider that industries like electricity and transportation account for much more.
Using Technology to Boost Sustainability
What makes farmers and ranchers so good at curbing emissions and operating in a sustainable fashion? Technology plays a big part. Modern irrigation systems, for example, allow farmers to use less water while yielding the same result, and technology also allows them to pinpoint the use of fertilizers and pesticides to be more effective and environmentally friendly. New tools like smarter tractors and better seeds also play a role.
Using renewable energy on farms and ranches is another way that these professionals are changing the tide when it comes to sustainable farming practices. In recent years, the use of renewable energy sources like solar panels, windmills, and methane digesters have nearly tripled on American farms. And farmers across America have enrolled 140 million acres of land into conservation programs, meaning the future of conservation and sustainable farming is looking bright.