The U.S. agriculture and forestry sectors can play an important role in limiting the build-up of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere. Conservation and land management practices can reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide associated with crop and livestock production; increase the quantity of carbon stored in soils and above ground vegetation; and generate renewable fuels that recycle carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
USDA supports a variety of efforts and tools to estimate GHG emissions from agriculture and forestry, and the potential for GHG mitigation through conservation practices and carbon sequestration. USDA regularly releases an inventory of agriculture and forestry emissions and also supports the EPA’s annual GHG inventory.
Tools and Methods
COMET-Farm is an interactive online tool to estimate whole-farm, ranch, and forestry emissions and mitigation options.
- Forest Management for Carbon Benefits
This module of the Climate Change Resource Center provides resources, including topic overviews, tools, videos and short-courses, on carbon management in forests and grasslands.
- Quantifying Greenhouse Gas Fluxes in Agriculture and Forestry: Methods for Entity-Scale Inventory
This USDA report recommends methods to estimate changes in GHG emissions and carbon storage at the entity-scale for croplands, grasslands, livestock, forestry, wetlands, and land use change.
- U.S. Agriculture and Forestry Greenhouse Gas Inventory: 1990-2018 (PDF, 17.6 MB)
USDA’s greenhouse gas inventory (this edition published in January 2022) contains information on GHG emissions and sinks in agriculture and forestry for the years 1990 to 2013 disaggregated by State. Data from this report can be downloaded from the USDA Ag Data Commons.
Previous USDA Inventories:
1990-2013 USDA Greenhouse Gas Inventory
1990-2008 USDA Greenhouse Gas Inventory
1990-2005 USDA Greenhouse Gas Inventory
1990-2001 USDA Greenhouse Gas Inventory
- Renewable Energy Trends, Options, and Potentials for Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural America (PDF, 5.7 MB)
This 2020 report discusses adoption costs, adoption benefits, and challenges to the expansion of renewable energy technologies and systems, and discusses the roles federal and state policies in renewable energy system development and adoption.
- A Life-Cycle Analysis of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Corn-Based Ethanol
This 2018 report by ICF and supported by USDA estimates the greenhouse gas emissions associated with corn-based ethanol production.
- Projecting Landscape Forest Carbon Emissions from Changes in Forest Biomass Electricity Generation and Forest Products Markets from 2014 to 2035: An Analysis in Minnesota, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. Assessment of potential impacts on forest landscape carbon levels that would accompany hypothetical changes in the generation of electricity using forest biomass at the state level.
- Managing Agricultural Land for Greenhouse Gas Mitigation within the United States
This ICF report from 2016 presents an analysis of the GHG mitigation potential associated with changes in U.S. agricultural management practices as well as Marginal Abatement Cost Curves for each practice.
- USDA Integrated Projections for Agriculture and Forest Sector Land Use, Land-Use Change, and GHG Emissions and Removals: 2015 to 2060
This USDA report from 2016 outlines projections for agriculture, forestry, and land use emissions for 2015 to 2060.
- Climate Change and the Land Sector: Improving Measurement, Mitigation and Resilience of our Natural Resources
This inter-agency report from 2015 details planning improvements in GHG inventories, emissions projections, and mitigation activities in the land sector.
- Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Options and Costs for Agricultural Land and Animal Production within the United States
The purpose of this 2013 report is to identify and describe specific technologies and practices that farmers could adopt in their crop and livestock production systems and in their land management decisions that would result in net greenhouse gas mitigation.