Farm Research Eases Global Warming
Current science-based research is now showing the cheapest way to slow global warming may be through the sustained and increased funding of agricultural research.
Today’s farmers are under intense pressure to grow more on fewer acres, reduce their impact on the environment under more expensive-to-implement regulations, and satisfy consumers needs, all while trying to earn a living. This is on top of the uncertainty of weather and market conditions universal in the farm industry.
Like many of the industries and modern conveniences most of us rely upon and enjoy, the practice of modern agriculture, while technologically advanced, still contributes nitrous oxide and methane to the other greenhouse gases created by civilization. Yet, it now seems that agriculture is actually being credited with preventing greenhouse gases.
California’s Stanford University released research recently stating that, in part, “advances in high-yield agriculture during the latter part of the 20th century prevented massive amounts of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere—the equivalent of 590 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide.”
Basically the research shows what many in the agricultural industry have known for years—by reducing the need to convert forests to farmland, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are never formed. Without research helping to improve agricultural yields, the study estimates there would have been an 18 to 34 percent increase in the total amount of greenhouse gases created over the past 155 years.
When it comes to any climate change legislation, it should be remembered that farmers cannot pass along the increased costs associated with increased regulatory mandates. It is also important to remember that researchers predict the world’s population will require food production to more than double over the next 50 years.
North Carolina has been losing farmland faster than the national average. From 2002–05, North Carolina led the nation in the loss of farmland and forest land. Preserving farmland will continue to be a challenge. The best way to preserve farmland is through profitable farming operations.
North Carolina ranks prominently in the national rankings in poultry and livestock production—the state is second nationally in cash receipts for hogs and turkeys and fifth for broilers (chickens).
Overall, farmers in North Carolina have certainly become more efficient producers as technology has allowed it, while also maintaining their commitment to protecting not only the air, but water and land quality.
Farm Bureau exists to improve the quality of life for farmers and to maintain the economic viability of agriculture, yet to also help growers protect and advance the environmental quality of their operations.