sions (especially from feed production) and other negative
While not applicable in the absence of an economy-
wide price on carbon, there is a further di erence between
climate-friendly practices and carbon farming: the for-
mer focuses on the production of agricultural goods
while reducing greenhouse gas emissions; the latter views
increased carbon soil sequestration as a goal. As discu ssed
below, the United States now uses hundreds of millions
of acres of land to grow crops that are largely wasted or
used ineciently to produce corn ethanol, sweeteners, or
highly processed an imal products. With a price on carbon,
soil carbon sequestration could become one of the primar y
uses of this land, while farmers would be compensated for
sequestering practices. e result could be a signicant
increase in the carbon sink .
Decisionmakers should prioritize climate-friendly prac-
tices that reinforce carbon farming systems. A lthough
many Republican leaders, as well a s rural voters, tend
to ignore or doubt climate science, the many benets of
climate-friendly practices provide independent reasons for
their adoption. Althou gh not the norm currently—and
not widely supported by agrochemical companies and
other traditional sources of information— climate-friendly
practices almost always improve soil health and thus can
increase farm yield, enha nce resilience to climate change,
and often increase protability (especially over the longer
term). us, decisionmakers, regardless of their position
on climate change, should strongly support broader adop-
tion of these practices to assist fa rmers, ranchers, and rural
communities, and to protect basic environmental needs
such as clean air and water.
is chapter focuses on agricultural emissions because
agriculture presents a unique and complex set of chal lenges
and opportunities. Nonetheless , to aid readers in de velop-
ing a comprehensive understanding of possible and neces-
sary emissions reductions, the chapter a lso briey addresses
avenues to reduce emissions from other components of the
food system, discussed in det ail elsewhere.
Section II discusses a griculture’s role in deep decarbon-
ization. It also examines the on-eld strategies, practices,
and technologies available to increase soil ca rbon seques-
tration and reduce agricultura l emissions. (Fisheries and
aquaculture are also important parts of the food system
but, as they present very dierent greenhouse gas a nd legal
issues, they are not addressed in t his chapter.)
Section III details public law pathways —amending
existing federal a nd state legal regimes a nd enacting new
ones—for reducing net agricultural emissions. It begins
by identifying pathways for improving public agricul-
tural research, development, and extension eorts, and
then considers opportunities to reform federal subsidy and
conservation programs. e section also evaluates trade
policy, tax policy, regulatory strategies, nancing for car-
bon farming, grazing practices on government land, and
greenhous e gas pricing.
Section IV describes non-public law approaches, focus-
ing on how the private and philanthropic sectors can
stimulate carbon farm ing. e topics covered include agri-
cultural resea rch, nancing for carbon farming, measu ring
carbon content, conservation tools, and oset markets.
Section V looks at overall food system emissions. It
provides an overview of strategies for reducing upstream
emissions—those that stem f rom farm inputs—and down-
stream emissions—t hose that result from food processing,
distribution, consumption, and waste.
Finally, Section VI examines the potential to encour-
age the consumption of climate-friendly foods throug h
national dietary guidelines, procurement at all levels of
government, as well as through private-sector initiatives,
such as certication schemes and healthier menu options.
Section VII concludes.
II. Agriculture’s Role in Deep
A. Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Food System
e food system encompasses the full life cycle of food.
In addition to agriculture, this includes activities that take
place o the farm—from the pre-planting conversion of
native grasslands a nd production of agricultura l chemicals,
for example, to the post-harvest distribution, consump-
tion, and disposal of food.2 e food system is responsible
for an estimated 19%-29% of both national and global
greenhous e gas emissions. 3 Decisionmakers must approach
the food system as a whole to craft laws and policies that
address the system’s full complement of social, nutritional,
and environmental i mpacts.
2. Sonja Vermeulen et al., Climate Change and Food Systems, 37 A. R.
E’ R 195, 198-202 (2012).
3. Id. at 195. GRAIN, an international research and advocacy organization,
estimates that emissions from the food system are as high as 44%-57%
of global emissions. GRAIN, Commentary IV: Food, Climate Change, and
Healthy Soils: e Forgotten Link, in T E R
2013, at 19-20 (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development