Reducing Our Foodprint


by Ben Lilliston | April 9, 2009 • Agriculture has a unique place in the debate on what to do about climate change. Perhaps no sector is more affected by changes in climate. Already farmers around the world are experiencing first-hand the effects of climate change. Agriculture and our food system is also a contributor to climate change—particularly energy intensive industrial agriculture. And finally, agriculture also has the potential to be a mitigator of climate change through carbon sequestration.

Think Forward is a blog written by staff of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy covering sustainability as it intersects with food, rural development, international trade, the environment and public health. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems around the world through research and education, science and technology, and advocacy.

A new IATP paper, Identifying Our Climate Foodprint, examines the entire U.S. food chain, from agriculture production through processing, transportation and consumption. It assesses what we know on each step’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and makes recommendations on how to transition toward a more climate-friendly system.

The paper concludes that throughout the food chain, it is industrial farming systems that depend on massive resource inputs (such as synthetic fertilizers) for crops and livestock that are by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases

“The good news is that by transitioning toward more sustainable practices on the farm, we can better adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change,” said co-author Jim Kleinschmit in our press release. “Many farmers, food companies and consumers are already implementing climate-friendly practices. Now we need smarter public policy to make the larger systemic changes we need.”

Check out the full report and find out what you can do to reduce your climate foodprint.