Pork’s real green story clears the air

Recently, there’s been more negative environmental news in the media regarding livestock, and consequently, pork production, regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Most notably, this new round of misinformation has been quoted by Paul McCartney, which has garnered some wider media interest. However, the Pork Checkoff is prepared to share the real facts with producers and the public as it continues to take a leading role in making sure the industry stays on top of this issue.

“U.S. pork producers are among some of the most efficient and environmentally conscious food producers in the world,” says Allan Stokes, director of environmental programs for the Pork Checkoff. “Producers have a long history and tradition of providing a high quality, safe and nutrition dense food source to help feed the world’s population. The industry’s carbon footprint initiative is actively researching ways to increase production efficiencies in environmentally sustainable ways essentially reducing GHG emissions per pound of food produced.”

According to the 2008 United Nation’s, Framework Convention on Climate Change November 2008 technical report on Challenges and opportunities for mitigation in the agricultural sector, agriculture contributes 10 to 12 percent of the total global man-made GHG emissions. On a global scale, the main sources of non-CO2 GHG emissions from agriculture are: soils, enteric fermentation, manure management and rice cultivation. Most notably, the report says GHGs from land-use change, including deforestation in tropical areas, are (in most countries) associated with agricultural activities and exceed emissions from all other agricultural sources.

Livestock is not a major contributor to GHG emissions. And more specifically, pork production’s carbon footprint is a small fraction of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, says Stokes. “Animal agriculture as a whole contributes a small part of U.S.GHG emissions. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 2007 only 2.8 percent of U.S. GHG emissions came from animal agriculture and pork production contributes even less–a mere one-third of one percent (0.33%) of total U.S. GHG emissions.”

To learn more about Checkoff’s work in this area and more specifics on pork’s carbon footprint, click here.

For more information, contact Allan Stokes, AStokes@pork.org, 515-223-3447.

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