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  (Source: Alaska in Pictures)
Maybe you can have your beef and fight global warming, after all

When it comes to carbon emissions, one of the worst offenders is the farming industry.  It's estimated that the large land mammals some of us like to munch on (or drink milk from) produce over 500 million tons of emissions in the U.S. alone, approximately 7 percent of our nation's total carbon burden.  That's about a third of the emissions of transportation and electricity generation, which are around 1,750 million tons and 2,250 million tons, respectively, according to EPA estimates.

While transportation and lifestyle are essential to modern society, some are advocating cutting down on meat and dairy products as they are more of a luxury and not a nutritional or economic necessity.  However, that may not be necessary thanks to a new deal brokered by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the U.S. dairy industry.

Under the agreement the dairy farmers promise to cut their emissions by 25 percent by 2020, some of the most ambitious cuts promised by any U.S. industry.  This green leadership is a great deal for everyone according to Secretary Vilsack, who states, "This historic agreement, the first of its kind, will help us achieve the ambitious goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions while benefiting farmers.  (The) use of manure of technology is win for everyone."

The planned fix is full of manure -- literally.  Under the plan, more farmers will purchase anaerobic digesters, a device that uses the methane gas produced by cow manure to produce green electricity. 

Currently only 2 percent of farms have the special generators as they are quite expensive.  The new agreement looks to encourage farmers with large farms -- farms with more than 100 cows -- to buy the devices, while sparing smaller farmers the economic burden.  According to the Associated Press, there are 60,000 dairy farms in the U.S. with about 9 million cows.  About 23 percent of those are large farms with more than 100 cows, while the remaining majority are smaller farms.

Thomas Gallagher, the chief executive officer of the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and Dairy Management Inc., is confident in being able to deliver on the agreement despite the fact that small farms won't easily be able to deploy the expensive greentech.  He states, "This memorandum came about because of the commitment of U.S. dairy farmers and the dairy industry to a sustainable future.  Sustainability goes hand-in-hand with our heritage of taking care of the land and natural resources while producing nutritious products that consumers want."





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