Biden Administration Plans to Cut Methane Emissions Without Reducing Livestock


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Josie Taylor | November 11, 2021

The Biden administration is seeking to drastically cut down on methane emission, and according to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, reducing the number of livestock will not be a priority. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “climate smart” initiatives will focus on new types of animal feed and manure management. 

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that, along with carbon dioxide, is believed to be a driving force of the planet’s warming climate. The new Global Methane Pledge seeks to cut methane emissions by 30 percent this decade.

Cattle are the top source of methane in agriculture. One cow can produce more than 200 pounds of methane each year, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis. Livestock waste also emits methane as it decomposes. There were about 3.7 million cattle and calves in Iowa as of January 2021. 

Earlier last week, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, was skeptical that agricultural methane emissions could be reduced without hurting farmers.

But Vilsack, who was Iowa’s governor for eight years, said specialized diets can reduce methane production in cattle stomachs. He said repeatedly that the administration does not have plans to shrink livestock populations, however they will still find ways to reduce methane in agriculture. 

Reducing methane, without hurting farmers, will ultimately help reduce climate change risks, and in turn will help everyone.