The United States has been practicing conservation and sustainability long before they became the issues they are today.
Here are 10 facts about U.S. sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries:
- The current Clean Water Act in the U.S. dates back to 1948 with the objective to ensure clean, abundant water supplies. Its provisions also help to protect fish and other organisms in U.S. waters.
- Since the 1950s, all Alaska seafood is harvested on the sustainable yield principle as mandated by the State of Alaska Constitution, which states that: “Fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenishable resources belonging to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle.”
- Since the 1980s, the U.S. Soy sector has:
- Decreased energy use by 35% per hectare of U.S. soybean production;
- Decreased greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 38% per hectare of U.S. soybeans;
- Decreased soil erosion by 47% per hectare of U.S. soy production.
- The U.S. Dairy sector has:
- Reduced dairy-related greenhouse gas emissions by 63% over the past 60 years;
- Committed to a voluntary goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the production of fluid milk by 25 percent by the year 2022.
- The U.S. Clean Air Act was enacted in 1955 and has been revised since the 1970s to set air standards nationwide and require the use of technology to improve air quality.
- Since the early 1970s, the Endangered Species Act protects both animals and their habitats when they are in danger of extinction.
- The Field to Market survey determined that from 1980 – 2015, U.S. Rice improved on measures of resource “efficiency,” with decreases (in per hundredweight) in land use (-39%); soil erosion (-28%); irrigation water (-52%); energy use (-34%); and greenhouse gas emissions (-41%).
- American Hardwoods are derived from sustainably-managed forests in the United States. Forest inventories demonstrate that between 1953 and 2007, the volume of U.S. hardwood growing stock more than doubled from 5,210 million to 11,326 million m3.
- From 1980 – 2015, U.S. Corn producers achieved declines per unit of production in soil erosion (-58%); irrigation (-46%); energy use (-41%); and greenhouse gas emissions (-31%).
- On April 27, 1935, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 74-46, in which it recognized that “the wastage of soil and moisture resources on farm, grazing, and forest lands . . . is a menace to the national welfare.” Thus, for 80 years, the Natural Resources Conservation Service has been a pioneer in conservation, working with landowners to maintain healthy and productive lands, helping not only the environment but U.S. sustainable agriculture.
Bonus Fact: Did you know that 99% of all farms in the United States are owned and operated by families? To learn more about the farmers, read our blog series on family farms and watch our featured videos.
To learn more about the sustainability practices of various industries please visit our fact sheets page.
This blog is an update to the original post, published in December 2015.