Policy Solutions

Agricultural Methane Abatement

US Federal
Agriculture

Research and Development

Federal investment in research and development (R&D) supports economic growth, drives down costs for key technologies that can be used domestically and exported abroad, and promotes U.S. leadership on clean energy and climate. Investment in R&D for agricultural methane abatement is driven primarily by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Further R&D comes from the Department of Energy (DOE) national labs and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). 

Federal policymakers should increase investment and enact programmatic reforms to ensure a focus on advancing R&D for:

  • Livestock feed additives;
  • Genetics research to improve breeding strategies;
  • Methane digesters; and
  • Landfill methane collection efficiency.

Validation and Early Deployment

Demonstration

Before we can deploy promising clean energy technologies at scale, we must demonstrate and validate their cost and performance in real-world conditions. Demonstration projects reduce the economic and institutional risks of new technologies, so the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) should coordinate with DOE on a robust portfolio of demonstration projects to abate agricultural methane, including methane digesters.

Fiscal Incentives

Federal tax credits, rebates, and other fiscal incentives can encourage the early deployment of methane-reduction technologies and practices in the agricultural sector. Fiscal incentives to farms, such as loan guarantees and grants, can also validate advanced technologies and reduce costs. Federal incentives for waste infrastructure provide options for downstream reductions in methane emissions from waste.

Procurement

Requiring federal agencies and federally funded programs to promote best practices and technologies in sourcing goods and handling waste can validate and accelerate their adoption. Likewise, federal procurement requirements can offer incentives to farms, facilities, and workers who implement methane and waste-reducing practices and technologies.

Rapid, Large Scale Deployment

Federal Mandates

Federal mandates requiring methane reductions from large-scale agricultural and waste-handling facilities can drive deep decarbonization across the sector. For instance, regulating methane emissions from new and existing concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) under the Clean Air Act could dramatically reduce methane emissions, reduce air pollution, and improve water quality. Federal mandates targeting waste and the removal of organic materials from the waste stream can also result in deep reductions in methane emissions and improvements in air quality.

Federal Crop Insurance Reform

Large-scale deployment of methane-reducing practices and technologies can also be achieved by modifying existing policy. Linking funding and crop insurance to lower-methane practices could accelerate their use across the agricultural sector. Likewise, federal funding to regional USDA offices and land-grant institutions can provide additional support to farmers and producers who adopt advanced methane-reducing technologies.

Clean Fuel Standard

Low-GHG biofuels made from agricultural products, biomass, and waste reduce transportation emissions and lower methane levels from waste handling and decomposition. Federal clean fuel policies that support agricultural and waste-based fuels can spur their widescale adoption and result in deep decarbonization. It can also provide certainty to producers who make near-term capital investments in those fuels, including advanced biofuels. A clean fuel standard must also account for potential air quality impacts related to biofuels and ensure that direct environmental and economic benefits accrue to rural and historically disadvantaged communities.