The impact of food and agriculture on our climate crisis cannot be ignored. While the CAP Greenhouse Gas Inventory did not include agriculture and land use in this initial iteration, GHG emissions resulting from these sectors on a national level are about 10% of total emissions. Agricultural land, whether it’s small urban or big family farms and ranches, uses 57% of the total land within the planning area and generates nearly $550 million in total commodities.
With over 80% of our region’s population living (and eating) in cities, metropolitan areas have significant power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by taking action to support and advocate for food and agriculture advancements that will reduce GHG emissions, improve the livelihoods of the people who get food to our table and biomass into our fuel, and ensure that all of our residents have access to affordable, quality food.
Local and sustainable food production ― and supporting demand and access to that food ― is a key way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better nourish our communities. Bringing food production closer to consumers decreases the distance and length of time the food must travel, preserving nutritive value and food quality. GHG emissions can be reduced by preventing food, as food waste or excess food, from going to landfills where organic matter anaerobically breaks down and produces methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases.
Sequestration—or the drawing down and storage of carbon in plants and soil—is an essential strategy within the food system landscape. farmers and ranchers can use regenerative agriculture practices, such as cover-cropping, zero tillage, agroforestry, intercropping, grazing management, and other livestock management practices. These practices consider the farm and surrounding ecology holistically and better place farmers to sequester more carbon, while also reversing negative environmental impacts. Regenerative agricultural practices achieve this through soil fertility, biodiversity, watershed restoration and conservation practices. Farms that employ these practices can be more productive over conventional agriculture practices and are often more resilient in the face of weather extremes.
Climate change poses a significant threat to food security, and not only in places around the world with food scarcity due to drought, flooding, or harsh economic environments. Climate change can impact food supply chains and exacerbate food insecurities that already exist, even in economically vital urban areas like Kansas City.
This plan emphasizes the opportunity and need to transform the local food system to better serve the environment, public health, and the economy. The COVID-19 pandemic focused attention on the GHG Reduction: vulnerabilities of our food supply chains and sparked interest in local food production as a means of building resilience, and also shined a brighter light on food insecurity and health inequities in our community. A local food system is nimbler and can more easily adapt to rapidly changing environments and markets.
The Kansas City region has a strong network of institutions, organizations and individuals that support food policy, local agricultural, food security and equity. The goals and strategies in this section support and build upon the work already underway.
Food and agriculture were not included in the Greenhouse Gas Inventory and strategies were not modeled for reduction potential. However, the following strategies related to this sector offer a high potential for GHG reduction.
Top reduction strategies
- Increase productivity per acre
- Reduce livestock emissions
- Reduce emissions from fertilizer use
- Support on-farm renewable energy and energy efficiency
- Soil carbon sinks (regenerative agriculture and use of compost)
- Reduce food waste and loss