Climate Smart Commodities

How Commodities Affect Climate Change

The world today is much more conscious of keeping our earth green and working hard to do its part to defend against climate change. Specifically in agriculture, farmers are utilizing practices in their crop commodity production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon. These practices implement climate-smart production practices, activities, and systems on working lands in order to develop markets and promote climate-smart commodities. Below are frequently asked questions about agriculture and climate change.

How Commodities Affect Climate Change

Q. What is the difference between global warming and climate change?

The terms “global warming” and “climate change” are sometimes used interchangeably, but global warming is just one of the ways in which climate is affected by rising concentrations of greenhouse gases. “Global warming” describes the recent rise in the global average temperature near the earth’s surface, which is caused mostly by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere from human activities like burning fossil fuels for energy.

Because agricultural systems are human dominated ecosystems, the effect of agriculture on climate change is strongly dependent on the intentional actions taken by humans to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Learn more about the difference between global warming and climate change here.


Q. How are agriculture and climate change related?

Agriculture adapts to climate change. The way that the climate is changing shapes the way food is grown and water is filtered for human consumption. At the same time, the land’s surface interacts with the atmosphere. Due to this interaction, human modifications in land use, agricultural practices, urbanization, amongst other things, affect global, regional and local climates. 

Learn more about agriculture and climate change here.

Q. How does agriculture play a key role in the global carbon cycle?

Cropland soils have the potential to be either sinks or sources of greenhouse gases, notably carbon dioxide. Carbon is sequestered in soil by plants through photosynthesis and can be stored as soil organic carbon (SOC). Agricultural soils are among some of the planet’s largest reservoirs of carbon and hold a huge potential in the expansion of carbon sequestration, lessening carbon emissions into the atmosphere. 

Learn more about how agriculture plays a key role in the global carbon cycle here.

Q. How can the agriculture industry continue to do its part in reducing its carbon footprint?

Diversity across this region, both in terms of climate and in agricultural commodities produced, indicates that responses to climate change and variability will alter by location and commodity. Often these adaptation measures can simultaneously provide co-benefits towards multiple goals, such as soil health improvement, water quality protection, wildlife habitat management, or greenhouse gas mitigation.

Climate change adaptation can help to reduce the risks from climate variability and change, increase the resilience of systems to potential disruptions, and even alter systems to be better able to take advantage of future conditions.

Learn more about how the agriculture industry continues to do its part in reducing carbon footprint here.


Q. What is the agriculture industry doing to support farmers and climate-smart commodities?

USDA announced details of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities opportunity on February 7, 2022. Through this new program, USDA will finance partnerships to support the production and marketing of climate-smart commodities via a set of pilot projects lasting one to five years. Pilots will provide technical and financial assistance to producers who implement climate-smart practices on a voluntary basis on working lands; pilot innovative and cost-effective methods for quantification, monitoring, reporting and verification of greenhouse gas benefits; and market the resulting climate-smart commodities.

USDA will be inclusive of a wide cross-section of U.S. agriculture and forestry through this effort, including the meaningful inclusion of small and underserved producers and early adopters.

Learn more about what the agriculture industry is doing to support climate smart commodities here.

Along with government programs, individual operations are doing what they can to be eco-conscious with their commodities. With both private and federal programs working hard to help the climate-smart movement, it is hopeful that long-term effects will be seen from these efforts.  

If you have any more questions, a few resources to check out include USDA or National Young Farmers Coalition. To learn more about Agriculture and climate change, read Carbon Sequestration and Climate Control or Soil Health: How It Helps Combat Climate Change by Hungry for Truth.