By procuring novel foods like alternative proteins and low-emission meats, the Biden administration could unleash a wave of climate-friendly food innovation and production, leading to reduced agricultural emissions, while also scaling up new industries.
While the Biden administration has boldly called for making U.S. agriculture the first net zero emissions agricultural sector in the world, it has not taken full advantage of core government capabilities to mitigate emissions. Livestock production accounts for at least 42% of US agricultural emissions, with the majority of these gases released in the form of methane from cows. With federal procurement, there is significant untapped potential to increase demand for sustainable food production and shape consumption trends. The government spends a vast amount of money – about $2 billion dollars a year, on average – purchasing animal products for food assistance, school lunches, reservations, soup kitchens, food banks, and others, in addition to feeding the military.
Federal procurement of emerging food technologies like alternative proteins, specifically plant-based or cultivated meats, and low-carbon animal products will dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of the food that the government buys and scale up these climate-mitigating industries.