How farmers and lawmakers are looking to create a carbon market

Farmers and lawmakers are always looking for a more sustainable future and one idea is creating a carbon market, which is a complicated process.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Farm and Forest Carbon Solutions Initiative is looking for ways to help farmers reduce emissions while maintaining productivity.

According to the director of the initiative Robert Bonnie, agriculture contributes about 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., but there is an enormous opportunity to reduce those emissions even while we improve productivity of agriculture, and, importantly, we can sequester carbon through improved soil management, grassland conservation, a variety of practices.

This group says that changing production methods can yield long-term benefits for the soil.

Wayne Honeycutt, the president and CEO of the Soil Health Institute, notes you when you increase carbon you are essentially “fluffing up” the soil to make it less dense and that allows its roots to penetrate the soil better.

One Ohio farmers sees conservation as a crop input.

“I did it for economic reasons. I was thinking if there’s not much money in farming, then it’s just as important to take a dollar off of input costs as it is for putting a dollar on,” Fred Yoder said.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission recommends setting a carbon price. Yoder agrees.

“We would have carbon sequestered like you’ve never seen before, especially if you decouple it from the price of the commodity,” he said. “In other worlds, make carbon another commodity, I think you will see a lot of farmers switch instead of the tillage system they are on now.”

The bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act would establish the framework for a new carbon market.

Indigo Agriculture’s Laura Wood Peterson says the bill establishes a third part certifier program, in addition to other things, that might feel like small steps.

“But they are clearly very big steps because of the bipartisan nature of the work these senators are leading,” she said.

She also notes that a federal tax credit already exists for carbon sequestration, but it is limited to manufacturing and energy producers.

“We think one idea is to advance a nature based climate solution through a transferable federal tax incentive modeled on Section 45Q of the tax code,” she said. “This is a policy tool, we think, whose time has come because of the technological advances we’ve talked about today, made actionable by the Growing Climate Solutions Act.”

Indigo Agriculture already has 7 million acres of farmland enrolled in its carbon program, but is hoping to see more farmers get involved in the carbon conversation.

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