With the emphasis the Biden administration is placing on sustainability and the environment, it’s a guarantee that farmers will be affected over the next four years. In fact, farmers may be the key to making President Biden’s goals a reality. After all when it comes to carbon sequestration, herbaceous sequestration provides a number of advantages over woody sequestration.
But in order for agriculture to truly take part in reducing emissions and protecting the environment, financial assistance is needed. Instituting eco-friendly practices takes both time and money, two things many farmers have little of. Large corporations have often been incentivized to reduce emissions and establish native vegetation, forests, etc. It’s time that farmers are given the same opportunities.
According to a number of industry experts, the best way to do this may be to establish a regulated carbon market in the US.
How Does a Carbon Market Work?
Modern carbon markets can be traced back to the Kyoto Protocol established by the UN in 1997. Under this agreement, developed countries were given targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while developing countries were not. With this setup, developing countries could take emission reducing actions that would earn them “credit”. They could then sell credits to developed countries, who could then count it towards their reduction targets.
Though the market established by the Kyoto Protocol has largely lost support, similar carbon markets have continued to emerge in specific countries, as well as across select industries. Supporters of carbon markets believe they can effectively be used to incentivize environmentally–friendly actions while reducing emissions.
However, participating in current carbon markets can be difficult, especially for farmers. In some cases, farmers and landowners may be limited by their geographical location. Even if they have an established market in their area, it can be expensive to participate in it. Generally, they need to work through larger organizations which complicates matters and reduces overall effectiveness.
This is one of many reasons why support for a nationwide, market-based system for pricing carbon continues to grow. While existing laws could provide much of the framework, there are a few details that need to be decided. One of the main points up for debate is whether these prices are ultimately applied at a national or regional level.
If these could be settled, and an official US carbon market could be created, it would become a much more straightforward process for farmers to participate.
Farmers Have a Lot to Offer the Carbon Market
Agriculture has a lot of potential when it comes to reducing carbon levels and protecting our environment. In fact, many experts believe that farmland could be utilized to sequester carbon more effectively than forests. After all, reforestation efforts can take decades before they become effective. By comparison, herbaceous sequestration can be established on farmland in just 2–3 years.
Not only does sequestering carbon reduce emissions and combat our changing climate, but it also restores health to soil and neighboring crops. While many would argue this is incentive enough, a government-regulated carbon market could further reward farmers for eco-friendly efforts.
One bill currently proposed would create a USDA certification program that would allow private farmers to easily generate and sell carbon credits. Known as the Growing Climate Solutions Act, this bipartisan bill would greatly lower the bar of entry for farmers looking to engage in carbon markets.
Ultimately, many of the specifics are still up in the air when it comes to the carbon market, as well as the concept of a USDA-controlled carbon bank. Still, farmers do currently have opportunities to receive compensation for carbon sequestration and other environmentally friendly actions through the Conservation Reserve Program.
In exchange for taking marginal land out of active production and establishing native vegetation, farmers and landowners can receive market-based rental payments. A portion of the establishment cost is also covered. Currently, enrollment for continuous CRP is open across the US. Additionally, the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program is available in select states.
With the increased attention on green initiatives and the high likelihood that we’ll see a carbon-market and/or bank established under the current administration, CRP could become even more rewarding for contract holders in the near future. If you’re considering enrolling, now is the time to act.
Our parent company FDCE offers full-service CRP solutions, helping with the initial onboarding and handling the entire establishment process. This includes CRP seed purchasing, planting, herbicide application, and report submission for cost share reimbursement. Though CRP can be a very beneficial program, it can also be overwhelming to join. FDCE greatly simplifies the process, handling most of the work.
Alternatively, if you prefer to the handle the establishment process yourself, we can offer high-quality seed mixes to ensure your success. At All Native Seed, we specialize exclusively in CRP seed mixes. All of our seed has been reprocessed to enhance purity and provide the highest germination rates available.
Click here to purchase one of our proprietary seed mixes. If you’d like a quote for a seed mix developed by NRCS, click here.