Legislation that would help increase farmer participation in carbon markets and create the framework for carbon program certification has passed the U.S. Senate.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act passed with a 92-8 vote on June 24. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., on April 22 and gained bipartisan support from 54 cosponsors, including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va.
The bill now has moved to the House of Representative, where it will go through committee consideration, debate and a vote.
Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture would establish a certification program that would solve technical barriers that previously have prevented agricultural producers’ involvement in developing carbon credits.
The USDA-commissioned Greenhouse Gas Technical Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program would address those limiting factors, which include a lack of credible market information and access to qualified credit verifiers and technical service providers.
The program would provide additional information on third-party technical assistance providers and credit verifiers, as well as informal endorsements of reputable providers who help landowners generate carbon credits. USDA also would create a website to provide information and resources for producers interested in participating in carbon markets.
An advisory committee also would be established for the certification program to ensure it retains its credibility and remains receptive to the demands of farmers and other carbon market participants. This council would be comprised of experts, producers and scientists.
Ultimately, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would help connect farmers with third-party entities who can assist landowners in monetizing their sustainable land management practices.
“Carbon markets present valuable opportunities for farmers but can be confusing or difficult to navigate,” said Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator for Virginia Farm Bureau Federation.
“All industries, including agriculture, are seeing growing pressure to become more efficient and reduce carbon emissions,” he added. “This bill puts farmers in a position to help direct that conversation and capture the progress the industry has made in not only reducing emissions, but also sequestering carbon from all sectors.”
Rowe noted the legislation sets the stage for more farmers to be compensated for conservation practices they’re already employing, such as no-till farming, precision agriculture and reforestation.
With the additional compensation earned through carbon credits, he said, farmers could expand their investments in climate-smart practices and earn further recognition as environmental stewards.
“We commend the Senate on their passage of the bill and encourage the House to move swiftly as the legislation moves to their chamber,” Rowe said.
- Submitted by Ben Rowe