House Ag Committee holds hearing on voluntary carbon markets
By Jennifer Whitlock
A recent US House Agriculture Committee hearing raised concerns from farmers and ranchers about emerging carbon markets and the role of the federal government in regulation.
During the “Voluntary carbon markets in agriculture and forestryIn a hearing last week, House Ag Committee chairman David Scott said voluntary carbon markets could help farmers, ranchers and foresters “capture a new source of income.”
However, he recognized that there is a lack of consistency and quality in current carbon markets, which can lead to unequal opportunities for smallholder farmers to participate.
“We have some serious issues that we need to deal with,” Scott said.
Farmers and ranchers have more questions than answers about participating in voluntary carbon markets, said David Milligan, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG).
Questions include determining how carbon is measured, how baselines are determined, data privacy issues, implementation costs and lost revenue calculations, ease of participation, contractual arrangements, etc.
He said farmers and ranchers are already practicing climate-smart agriculture, so any effort to streamline carbon markets should encourage these existing practices as well.
“Producers undertake conservation practices at their own expense, and while these practices have environmental benefits, they can also have financial costs and can impact yield or reduce the area in production, and therefore reduce income. from the farm, ”Milligan said. “The NAWG supports voluntary market-based programs and policies that provide economic opportunities for farmers and recognize the achievements of producers in protecting and restoring the environment by rewarding early adopters and adding new practices. “
Any federal oversight of carbon markets must take into account the diversity of farms and ranching across the country, he noted.
Regionally appropriate recommendations, technical assistance and offset levels will be needed for these voluntary carbon markets to succeed in agriculture, Milligan said. And these voluntary markets should be in addition to, not a substitute for, existing US Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation incentive programs.
Other farm organizations, including the Texas Farm Bureau (TFB), agree.
“We are not opposed to voluntary carbon markets, but we are concerned about any type of carbon tax or cap. We expect carbon credits to be fully investigated by USDA and other federal agencies to ensure that it is a scientifically sound and practical solution, ”said Jay Bragg, associate director of TFB for commodities and regulatory activities. “These programs should take into account the cost of production and all the other factors that farmers and ranchers need to consider during a growing season, because if it’s not really profitable, it’s actively hurting our businesses. members. We are therefore following these ideas closely and will advocate for more research and common sense application of these practices as these discussions progress. “
For more information on carbon markets and other resources on climate issues, visit TFB’s Climate Resources web page.