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Voluntary Carbon Markets Hold Promise for Farmers and Ranchers

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photo credit: AFBF Photo, Morgan Walker

By Gary Joiner @TXGaryJoiner

A lot of work remains on the establishment of private voluntary carbon markets for farmers and ranchers.

The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture recently hosted a hearing on the topic. Committee chairman David Scott said voluntary carbon markets could help farmers, ranchers and foresters capture a new income stream.

There is much that farmers and ranchers would like to learn about this opportunity.

Questions include determining how carbon is measured, how baselines are determined and data privacy issues. There are also concerns about costs of implementation and foregone income calculations, ease of participation and contract provisions. And the list of questions goes on.

Many farmers and ranchers already use climate-smart practices. Any efforts to streamline carbon markets should incentivize those existing practices.

Many farmers and ranchers already use climate-smart practices.

It’s important that any kind of mandatory effort, like a carbon tax or cap, is avoided. Carbon credits should be fully researched by USDA and other federal agencies to help standardize the credit market accounting and to ensure it’s a scientifically sound and practical solution. And it must be economically viable for the farmer and rancher to participate. Otherwise, the voluntary markets will struggle.

A Market Intel series published by the American Farm Bureau highlights the opportunities, challenges, policy levers and overall operation of agriculture ecosystem credit markets. Read on to learn more.

Agricultural Ecosystem Credit Markets – The Primer provides a primer on agriculture ecosystem credit markets. With so many emerging ideas and platforms, it’s important to explore how these markets are developing and operating, as well as who is behind them and why.

Common Land-Use Practices Under Consideration for Conservation Adoption discusses USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation practices commonly used in agricultural ecosystem credit market contracts and current adoption rates.

Barriers to Participation in Ag Ecosystem Credit Markets considers some of the barriers to participation in agriculture ecosystem credit markets that farmers and ranchers may face.

Is Carbon a Commodity? discusses how agricultural ecosystem credits could be priced and purchased, particularly if they were priced as a commodity.

Good Business Practices for Farmers Participating in Agriculture Ecosystem Credit Markets looks at the development of good business practices for agriculture ecosystem credit markets and assesses the markets’ long-term impacts.

Gary Joiner is director of communications at Texas Farm Bureau.