The Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2021 is being described as an important first step for getting farmers more involved in viable carbon markets. It would create a certification program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help alleviate barriers of entry for producers. The legislation seeks to provide clarity on how a carbon market will function and make it easier for farmers and forest landowners to participate.
“It would establish a process for USDA to certify companies and individuals that have the expertise and are qualified to provide technical assistance to farmers that want to undertake these practices,” said Reece Langley, Vice President of Washington Operations for the National Cotton Council. “The bill will require USDA to establish an advisory committee to help advise the Secretary on how to move forward with these provisions.”
The advisory committee will be comprised of at least 51 percent of farmers and ranchers to provide important insight from the agricultural point of view. Some improvements have been made to the latest iteration of the legislation that had been introduced during the last Congressional session. The bill will not negatively impact any current farm bill or conservation programs. There are also strong confidentiality and conflict of interest provisions in the legislation. Many farmers and ranchers have expressed tremendous interest in viable carbon markets. However, a lack of understanding and limited access to qualified assistance have been discouraging hurdles for industry members.
“We really believe this legislation, once USDA fully implements it, is going to give our growers a lot of additional information about how to consider these carbon markets. What are the potential costs to the grower? What are the potential benefits? And any risk that they might have from participating,” Langley noted. “It really should create kind of a one-stop-shop at USDA to provide these educational and technical resources to farmers so they can make informed decisions about how to consider and participate in private carbon markets.”
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