The Growing Climate Solutions Act directs USDA to create a certification of third parties and an advisory council for voluntary climate markets.
Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau’s Congressional Relations Director, says the bill opens a path forward to allow farmers and ranchers to participate in carbon credit markets.
“This is a bill that’s supported by the American Farm Bureau and a host of other groups that is really the first bipartisan bill in the space of climate and agriculture,” said Walmsley. “It is an important bill in our view that will eventually provide information to farmers and ranchers who are interested in participating in these voluntary climate markets.”
One of these farmers is Brent Bible, of Stillwater Farms in Lafayette. He is a first-generation farmer and has been instrumental in the development of the bill. Last week, the Senate Ag Committee held a hearing on the bill and he testified.
“These pracrices and initiative will not reach a broader farming audience if we can’t figure out how to scale up the current rates of adoption and conservation practices,” said Bible. “That’s why I like the Growing Climate Solutions Act—it opens the door for farmer participation in a market-based system that rewards farmers for implementing conservation practices on their farms if they choose to do so.”
Walmsley added that the legislation builds on ag’s strong foundation of sustainable practices.
“In the last two generations roughly, we’ve increased our output by over 270 percent while our inputs have remained the same,” he said. “America’s farmers and ranchers are producing more with less. And so, finding recognition for that great stride that we’ve made as stewards is important, but also building a foundation going forward on what we can do even more in this space that consumers are demanding.”
As for Bible, he said more work needs to be done and encourages Congress to make this additional step.
“Because of these results we need congress to step in and provide policies that incentivize further adoptions,” he said. “We have great programs at USDA that provide cost-share for farmers to implement conservation practices, but government programs are not the only solution to our problem. We need real, market-based options that allow farmers to individually make a choice to participate and see the benefits to their economic bottom line.”