The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held a hearing to review the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 (S. 3894). The bipartisan legislation addresses the potential for agriculture to serve as a critical climate solution by making it easier for producers to participate in climate-smart practices, navigate carbon markets, and earn extra income through carbon sequestration. Multiple farm groups, including National Corn Growers Association and National Pork Producers Council, have endorsed the bill.
“Agriculture has a tremendous opportunity to lead by example with impactful, common-sense climate solutions. Farmers are vital partners in stabilizing the climate and increasing resilience to climate impacts we can’t avoid,” Bible told the Committee.
The Growing Climate Solutions Act will:
- Create an Online “One Stop Shop” for Producers and Foresters interested in carbon markets to help them get their foot in the door. A new USDA website will serve as a comprehensive resource with information for farmers and foresters interested in generating carbon credits. It will explain how they can get started and connect them with USDA-certified entities to set up their carbon credit operation and provide more details on the private-sector marketplace.
- Establish a USDA Certification for the private parties that farmers work with in order to generate and ultimately sell their carbon credits. Modeled off of the National Organic Program, the certification provides transparency and legitimacy to technical assistance providers, who advise producers on conservation practices to use in order to generate carbon credits, and third party verifiers, who verify that the appropriate protocols were followed to ensure the integrity of the credits so they can be sold. The USDA will ensure that these private third parties have agriculture and/or forestry experience, which is lacking in the current marketplace.
- Organize an Advisory Council to keep the Secretary and USDA updated on new developments in the rapidly-expanding landscape of carbon markets. The council of agriculture experts, scientists, conservationists, and producers will ensure that the certification program remains relevant, credible, and responsive to the needs of farmers, forest landowners, and carbon market participants alike.
- Assess Progress in Carbon Markets through a regular report to keep lawmakers up to speed on barriers to market entry, producer challenges, market performance, and opportunities for USDA to contribute to the further adoption of voluntary carbon sequestration.
“U.S. pork producers, who have been at the forefront of environmental sustainability, are committed to the long-term protection of our country’s natural resources,” said NPPC President Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “Thanks to continuous on-farm improvements in nutrition, genetics, and overall pig care, U.S. pork producers are doing more with less. This bipartisan effort will help give the private sector the standards and certifications needed to recognize and reward the important work being done by U.S. hog farmers to reduce our carbon footprint.”