BY BRAD HAIRE
Farm Press Editorial Staff
THE CARBON CREDIT MARKE T conversationhas been going on for decades. Farmers noware a bigger part of that discussion. The carbonmarket environment has been tough to navigate, but now farmers, including Southern farmers, might find a seat at the table worth having.
Jessica Kelton the Alabama CooperativeExtension Service regional agent based inHeadland, Ala., works on the ACES farm andagribusiness team and has been following witha Southern view recent development in thecarbon market for agriculture.
HOW TO STORE CARBON?
One carbon credit is a sequestration of theequivalent of one metric ton of carbon or carbon equivalent in the soil, she said.
“It’s not something that we understandcompletely, or how much you’re able to store inthe soil, but you are able to store some amount.For example, if you’re a peanut grower or a cotton grower, planting a cover crop, using sometype of conservation practice or reduce tillageare ways to help store that carbon in the soil,”she said.
How much carbon an acre can storedepends on soil types and region, she said,but an acre can store potentially between ahalf metric ton to 1.5 metric tons, or betweenhalf a carbon credit to potentially one and halfcredits per acre.
“(Carbon market) may be a way to capturesome revenue from implementing conservation practices that you plan on doing anyway,but maybe getting a payment for it, or for adding or increasing carbon-storing practices onthe farm,” she said.
WHAT’S A CARBON CREDIT WORTH?“Several companies out there acting as carboncredit clearinghouses, and what they’re willingto pay is kind of all over the board. I’ve hearddifferent prices and price ranges on these. $10to $20 an acre, maybe more, maybe less. And itreally depends on what company you’re working with,” she said.
WHAT DOES ADDITIONALITY MEAN?
Additionality comes up when talking about
purchasing carbon credits. Basically, a grower
may need to do more than current practices to
be eligible for carbon credit payment
“So, if you’ve been a no-till grower with
high-residue cover crops for years, you were
an early adopter, for some of these companies,
you may not qualify for carbon credit because
you’ve already increased your baseline carbon
storage capacity in the soil. To qualify for cred-
its with some of the companies they may ask
what you can do above and beyond that base-
line to store carbon,” she said.
According to the 2017 USDA Census ofAgriculture, the latest census data, 15% to30% of the total cropland in the Florida Panhandle, south Alabama and south Georgia isin reduced tillage, which leaves a minimum of30% of the soil surface covered by the previouscrop’s residue following spring planting. In thesame region, 10% to 30% of the total croplandreceives a cover crop. The next census will bereleased in 2022.
The Senate passed in June the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bipartisan bill that aims inpart to open the door for farmers who want toparticipate in carbon markets. It received support across the U.S. ag industry, including fromthe American Farm Bureau Federation. According to AFBF, the legislation:
■ Creates an online one-stop shop forfarmers, ranchers and foresters interested incarbon markets.
■ Establishes a USDA certification for private parties that farmers work with to generateand ultimately sell their carbon credits.
■ Commits to including farmers andother climate stakeholders on USDA’s Advisory Council.
The House is currently working on its version of Climate Solutions Act.
A Southern view of the carbon
credit market for farmers
How much carbon anacre can store dependson soil types andregion, but an acrecan store potentiallybetween a half metricton to 1.5 metrictons, or between halfa carbon credit topotentially one and halfcredits per acre.