Carbon market bill moves through Congress

July 13, 2021
Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative, provides an update on the Growing Climate Solutions Act and what it could mean for agriculture.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act has passed the Senate and is moving to the House of Representatives. If passed, it would instruct the USDA to set up a greenhouse gas technical assistance provider and a third-party verifier certification program to help farmers and ranchers participate in carbon credit trading markets.

“These programs would provide a USDA stamp of approval for qualified providers of technical assistance and verifiers that help landowners adopt voluntary carbon sequestration practices,” says Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative. “In turn, the practices would allow them to earn carbon credits, which could then be sold into carbon markets.”

Growing support for the bill

The Growing Climate Solutions Act recently passed in the Senate by a vote of 92 to 8, says Stafford, adding that it received bipartisan support – “at a level we don’t often see for standalone legislation these days.”

At its passage, the Growing Climate Solutions Act had almost half the Senate signing on as cosponsors, Stafford notes, including Sen. John Boozman, the ranking Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

“In the House, there’s been companion legislation introduced by Rep. Abigail Spanberger from Virginia and Rep. Don Bacon from Nebraska,” says Stafford. “The bill has support from many advocacy groups, including the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, which includes CHS as a member. CHS supports the bill as well.”

Regarding how the bill may fare in the House, Rep. David Scott of Georgia, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is “keeping his cards close to his vest,” says Stafford.

Stafford says the legislation introduced in the House mirrors the Senate bill, but changes could be made as the Growing Climate Solutions Act goes through the House. “Right now, the biggest potential obstacles may come from the more progressive wing of the Democratic party possibly wanting to see more progressive climate priorities included in the bill,” says Stafford, adding that pressure could have an adverse effect on the Republican support the legislation currently has.