Understanding how to participate in carbon markets

January 10, 2023
Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative, discusses how the newly passed omnibus bill supports farmers participating in carbon markets.

Voluntary carbon markets continue to gain popularity as more companies set aggressive sustainability initiatives. For farmers, higher demand for carbon credits means more potential buyers and higher earning potential. But, for many producers, technical barriers and the risk of adopting new production practices limit carbon market participation. That could change, due to end-of-year legislation signed into law by President Biden.

The newly passed omnibus law includes the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which aims to provide more support and clarity for farmers participating in private carbon market programs. Will Stafford, CHS Washington representative, says the law may help remove adoption barriers for farmers interested in generating an additional revenue stream from carbon sequestration.

What is the Growing Climate Solutions Act?

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, included in the recent omnibus bill passed by Congress, was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in April 2021.

“The new law aims to break down technical barriers to enable broader farmer participation in private carbon markets, so we’ve been very supportive of this legislation at CHS. It adds more certainty and transparency to carbon markets, which currently lack standardization,” says Stafford.

Specifically, the Climate Solutions Act establishes a certified carbon market provider program so farmers can vet third-party service providers that measure and verify greenhouse gas reductions. This update will help farmers gain access the technical assistance they need to succeed in a carbon market, says Stafford. The bill also aims to protect farmers’ rights by ensuring they receive fair revenue distribution from carbon credit sales.

“One piece of the bill that we are very excited about is establishment of a USDA advisory panel that will be grower-focused. We hope the USDA will include cooperative voices on the advisory council to help inform some of the new rules for carbon markets,” explains Stafford.

The omnibus bill was signed into law in late December, and Stafford expects new rules to roll out over the next 12 months.