- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a report assessing the role of agriculture and forestry in U.S. carbon markets.
- The report is part of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) and aims to improve farmers’ and forest landowners’ access to carbon markets.
- Carbon markets offer farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners new income opportunities through carbon credit sales.
- The report identifies barriers hindering agricultural participation in carbon markets, such as high transaction costs.
- USDA is considering the establishment of the Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program to facilitate better technical assistance.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released a comprehensive report titled “A General Assessment of the Role of Agriculture and Forestry in the U.S. Carbon Markets.” The report is a key deliverable under the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA), signed into law on December 29, 2022, as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.
The Role of Carbon Markets in Agriculture and Forestry
Carbon markets are emerging as a promising tool in the fight against climate change. They offer farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners the opportunity to generate carbon credits by adopting practices that reduce emissions or sequester carbon on their lands. These credits can then be sold, providing a new income stream for these groups. Additionally, companies can purchase these credits to achieve their voluntary greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Barriers to Participation
Despite the potential benefits, the report identifies several barriers that have limited the participation of the agricultural sector in carbon markets. These include high transaction costs related to greenhouse gas quantification, verification, and reporting. The report aims to provide federal agencies, scientists, and farmers valuable insights into possible solutions to these barriers.
USDA’s Future Plans
The USDA is actively working to foster more confidence and participation in carbon markets. It also ensures that the climate benefits represented in these transactions are credible and supported by sound science. Earlier this year, the USDA announced a $300 million investment to improve the measurement, monitoring, reporting, and verification of greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration in climate-smart agriculture and forestry.
Following the release of this assessment, the USDA is considering whether to establish the Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program. This program would provide better technical assistance to producers interested in participating in carbon markets and establish a process to register market verifiers.