H.R.2820 Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) is legislation that will help farmers, ranchers, and foresters navigate and access carbon markets, helping the environment and boosting farm income while providing the legal and regulatory framework for these markets.
Nearly 90% of farmers rely on second and third sources of income so that they can farm. We can do better by providing them with additional revenue streams. The GCSA will do this.
Carbon markets sell carbon credits to companies and individuals wanting to offset their carbon emissions. Using soil health and regenerative farming techniques, producers would be paid to increase soil carbon or the equivalent, such as decreasing methane by improving animal feed efficiency and manure management and reducing nitrous oxide by decreasing applications of synthetic fertilizers to the soil. Farmers and ranchers would also be paid for using techniques that protect our waterways from farm runoff that contains nitrogen, phosphorous, and even antibiotics.
Carbon sequestration in the soil “draws down” atmospheric carbon dioxide and restores and maintains topsoil by increasing soil organic matter. We’ve lost nearly 30% of the topsoil in the US; without topsoil, we can’t grow food.
The GCSA would incentivize and reward producers for improving soil health practices that make the soil more resilient to severe weather, including flooding and droughts, improve soil nutrition and, therefore, the nutrient value of food, and reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, saving producers money and protecting water quality and habitat.
Currently, carbon credit markets are a bit of the wild west, tricky for producers to navigate. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would support the USDA in developing a “one-stop shop” for carbon credits, providing legitimacy and transparency for carbon markets so farmers can trust the process. It might even increase the price farmers are paid for carbon.
The USDA would provide technical assistance and verification for producers, helping farmers, foresters and ranchers successfully utilize the carbon credit system if they choose to.
The USDA is a trusted voice, so it’s a common-sense strategy to involve the USDA. Producers need capital to transition to soil health practices, and carbon markets can provide those funds. Some markets even pay farmers to adopt these practices retroactively for 2 – 5 years.
The Farm Bureau strongly supports the GCSA.
“We appreciate lawmakers putting aside their differences to work on bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing farmers and ranchers,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “The Growing Climate Solutions Act acknowledges the potential of climate-smart farming while ensuring farmers would be respected as partners who can build on our strong foundation of environmental stewardship.”
The Growing Climate Solutions Act passed the senate with large bipartisan support on June 24, with 92 YEAs to 8 NAYs (4D, 1I, 3R) Encourage your House representative by phone, email, or social media to join the 92 Republicans and Democrats in the House, including 19 of the Conservative Climate Caucus members, and co-sponsor and vote for the GCSA. Find your representative and contact information here.