Conservation leader says carbon programs need to include early adopters, better pay

One of the early innovators in Wisconsin’s recently-expanded producer-led watershed protection grant program says farmers should not be left out of new carbon sequestration programs because they started doing the right things a decade ago.

Jeff Endres is a dairy farmer and the chairman of Yahara Pride Farms, a farmer-led watershed protection group focused on keeping nutrients out of the Yahara River, which feeds the lakes surrounding Madison, Wisconsin.  Endres tells Brownfield many farmers have implemented cover crops, no-till, and other practices but so far, won’t benefit from the proposed carbon programs. “That’s something they’ve got to take a real serious look at because if you’re going to create something here, and leave the leaders of these practices that actually make the difference out of the program, that would be a shame. I think my personal view would be you treat everybody the same and you pay it straight across the board.”

Endres says a company approached him a few years ago about joining their carbon program, but he turned them down for offering less than ten dollars an acre. “We’re looking at numbers that are, you know, three or four times that on a per-acre basis so if that’s what we truly want to do is sequester carbon and put it back in the soil and want farmers to do that and make a change, I think you’ve got to understand what the costs are going to be.”

Brownfield interviewed Endres during the Yahara Pride Farms Conference in DeForest, Wisconsin Thursday.

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