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House Ag Committee hears needs for voluntary carbon market expansion

The Chair of the U.S. House Ag Committee says there is no entity on earth is more dependent on the climate than agriculture which is why policymakers need to consider if more should be done to support carbon markets and their effort to mitigate it.

“It is most important that agriculture, our industry, be at the point of the spear in dealing with climate change.”

Congressman David Scott of Georgia pressed committee members during Thursday’s hearing on voluntary carbon markets in agriculture and forestry to support transparent and reliable carbon markets to benefit the environment and producers.

Ranking member Glenn “GT” Thompson says he supports the private carbon marketplace and feels forced by the Senate’s Growing Climate Solutions Act to evaluate markets.

“Why is there so much focus on carbon sequestration and not on other environmental service markets?” he asks.  “Why should USDA resources be diverted from proven conservation programs to stand up carbon markets, as proposed in related legislation?”

Many witnesses testified in support of voluntary markets but said they need more uniformity and guidance which the USDA could provide including Callie Eideberg with the Environmental Defense Fund.

“There is no referee on the playing field to ensure consistency in the measurement, the reporting, or the verification of those emissions reductions, so without better standards or any type of standardization, we may very well see these markets fail,” she says.

Leo Bastos, senior vice president, head of global commercial ecosystems, with Bayer Crop Science echoed the need for USDA support in setting guidelines.

“Providing needed technical assistance for farmers to be successful in a transition to sustainable practices,” he says.  “These practices need to work on field conditions and specific fields and farms.  Therefore it’s needed some skillsets, at the intersection of those agronomic practices and carbon markets.”

Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director for the California Climate and Agriculture Network, shared 20 years of history in attempts to create carbon markets, their failures, called for importance to be placed on proven conservation work in the farm bill.

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