Guest Opinion: Proposed legislation a positive step forward in addressing climate change in rural areas

Published 12:21 pm Wednesday, July 8, 2020

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By Kayla Bergman

A recently introduced piece of legislation into the U.S. Senate is a positive step forward in addressing climate change in rural areas.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, intended to establish a certification program for private parties who work with producers to receive payments for carbon sequestration, comes at a critical time for the agriculture industry and the environment.

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Introduced by Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I) in early June, the bill also further solidifies the important role agriculture plays in addressing climate change by providing a good path forward for carbon markets.

Producers who implement conservation practices on farms that sequester carbon, the most prevalent greenhouse gas, are starting to receive payments from various companies across the country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture certification program proposed as part of the legislation would bring legitimacy and transparency to agriculture carbon trading and standardize what has become a cumbersome enrollment process for some participants.

Under the current system, farmers wanting to participate often hire private parties to assist them in making sure the conservation practices they are adopting follow certain processes and protocols. If approved, the bill would get technical assistance to producers to help them receive payments for voluntary carbon sequestration on their farms.

The program has already generated excitement among farmers and companies. By providing a streamlined process, the Growing Solutions Act would raise the excitement even more, giving farmers the opportunity to earn more revenue while protecting the environment.

Kayla Bergman is a policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs.