WASHINGTON — The Growing Climate Solutions Act received overwhelming approval with a 92-8 vote on June 24 on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Also known as Senate Bill 1251 and sponsored by Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the proposal creates a certification program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help eliminate entry barriers to farmer and landowner participation in carbon credit markets.
Braun recently spoke with Indiana Soybean Alliance and Indiana Corn Growers Association members about the benefits of his proposal.
“Market demand for carbon credits represents a significant opportunity for Indiana farmers to improve their annual income,” said Mike Beard, a Frankfort farmer and ICGA president, who attended that meeting with Braun. “We are very happy with the Senate’s support of this bill, and we encourage the U.S. House of Representatives to take up the issue quickly and help farmers across the country.”
House Ag Committee members Reps. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., and Don Bacon, R-Neb., have introduced a companion bill that eventually will be combined with the Growing Climate Solutions Act.
According to Braun’s bill, the new USDA program would offer reliable information about carbon markets and access to qualified technical assistance providers for farmers and landowners.
This bill establishes a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program in the USDA to provide transparency, legitimacy and informal endorsement of third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help farmers and private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry-related practices.
The USDA certification program will ensure these assistance providers have agriculture and forestry expertise.
Stabenow, who is the chair of the Senate Ag Committee, said passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act will improve the environment by encouraging more farmers and landowners to enter the carbon credit markets.
USDA will administer a new website, which will serve as a “one-stop shop” of information and resources for producers and foresters who are interested in participating in carbon markets.
Through the program, USDA will help connect landowners to private-sector resources that can assist the landowners in implementing the protocols and monetizing the climate value of their sustainable practices.
“Gaining access to carbon markets is often confusing and difficult,” said Mike Koehne, a Greensburg farmer and chair of the ISA’s Membership and Policy Committee. “This legislation should make it easier for farmers and landowners to participate and benefit from meeting market-based demands for carbon credits.”
Braun first proposed the Growing Climate Solutions Act more than a year ago. In a series of meetings with Hoosier farmers and agricultural leaders, the proposal has been modified to its present form.
“Senator Braun has worked with the Indiana Soybean Alliance and Hoosier farmers to make sure that the Growing Climate Solutions Act is agriculture friendly,” said Phil Ramsey, a Shelbyville farmer and American Soybean Association member. “This proposed law will help farmers as they start to engage carbon markets and implement more environmentally friendly practices.”