Bipartisan Legislation Would Promote Forest, Farm & Ranch Access to Carbon Credit Markets

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today announced her support for bipartisan legislation intended to increase voluntary participation by private forest owners and agriculture producers in conservation efforts by improving access to carbon credit markets.

Hyde-Smith is an original cosponsor of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (S.1251), introduced Tuesday and referred to the Senate Agriculture Committee.  The committee scheduled a business meeting to consider the measure on Thursday.

“Foresters, farmers, and ranchers are good stewards of our farm and timberlands, already possessing the skills and characteristics to help the environment on which their livelihoods depend.  This legislation represents a solid plan to give them access to carbon credit markets and benefit economically from their good work,” Hyde-Smith said.  “We have very strong voluntary participation in existing federal conservation programs in Mississippi.  Our strong agriculture sector and forests make improving access to the carbon credit markets a smart move.”

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would create a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certification program to help solve technical entry barriers that prevent farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets.  These obstacles, including access to reliable information about markets and access to qualified technical assistance providers and credit protocol verifiers, limit both landowner participation and the adoption of practices to help reduce the costs of developing carbon credits.

Through a new Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program, the USDA would certify assistance providers to help farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners implement protocols and monetize the climate value of their voluntary sustainable agriculture and forestry-related practices.

More than 60 leading agricultural and environmental organizations endorse the legislation, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF).

“AFBF welcomes the introduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act, which builds on the strong foundation of environmental stewardship in American agriculture by providing more clarity and guidance for farmers and ranchers as they explore or expand participation in carbon markets. This bill is evidence lawmakers can come together in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to environmental challenges while respecting the role of farmers and ranchers as they feed families around the globe,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall.

Senators Mike Braun (R-Ind.) introduced the legislation with Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).  In all, a bipartisan group of 37 Senators are original cosponsors of S.1251, among them Senators John Boozman (R-Ark.), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).

A review of the measure is available here.

Press Release

4/21/2021