Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Vilsack pushes for farm and forest carbon credits, notes climate bill would raise cost of rural living

"Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack identified a major unresolved issue" with the bill to combat climate change Monday when he urged a Senate committee "to let farm and timber interests earn credits for capturing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, an idea some environmental groups oppose," Daniel Whitten of Bloomberg News reports. “It is difficult to see how greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere can be stabilized” without incentives for landowners, Vilsack said.

The secretary appeared to make the implicit argument that rural interests should get carbon credits partly because the climate bill would raise the cost of rural living. "Rural households are more likely than urban households to feel the pinch of increased gas prices" because they drive more, Vilsack said. "Fuel and fertilizer costs for farmers could increase too," reports Charles Abbott of Reuters. "Vilsack insists growers will wind up making money from climate regulations," reports Philip Brasher of The Des Moines Register. "Farm groups have expressed skepticism that a significant number of farmers or landowners will earn credits other than for planting trees."

Some environmental interests have questioned whether USDA, its Farm Service Agency and its Forest Service can be trusted to certify that farm and forest practices are capturing carbon, a duty they would get under the House-passed bill. Vilsack said in his prepared remarks, "It is important that agriculture and forestry offsets have high standards of environmental integrity. Quantification and reporting systems need to be rigorous, verifiable, and transparent – and review and auditing systems will need to be in place. Uncertainties must be accounted for and reduced. Greenhouse gas benefits accrued through carbon sequestration will need to be monitored over time to ensure that the benefits are maintained and that reversals are accounted for if they occur." Read other prepared remarks here.

1 comment:

janet gilles said...

Farmers could make all the difference. If just 2 percent of farms went organic, that would be equivalent to taking over a million cars off the road according to research done by Rodale Institute and Cornell.