Friday, December 10, 2010

Ag secretary outlines strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced steps that his department is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. Department of Agriculture will provide $15 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to promote carbon sequestration on private lands and test ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through large-scale demonstration projects. Vilsack's comments came at international climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, Amanda Peterka of Environment & Energy News reports. In a conference call with reporters Vilsack said he wanted to assure U.N. delegates that "we are taking steps to put our farmers and ranchers and forested-land owners in a better position" to reduce emissions.

The money provided by the USDA "will be administered through the department's Natural Resources Conservation Service and will also support farmers who carry out conservation measures associated with the projects," Peterka writes. "In another initiative to begin next year, USDA's Farm Service Agency will provide information to landowners on the carbon dioxide they save when they voluntarily plant trees through the farm bill's Conservation Reserve Program."

To launch the Carbon Net program, the USDA will draw from its electronic Hay Net service, which tracks farmers in need of hay and those with an excess. "The service will identify those in need of carbon credits and link them up with others who may be producing credits," Peterka writes. Vilsack explained "What we're doing here is not establishing credits. We're creating demonstration projects that will allow us to better measure and more accurately measure the benefits that are accrued by certain practices." (Read more)

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