Paying Farmers to Grow Carbon-Capturing Crops

by Jan Frazier

Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine) –   It will be not only a complicated but also an expensive project for President Joe Biden to pay the farming community as well as the ranchers to help in the fight to change the climate.

The Biden administration has been working on this plan for six months, and they are yet to unveil a real plan. Getting the economics to work is logistically complex as well as difficult. 

Corporations are willing and eager to “buy credits that pay farmers to pull carbon dioxide out of the air and into their soil.” However, these credits will not pay the farmers and ranchers enough money to “entice enough farmers to rethink how they grow crops to maximize capturing carbon.”

Mitchell Hora, an Iowa farmer and founder of Continuum Ag, which is a soil health consulting company, said, “There’s a ton of hype and farmers are very interested in this, but if this gets screwed up, it’s going to be a bad deal.” Hora, himself, is not yet jumping into the carbon markets.

Farmers and ranchers are indeed a prime piece of President Biden’s overall thinking process to decrease greenhouse gases across the American economy. The agriculture process in the U.S. “contributes about 9 percent of U.S. emissions, but in theory, has the potential to more than offset its own footprint.”

President Biden has a rare opportunity to enroll the agriculture industry into his climate agenda because of current interest among the farmers as well as buy-in from large food and agricultural industries. 

However, this window for litigation “may be limited as the new president’s political capital wanes and midterm elections draw closer.”

According to one of Politico’s testing of existing markets, they say that there has been a great deal of discussion about positioning agricultural establishments to save the planet; however, the number of acres that can be incorporated into these carbon programs is very small. Plus, there are many technical challenges to get to a point “where such efforts could meaningfully cut greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.”

Involving farmers in these voluntary programs is still at the top of the list for lawmakers. Last week, the Senate “overwhelmingly approved a bill to support these new voluntary markets – a rare bipartisan move on climate legislation.”


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