Pennsylvania program: Want free money? Sell carbon credits

SALEM, Ohio — It’ll be one of the easiest ways you’ll ever make money off your farmland.

That’s what’s being said about carbon credit trading, and farmers in eight Pennsylvania counties have the chance to be among the first in the Keystone State to get involved and profit from doing, well, nothing.

Pilot

Gary Swan, Pennsylvania Farm Bureau’s director of governmental affairs and communications, said the carbon credit trading program is already getting a good response based on the nearly 100 farmers who have turned out for informational meetings this month.

“Carbon credit trading is relatively new and complex topic, and we felt it best to not try to deal with the whole state in the first weeks and months of the program,” Swan said of putting the pilot program on track.

Sessions have already been held in Armstrong, Beaver and Berks counties, and five more sessions are set throughout the remaining counties selected to participate: Centre, Chester, Columbia, Franklin and Lycoming.

Those counties were selected based on geography, to allow farmers from different areas of the state to get in early, and also based on the extent and diversity of agriculture in the counties, Swan said. Enrolling no-till and grassed pastureland will be emphasized in those counties early on.

The program will expand later this year and will eventually be open to all counties in the commonwealth.

“There’s no doubt that some farmers have already decided this has a place on their farm,” Swan said. “We anticipate them registering when we open the first week of March.”

Organization

The Farm Bureau has partnered with the Global Emissions Exchange to trade and sell the credits. The Farm Bureau is a ‘middle man’ that, for a fee, will facilitate sign-ups and contracting, Swan said.

The trading system allows farmers who reduce carbon dioxide emissions by minimally disturbing the soil to sell the value of the carbon retained in the ground for a premium on the Exchange.

According to the Farm Bureau, keeping carbon in the soil is highly attractive to industries such as utility companies and manufacturers, known for carbon emissions. Many of those companies voluntarily buy carbon credits from farmers to offset their emissions and negative environmental impact in preparation for a time when carbon offsets will become mandatory.

Revenues

“We see [carbon credit trading] as a way of introducing to agriculture a new concept for the long-term future. Revenue is not going to be all that great for all farms, but there’s no up-front investment on the part of the farmer except agreeing to certain practices,” Swan said.

In an example provided by the Farm Bureau and Exchange, a farmer with 100 acres of no-till crops and 100 acres of permanent grasslands selling a carbon contract at $3.50 per metric ton stands to make just over $400 profit per year by signing a contract. Contracts last three years.

The program is open to all landowners in Pennsylvania, but Farm Bureau members get the additional benefit of lower trading fees.

Swan also noted the current market price, which fluctuates daily like any commodity market, is just over $2 per metric ton.

“For a lot of larger farms, this is a no-brainer for them,” Swan said.

“A farmer doesn’t have to do anything or invest anything except his time and a three-year contract.”

About the Author

Former staff reporter Andrea Zippay wrote for Farm and Dairy from 2001 to 2009. More Stories by Andrea Zippay

8 Comments

  1. what a joke.there is no global warming.it is just away to give us more taxes.

  2. OH farmer says:

    “In an example provided by the Farm Bureau and Exchange, a farmer with 100 acres of no-till crops and 100 acres of permanent grasslands selling a carbon contract at $3.50 per metric ton stands to make just over $400 profit per year by signing a contract. Contracts last three years.”

    Am I not understanding something? A farmer will make $400 per year on 200 acres and that is big news? Is that right?? Is there something I’m missing?

  3. Gerry Less says:

    Anyone that gets into bed with the goverment, President Obama, Al Gore, and all the other “tree huggers” on something as moronic as carbon credits will not make any money, but instead will pay a tremedous price in the loss of freedom to do what you want to do with your own land when you start taking money from those bureaucratic FOOLS and they start dictating to you how you must farm!

  4. OH Farmer — It’s not that it’s “big news” to make $400 on the property, but isn’t that $400 you didn’t have before, and for doing nothing?

  5. The Goat Whisperer says:

    Andrea:

    This is ridiculous. And from an argibusiness journal.

    CO2 as the a climate change agent is junk science at best. http://www.junkscience.com
    At worst, government expanding leaps and bounds beyond it’s Constitutional authority.

    Try applying some critical thinking and giving the 5W’s of journalism a try?

    Who are the snake oil salesmen behind Global Emission Exchange (GEX)?

    What gives GEX or Pensylvania any “RIGHTS” to arrange the exhange anybody’s CO2? Kindly demand Mr. Gary Swan cite which US Constitution articles are giving him this authority.

    How can anybody sign a three year contract for something illegal?

  6. The Goat Whisperer says:

    Posted By Marc Morano – 5:05 PM ET – Marc_Morano@EPW.Senate.Gov

    Scientist Tells Congress: Earth in ‘CO2 Famine’

    Washington, DC — Award-winning Princeton University Physicist Dr. Will Happer declared man-made global warming fears “mistaken” and noted that the Earth was currently in a “CO2 famine now.” Happer, who has published over 200 peer-reviewed scientific papers, made his remarks during today’s Environment and Public Works Full Committee Hearing entitled “Update on the Latest Global Warming Science.”

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=af8f5b20-802a-23ad-49fb-8a2d53f00437

  7. The Goat Whisperer says:

    More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made Global Warming Claims

    Scientists Continue to Debunk “Consensus” in 2008

    Over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore. The over 650 dissenting scientists are more than 12 times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media-hyped IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=2674e64f-802a-23ad-490b-bd9faf4dcdb7

  8. Tree Hugger says:

    As a member of a Woodland Assc. with a combined membership of well over 5,000 acres, a large landowner myself and suffering in this economic climate, my ears are perked to your article. But, understanding supply and demand, I will be waiting for a better deal. I also have instructed our other members to do the same. To throw poor farmers a few hundred and turn around to save tens of thousands in carbon offsets, lock them into a contract and make them feel ‘lucky’ is BS and we woodland owners are now aware of these practices from big corps. This is not the world we asked for but this is where we are.

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