New Agricultural Carbon Credit Bill is Sound Climate Policy | BCSE
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New Agricultural Carbon Credit Bill is Sound Climate Policy

The BCSE has invited the Corn Refiners Association to share its views on a recently introduced bi-partisan piece of climate legislation in the Senate.

On June 4, 2020, Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), introduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a critical new bill which seeks to establish a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) certification system to help farmers and forest landowners participate in carbon credit markets. The Corn Refiners Association (CRA) enthusiastically endorses the proposed Act under our Climate Change Policy Principles, which guide our industry’s advocacy to ensure a more sustainable future for corn refining, agriculture, and consumers.

As the national trade association representing the corn refining industry of the United States, CRA strives to advocate for sustainable policies that stand to benefit agriculture industry stakeholders across the corn value chain. Our organization understands the essential role that American agriculture has to play in the fight against the growing threat of climate change.

Great strides toward sustainability have already been made by our nation’s farmers, and more specifically, corn farmers. Since 1980, soil loss per bushel of corn has decreased by 51 percent, corn production has seen a 30 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions per bushel, and the energy used to produce a bushel of corn has decreased by 38 percent.

Despite the growing list of improvements in the sustainability arena by farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses, we recognize that there is still much work to be done. That’s why this year, CRA adopted a set of Climate Change Policy Principles to guide the industry’s advocacy for policies that are stringent but workable across a range of important environmental issues, including air quality, water quality, and pollution prevention.

Currently, serious technical and logistical entry barriers prevent American farmers from participating fully in carbon credit markets. Farmers often lack information about these complex markets, and they frequently face challenges finding technical assistance providers and agricultural carbon credit verifiers, whose expertise and guidance is essential for market participation.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act is forward-thinking, bipartisan legislation with seeks to solve these problems, and more specifically, aims to

  • Lower barriers to entry in carbon credit markets by reducing confusion and improving information for farmers looking to implement practices that capture carbon, reduce emissions, improve soil health, and make operations more sustainable.
  • Establish a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third Party Verifier Certification Program, under which the USDA will evaluate the credentials of these assistance providers and verifiers.
  • Give farmers access to a pool of trusted professional advisors who can ensure that carbon sequestration protocols are implemented in accordance with federal guidelines.
  • Enable USDA to help connect landowners to private sector actors who can assist the landowners in implementing the protocols and monetizing the climate value of their sustainable practices.
  • Allow third-party entities, certified under the program, to claim the status of a “USDA Certified” technical assistance provider or verifier.
  • Instruct USDA to produce a report to Congress to advise about the further development of this policy area including: barriers to market entry, challenges raised by farmers and forest landowners, market performance, and suggestions on where USDA can make a positive contribution to the further adoption of voluntary carbon sequestration practices in agriculture and forestry.

Importantly, this legislation is designed to serve the farmers who produce agricultural commodities like corn, representing an acknowledgement from leading policymakers that American agriculture is a crucial player in the fight against climate change.

CRA applauds the bipartisan group of lawmakers who have introduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act, and we look forward to working with these Senate leaders to advance policies that support American agriculture and protect our environment.

About the Author: Justin Maroccia is Manager, Sustainability for the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), the national trade association representing a full 100% the corn refining industry of the United States. CRA and its predecessors have served this important segment of American agribusiness since 1913. Corn refiners manufacture sweeteners, starch, advanced bioproducts, corn oil, and feed products from corn components such as starch, oil, protein, and fiber. CRA advocates for science-based public policy and economically-sound decisions at the state, federal, and global levels.