Carbon credit trade offers a conundrum for farmers

The Morning Show

VILLA GROVE, Ill. (WCIA) — Farmers are getting invitations from U.S. corporations to reduce their tillage and sell carbon credits, but many of them have a problem with that.

Companies that are heavy users of energy are offering to pay farmers a few dollars per acre to reduce their tillage so the company can claim carbon neutrality; an invitation considered by Villa Grove area farmer Adam Watson.

“If we lock ourselves in now, and we start going toward this carbon-neutral or selling carbon credits,” says Watson, “and in three years another company approaches us wanting to do it, did the past three years that we have done this carbon farming or selling the carbon does it not count towards anything?”

Ironically, farmers who have participated in the popular STAR program promoted by soil and water conservation groups may not be candidates to start carbon farming.

“No, that’s the part that leads a lot of question into this is what really is the end game with this? Are we trying to get and reward people for being good stewards of the land, and I say “we” meaning those that are paying for the carbon credits, or are they rewarding themselves by converting people into that system? And I almost feel that there’s enough companies that I have seen, if you have been no-tiling, strip-tilling, cover-cropping for years and years, you can’t even qualify for some of these and in order to qualify you’ve got to go out and mold-board plow yourself or chisel plow your acres that you’ve been able to build up to that style of a program and start over,” says Watson. “And that just seems backwards to me.”

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