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Sustainable farming practices have become a commodity known as carbon credits PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 December 2010 10:03

Farmers opt into selling green credits for practical and profitable reasons

The ability to capture carbon has created a new carbon-credit market. In farming terms, this means encouraging and funding no-till farming methods, changes in manure storage, and changes in feed programs.

Alistair Handley, vice president of Carbon Credit Solutions Inc., spoke about the role of his company as the middle person connecting farmers who capture carbon with industrial companies who purchase carbon credits.

“We enter into contracts with people who are able to supply us with data or evidence of activities that can result in a marketable commodity.”

Handley said the provincial government announced recently that it will restrict farmers from being able to “claim credits on historical years.” They are currently allowed to go back to 2002 in order to be able to earn income on the years that they have been using no-till methods.

In terms of any ethical or conflicting views, Handley mentions that it is the farmers’ decision to “commodify” their no-till methods.

Handley continued that large final emitters in Alberta who have bought carbon credits must reduce the amount of carbon they emit or they face a $15 million penalty. This money, which is given to the government, is then put into a fund used to contribute to research and development projects, a carbon storage project or the funding of other green, energy projects.

Ivan Ortlieb formerly worked in the carbon credit industry. He spoke to farmers in regards to the process of receiving carbon credits.

Ortlieb said that farmers would be skeptical of the carbon capture industry because of previous programs from the government where the farmers had to account for their yields. This program resulted in confusion regarding finances.

The farmers were also wondering whether the credit values would “double.” Another doubt of the farmers was whether the carbon capture market would even exist in a few years.

Mark Poffenroth, a farmer who has a grain farm east of Calgary, said, “It was really easy to move into the carbon capture program because my eligibility was already present before the program even started.”

Poffenroth talked about the success of others who have dealt with the industry and its growing popularity.

He said that over the past 10 years, the number of farmers engaged in no-till farming practices has increasingly grown.

The reason for the growth in no-till farming as well as other credit-creating practices, include the revenue generated from carbon credits, he says, adding that practical issues such as increased fuel costs, operating costs and labour have also contributed to the trend.