WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Joe Biden yesterday signed into law U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation to break down barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets and embracing climate-smart practices.
Limited access to reliable information about markets, qualified technical assistance providers, and credit protocol verifiers has restricted both landowner participation in carbon markets and the adoption of practices that help reduce the costs of developing carbon credits.
Spanberger’s bipartisan and bicameral Growing Climate Solutions Act would create a registration program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for those involved in carbon credit markets. By providing greater transparency and USDA oversight of these markets, this law will help reduce technical entry barriers that prevent farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets. Through the program, USDA would 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. Spanberger first introduced the bipartisan bill in June 2020.
“For far too long, Washington has ignored the voices of farmers and producers when it comes to addressing the climate crisis. By bringing their perspectives to the table and cutting burdensome red tape, this bipartisan legislation takes a major step towards making carbon credits more accessible for American agriculture,” said Spanberger. “I’ve been proud to see our legislation garner support from across the political spectrum — and I’ve been even prouder to see a wide coalition of farm groups, environmental organizations, and Fortune 500 companies find common ground on the major climate challenges we face. Our bill breaks down longstanding barriers and helps farmers, ranchers, and foresters embrace smart practices that are good for the land and good for their bottom lines — and I want to thank Senator Braun, Senator Stabenow, and Senator Bacon for their strong partnership on this legislation.”
The Growing Climate Solutions Act is supported by a wide range of farm, environment, and industry organizations in Virginia and across the country — including the Virginia Farm Bureau Federation, the Virginia Agribusiness Council, and more. Click here for a list of the Growing Climate Solutions Act’s supporters.
“Virginia Farm Bureau commends Congresswoman Spanberger and her colleagues on inclusion of the Growing Climate Solutions Act as part of the 2023 omnibus spending package,” said Wayne F. Pryor, President, Virginia Farm Bureau. “Farmers and forest-landowners manage the overwhelming majority of open space in this country and play a crucial role in adopting practices that naturally sequester carbon. The Growing Climate Solutions Act will help farmers work with USDA on climate-smart practices for voluntary, market-driven programs, and help solve technical entry barriers to farmer and forest-landowner participation in voluntary carbon credit markets.”
“The Virginia Agribusiness Council is pleased to see the inclusion of the Growing Climate Solutions Act in the omnibus spending package, and is thankful for the work of Congresswoman Spanberger and her colleagues in Congress to secure its passage,” said Cliff Williamson, Executive Director, Virginia Agribusiness Council. “This new law will help farm and forest landowners, who steward land and natural resources across the Commonwealth and the nation, by working with USDA to certify practices and create innovative, market-based programs to sequester carbon in a voluntary manner.”
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
“AFBF commends lawmakers for including several important pieces of legislation in the 2023 omnibus bill to support the role farmers and ranchers play in sustainability and recognize the hardships caused by natural disasters,” said Zippy Duvall, President, American Farm Bureau Federation. “The revised version of the Growing Climate Solutions Act will help farmers work with USDA on climate-smart practices for voluntary, market-driven programs. Farm Bureau stands ready to continue working with both parties on the many other critical issues facing farm and ranch families.”
“The U.S. Chamber of Commerce commends Congress for passing the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act as an important part of today’s omnibus bill. Through its innovative framework that rewards farmers and other land managers for taking voluntary actions to reduce emissions, this legislation would facilitate a new, cost-effective option for addressing climate change,” said Chuck Chaitovitz, Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Sustainability, U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “Many of our members are depending on the establishment of such voluntary offset markets to meet their ambitious climate commitments. Thanks to Sen. Braun, Rep. Spanberger, and the Senate and House Agriculture Committees for their leadership. Promoting responsible resource management through financial incentives for voluntary conservation and sustainable land-use practices is a win-win policy that will benefit American agriculture, their supply chain, the broader business community, and the environment.”
“I applaud the passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act as part of the omnibus appropriations bill that Congress approved this week. I would especially like to recognize the leadership of Representative Abigail Spanberger in introducing the bill in the House and ensuring its inclusion in the omnibus,” said Chuck Conner, President and CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. “GCSA is a critical step to breaking down barriers and providing certainty to farmer co-op members and other producers who want to participate in carbon markets. If farmers are to be part of solving climate challenges, they need to rely on proven science, accurate data, and standardization to help us get there, and GCSA is an important step in that direction.”
“The inclusion of the Growing Climate Solutions Act in the omnibus is a tremendous bipartisan victory that will help combat climate change while rewarding farmers for their climate-smart practices,” said Jennifer Tyler, Senior Director of Government Affairs, Citizens’ Climate Lobby. “We commend Congresswoman Spanberger for her leadership and commitment to working across the aisle to advance bipartisan climate solutions.”
“Farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners are critical to helping combat climate change, but they need a straightforward way to tap revenue streams for implementing climate-friendly practices,” said Nikki Rovner, Associate State Director, The Nature Conservatory. “The Growing Climate Solutions Act will help ensure producers interested in participating in voluntary markets have access to reliable, science-based resources critical for their success. We are grateful to Congresswoman Spanberger and all the supporters of this bill for working across the aisle to champion natural climate solutions. This is a big win for agriculture, conservation, and the climate.”
“U.S. pork farmers are committed to protecting the country’s natural resources and have been at the forefront of environmental sustainability through continuous on-farm improvements in nutrition, genetics, and overall pig care,” said Terry Wolters, President, National Pork Producers Council & Owner, Stoney Creek Farms. “We applaud Congress’s bipartisan effort to pass this important legislation that recognizes and rewards the pork industry’s ongoing work to reduce the carbon footprint on America’s hog farms.”
“We are happy to see the Growing Climate Solutions Act get some air in the omnibus,” said Daryl Cates, President, American Soybean Association & Illinois soybean farmer. “The premise of Growing Climate Solutions is farmers can voluntarily adopt practices—like cover crops or no till—that pull carbon from the atmosphere and store, or ‘sequester,’ it in the soil. This, in turn, helps supply chain partners, private companies, and even governments shrink their carbon footprints. We appreciate Congress supporting USDA with authority to help interested farmers engage with private markets designed to reduce the rate of climate change caused by high carbon emissions.”
“Recognizing the critical role that stewards of the land play in responsible conservation and reducing emissions through natural carbon storage is essential,” said Elizabeth Gray, CEO, National Audubon Society. “The Growing Climate Solutions Act will provide the support that farmers, ranchers, foresters, and other producers need to ensure that our working lands are part of the solution for a better future for people and wildlife.”
In April 2021, Spanberger and U.S. Representative Don Bacon (R-NE-02) reintroduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act in the U.S. House. U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have led the legislation in the U.S. Senate.