Farmers using no-till and/or continuous grassland practices since 1997 can qualify for the Farmers Union Carbon Credit Program, announced last week by Kansas Farmers Union president Donn Teske at a press conference in Manhattan.
Qualifiers for the program are paid financial incentives for practices that store, or sequester, carbon in the soil.
Farmers Union has been approved as an aggregator by the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) which allows them to enroll producer acreages of carbon into blocks of credits that will be traded on the CCX, much like other agricultural commodities. Credits are purchased on the CCX by companies wishing to offset their own carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Once the credits are sold, producers earn income based on the acres they have enrolled.
Farmers wanting to enroll in the program can log onto www.nfu.org and click on the Carbon Credits link. An online application must be completed.
Deadline for the 2006 program is Nov. 3. Those that enroll and are accepted in the 2006 program will be paid over five years; producers enrolling after that date are paid over a four year contract.
"We are getting paid $6,500 for a 900-acre farm over five years," says Teske of his own farm near Wheaton.
Presently, no-till farms in the eastern half of the state are eligible for the program, and grasslands throughout the state. Qualifying regions are further defined on the Web site.
Adrian Polansky, Kansas Secretary of Agriculture, is enrolling qualifying portions of his Republic County farm in the program. The application, he notes, can be completed in an evening. Payment rates are not known until after a block of acreage is accepted and traded on the CCX, Polansky adds.
Carbon sequestration is in its infancy now, but Polansky says producers should get into the program in these early stages.
"As we look to the future, I'm convinced there will be a world market for Kansas farmers, not just the U.S.," he says. "The value of the carbon credit program will be increased over what we see today."
Adds Fred Cholick, dean of agriculture at Kansas State University: "It is a win-win program. It is good for the environment, production agriculture and our producers. Everyone benefits. This benefits Kansas and is a benefit throughout the world. This mode works: giving credit for improving the environment."