Guide to help farmers with carbon markets
SLEEPY EYE — Julia Wickham, Agriculture, Energy and Environmental outreach director for U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., fielded questions and input from more than a dozen farmers and others at a Farm Bill listening session Tuesday at Sleepy Eye Coffee Company.
Wickham said Smith is working with other politicians on carbon contracts and related regulations for carbon markets.
“Because there is no standardization in private companies, there are few regulations yet for carbon markets,” said Wickham.
“Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU), Farmers Legal Action Group (FLAG) and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) put together the Farmers’ Guide to Carbon Markets in Minnesota,” she said. “It’s about finding carbon contracts, what to look for and how to make sure farmers are properly compensated.”
Wickham said Smith will support a bill for the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) to help set carbon sequestration standards.
The 32-page guide has information to help farmers navigate carbon contracts. It was developed in response to questions and concerns raised by MFU members.
Contracts define relations between farmers, large companies and often third-party vendors. With some of the world’s largest companies setting net-zero emissions targets, farmers are asked to change carbon sequester operations and sell companies credit for sequestered carbon.
“There’s a lot of crooks out there,” said former Nicollet County Commissioner John Luepke.
A Madelia farmer said he was concerned about cooperative consolidation and getting enough nitrogen in the fall.
He said he was pleased with the service he received at the Farm Service Agency office in Sleepy Eye.
Jerome Graff of rural Sanborn said some farmers “have an attitude problem that gets things screwed up.”
“Some farmers are grabbing farm land, creating LLCs, filing bankruptcy and transferring everything to another company,” said Graff. “It’s driving land and rent prices up.”
Theresa Keaveny of New Ulm said she’s like to see more flexible cost sharing for perennials and shrubs which she said are important to fight climate change.
Randy Krzmarzick of Sleepy Eye said agriculture research is important to all.
“In a world where it seems everybody fights everybody, farmers agree on a lot,” said Krzmarzick.
Luepke weighed in on farm labor and foreign workers.
“If they’re here to work, good for them and us,” Luepke said.
Wickham said Minnesota is fortunate to have Sens. Smith, Amy Klobuchar and Rep. Angie Craig all on the agriculture committee.
The carbon market guide is available at http://www.flaginc.org/