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Spanberger, Bacon Introduce Growing Climate Solutions Act with Broad Coalition of Support from Farm, Environment, & Industry Organizations

The Bipartisan Climate Legislation Would Help More Farmers and Producers Access Carbon Markets & Monetize Sustainable Practices

Washington, June 26, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representatives Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) and Don Bacon (R-NE-02) today introduced bipartisan legislation to break down barriers for farmers, ranchers, and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets and to reward them for 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. 

The Growing Climate Solutions Act would address this problem by creating a certification program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help solve 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.

“For generations, Central Virginia growers have engaged in voluntary conservation practices that have both improved crop quality and protected the health of our soil and water. These farmers, producers, and agribusinesses have important perspectives and experiences to bring to the table when evaluating how best to tackle the challenges posed by the climate crisis,” said Spanberger. “By establishing a new certification program, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would promote responsible, innovative conservation practices. I’m proud to see our bill receive backing from a wide coalition of supporters — including many prominent farm groups, conservation organizations, and U.S. companies. Our bipartisan legislation demonstrates that Congress can truly achieve tangible results if we work together to find solutions, even on issues as complex as the climate crisis.”

“Many of our nation’s farmers and foresters do not know how to navigate the current carbon credit marketplace. The Growing Climate Solutions Act is a bipartisan approach to provide expertise and a verifiable process to help farmers access this voluntary market while creating an additional source of revenue,” said Bacon. “Nebraska farmers and ranchers have been at the forefront in implementing conservation practices and I will work to assist them monetize these practices while simultaneously helping the environment.”

The Growing Climate Solutions Act is supported by a wide range of farm, environment, and industry organizations in Virginia, Nebraska, and across the country. Click here for a full list of the Growing Climate Solutions Act’s supporters.

“The USDA certification program created by the Growing Climate Solutions Act would help solve technical entry barriers to farmer and forest-landowner participation in carbon credit markets. These issues – including access to reliable information about markets and access to qualified technical assistance providers and credit protocol verifiers – have limited both landowner participation and the adoption of practices to help reduce the costs of developing carbon credits,” said Wayne Pryor, President, Virginia Farm Bureau Federation. “We commend Congresswoman Spanberger and Congressman Bacon for taking the lead on this bill and helping to ensure farmers have opportunities to participate in emerging carbon markets.”

“The Growing Climate Solutions Act is a big step toward ensuring that farmers are part of the climate solution and are rewarded for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing climate resilience,” said Callie Eideberg, Director of Government Relations, Environmental Defense Fund.

“McDonald’s is committed to working collaboratively with all of our suppliers and producers to achieve our science-based climate commitments. As part of that effort, carbon markets will play an important role incentivizing, recognizing and rewarding agriculture producers for the significant positive impacts they can quantifiably deliver, and this legislation will make important steps toward creating these markets,” said Marion Gross, McDonald’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, North America. “We appreciate Representatives Spanberger and Bacon’s leadership to introduce climate policy that benefits both agriculture producers and the environment.”

“The certification program created by the Growing Climate Solutions Act will help solve several issues farmers have faced when dealing with carbon credits,” said Tracy Fitzsimmons, Executive Director, Virginia Cattlemen’s Association. “This program will provide the opportunity to have reliable and credible information available to producers, which is key to success in any program.”

“America’s farmers have a crucial role to play in addressing our changing climate and adopting climate-friendly practices that naturally sequester carbon. This bipartisan bill will help agricultural producers participate in voluntary carbon markets," said Aviva Glaser, Director of Agriculture Policy, National Wildlife Federation. "Thank you to Representatives Spanberger and Bacon for their leadership in finding solutions that not only act on climate, but also work for farmers, ranchers, and forest owners alike."

“The certification program contained in the Growing Climate Solutions Act provides access to critical technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers which will give producers critical information to participate in carbon markets," said Kyle Shreve, Executive Director, Virginia Agribusiness Council. "The members of the Virginia Agribusiness Council commend Congresswoman Spanberger and Congressman Bacon for sponsoring this important legislation.”

Specifically, the Growing Climate Solutions Act establishes a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program through which USDA would be able to provide transparency, legitimacy, and informal endorsement of third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices.

The USDA certification program would make sure these assistance providers have agriculture and forestry expertise, which is lacking in the current marketplace. As part of the program, USDA would administer a new website, which will serve as a “one stop shop” of information and resources for producers and foresters who are interested in participating in carbon markets.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act is cosponsored by U.S. Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01), Stefanik (R-NY-21), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM-03), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE-01), Paul Tonko (D-NY-20), Jim Baird (R-IN-04), John Katko (R-NY-24), and Josh Harder (D-CA-10).

The Spanberger-Bacon legislation is led in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Mike Braun (R-IN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Click here to read the full bill text.

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