House Agriculture Committee members Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.) are introducing legislation today aimed at legitimizing carbon markets for farmers. The bill would grant USDA the authority to certify organizations that measure farms’ greenhouse gas emissions reductions, which growers could sell as carbon offsets. Introduction of the bill comes just before the expected release next week of a House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis report that will include recommendations for broader climate legislation and next steps for Congress.

The legislation is the companion to a Senate measure authored by Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.). The committee discussed the carbon markets bill this week during its first meeting since March.

The idea is increasingly backed by farm groups eager to get pay for their members for adopting environmentally friendly growing practices, but there is still debate over the science underpinning proponents’ argument that agriculture can help capture a lot more carbon in the soil.

The Stabenow-Braun bill received overwhelmingly positive reviews from the committee, but several senators raised concerns that a carbon credit verification system could inadvertently benefit corporations more than farmers, POLITICO’s Morning Agriculture team reported.

“What we don’t want … is the third party verifiers who are going to receive USDA certified labels, or the corporations that want to greenwash their businesses” to be the primary beneficiaries, said Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.). “How do we make sure that the benefit, the value actually goes to the farmers and not the middlemen or corporations?”

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