How Does Cap and Trade Work and what is Agriculture's Role?
Agriculture is both a source and a reducer of greenhouse gases; farmers generate greenhouse gas emissions through such operations as fertilizer and manure use and tilling soil. At the same time, the plants and soil that comprise farms, can remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and store it in a process called carbon sequestration. By using conservation practices that maximize this sequestration process and reduce greenhouse gas emissions farmers can be an integral piece of a national cap and trade carbon market.
Since a farmer is not a ‘point source emitter,’ such as a factory, it is much harder to regulate the amount of greenhouse gases released on a farm. At the same time, it is often much easier and more cost effective for a farmer to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases they produce than it is for a large factory that may have to invest in more expensive technology. As a result, agriculture can participate in a carbon market in the form of offsets. By reducing the amount of greenhouse gases produced by their operations, farmers will generate credits to sell to heavier emitters that exceed their required emissions cap. Consequently, farmers are rewarded for their environmental stewardship, while the overall emissions cap is maintained.
There are many available opportunities for farmers and ranchers to reduce greenhouse gases. These include: