Addition to Climate Bill: Cash for No-Till Farming
Des Moines Register, Philip Brasher
Published June 26, 2009
Farmers who already conserve carbon in the soil by not plowing it could qualify for the new credits to keep them from breaking up the land and releasing the carbon into the air.
About 1.2 million of the 25 million acres of Iowa land planted to corn and soybeans each year are continually farmed without tillage, the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation said.
The money that farmers would get would come from utilities, refiners and other companies willing to make such payments in lieu of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The bill would impose caps on emissions but allow polluters to meet them through buying credits rather than changing their operations.
Environmentalists have long fought against providing credits for existing farm practices, arguing that they would do nothing to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions, which is the bill's goal. Don Carr, a spokesman for the Environmental Working Group, said Congress was opening "a huge loophole to allow farmers to do what they are already doing while letting polluters off the hook."