Farmers Union disburses $1.3 million to South Dakota farmers and ranchers | TSLN.com

Farmers Union disburses $1.3 million to South Dakota farmers and ranchers

HURON, SD ­- More than 414 South Dakota farmers and ranchers will receive checks in the mail this week totaling over $1.3 million. Through the Farmers Union Carbon Credit Program, South Dakota producers earn money by capturing and storing carbon dioxide in their soil and will receive annual payments based on the acres they have enrolled and the price of the offsets traded.

“South Dakota Farmers Union became involved with this program as a way to support land stewardship along with creating economic incentives for farmers and ranchers,” said SDFU Vice President Larry Birgen. “Through adding value to agriculture production by family farmers, we believe future benefits for those practicing good land management could be unlimited.”

Nationwide, this pool of enrollments sequestered carbon dioxide from 2.8 million acres using no-till cropping practices and by converting cropland to long term grass stands, as in Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres. After independent verification of the enrolled acres, the tons were registered and sold on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) over the last several months. Through the amount of stored carbon dioxide, the estimated annual emissions of over 300,000 automobiles were offset.

Farmers Union was approved as an aggregator for the CCX to pool and market carbon offsets in 2006 and has since become one of the largest providers of agricultural soil carbon offsets to the CCX. The CCX is the world’s first greenhouse gas emissions registry, reduction and trading system, trading more than 86 million tons of carbon offsets to date.

In addition to no-till and seeded grass offsets, credits can also be earned with prescribed grazing on native rangeland, tree planting projects, and methane capture projects. Additional pools of these offsets will be marketed in the coming months.

The enrollment process continues and the next pool deadline will be August 15 for no-till/seeded grass offsets. Although the program is voluntary, signed contracts are considered legally binding. Additional information on the program may be found by clicking on the Carbon Credit Program link at http://www.sdfu.org.