As America starts looking forward to a clean energy future and emissions reductions that are at least 80% lower than they are today, it is becoming clearer that everyone must be an active participant in the new clean energy economy. One of the groups that may be most impacted by a cap on carbon emissions are farmers and people working in the agricultural industry. Modern agriculture is very energy and resource intensive, so even small changes to the price of fuel or fertilizer can impact a farmers bottom line.
But farmers who take an active role in the fight to stop global warming and reduce emissions stand to profit from a well designed cap and trade.
According to a report in Bloomberg.com , farmers can receive carbon credits from the Chicago Climate Exchange for implementing more sustainable agricultural practices. In the report, Bloomberg cited two examples of farmers who were receiving $3,000 and $1,500 annually for implementing a 'no-till' farming practices. Tilling to prepare a field for agriculture releases CO2 is stored underground in organic material. No-till farming allows farmers to continue to utilize their land for agricultural purposes, but it requires farmers not to agitate their soil before planting, thus keeping organic matter and carbon emissions in the ground.
No-till farming is also cheaper than conventional farming. Farmers do not need to use machines required to till a field, saving in fuel costs and more carbon emissions. It is estimated that corn-farmers that implement no-till practices can save $83 per acre in fuel and fertilizer costs.
In addition to the emissions reductions that can be gained through no-till farming, agricultural land can also be used to produce bio-fuels that burn cleaner than conventional fuels and farm land can also be utilized for locations of wind turbines and solar panels.
The role that farmers play in the clean energy economy is going to be crucial if we want to see emissions reductions that match the goals scientists say we must reach. By taking an active role, farmers can make money, produce food and unlock more real world global warming solutions.