Source: American Farm Bureau Federation news release

Agriculture and forestry are the two most important sectors when it comes to offsetting greenhouse gases. The two sectors represent the "oil" needed to fuel a viable greenhouse gas reduction program, according to Dave Miller, chief science officer for AgraGate Climate Credits Corporation and director of research and commodity services for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

Miller spoke to attendees at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 90th annual meeting about market-based incentives like pollutant credit trading to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

With half of existing offsets coming from agriculture and forestry, Miller said national standards are a must, but he was cautious about who should set them.

"I'm happy to see the Agriculture Department is getting engaged in this," Miller said. "If they don't, there are a lot of other people who would like to get involved and their involvement might not be favorable to our interests."

Noting that there is a perception in some circles that agriculture and forestry weaken the cap on greenhouse gas emissions, Miller stressed that agriculture should be acknowledged for the environmental benefits it provides.

"A lot of people think that what we do in farming and forestry should be offered up for free," he explained. "We don't agree. Farmers and foresters should be compensated for planting crops and for farming practices that keep carbon in the soil."

Miller opposes mandatory GHG reductions that would adversely impact agriculture. He also opposes any attempt to regulate methane emissions from livestock under the Clean Air Act. Miller insists that emission offsets must be real, additional, verifiable, permanent and enforceable.

Although carbon markets were created only five years ago, there is a significant growth trend.

"We have 155,000 member families and we are building a nationwide network of contract facilitators in every state," Miller said. "We managed 3.4 million carbon credits in the first six months of operation. Seven state Farm Bureaus are working as facilitators and forest service facilitators are working in 14 states."

Looking to the future, Miller said, the leadership in the 111th U.S. Congress is supportive of the incoming Obama administration's agenda on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We look for early action out of the House and the Senate. There are already no less than 12 proposals on the table for consideration.