Building Blocks For Carbon Markets

New legislation could set up the building blocks for farmers to be able to participate in ecosystem markets and sell carbon credits. 

Jason Weller, Vice President of Truterra at Land O’Lakes, testified in late June to the Senate committee on agriculture, nutrition and forestry regarding The Growing Climate Solutions Act. He joined AgriTalk host Chip Flory to discuss how this opens new opportunities for row crop and livestock farmers. 

“It really sets up the opportunity with the building block approach where farmers can voluntarily track and ultimately be able to market new credits from their fields,” Weller says. “This could potentially be a new revenue source for farmers and ranchers based on their management and stewardship of their production systems.” 

He says the credits can be generated by row crop farmers in the production decisions they make and for livestock farmers in how they manage their livestock, pasture and range land. 

“This will be a new class of commodities called ecosystem credits or carbon credits. This legislation first sets up the ability for farmers to get a technical service provider certified by the USDA, to help farmers get into this marketplace and create credits.  And secondly, for the marketplace, you get credit verifiers to ensure these credits actually have values that purchasers that buy these credits are trusted,” Weller says. 

Truterra was originally launched by Land O’Lakes as Sustain, but the business division was rebranded at the end of 2019. It continues the goal of driving sustainability practices, measures and understanding across agriculture and the food system—including consumer companies. 

Weller says Truterra has helped retailers and farmers differentiate some of their products while protecting their freedom to operate. The voluntary program signifies how they are stewarding their soil and water resources with advanced and innovative practices. 

“We work with our ag retailer owners across the Midwest, and we help them design sustainability programs that they can bring to their farmer owners, their farmer customers. And we're also working with world-class food companies like Campbell’s Soup, Tate and Lyle, Nestle Purina, and some other new companies coming down the pipe. They're interested in working with our farm network to ultimately drive their sustainability goals for their corporations,” Weller explains. 
The program has its roots in dairy, much like Land O Lakes, but has also expanded to include WinField United as well as the Purina teams. 

“It actually originated on the dairy side, and I think we there's a lot we can learn from the dairy producers’ experience on the sustainability journey on this topic,” Weller says. “It's quickly expanded across the ag industry, whether on the protein side to the row crop reduction side,” Weller says. 

Learn more about Truterra and the Senate bill as well as the companion house bill in this segment from AgriTalk: