ANDERSON — Legislation designed to give farmers and foresters greater access to carbon markets was passed by the U.S. Senate on Thursday.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act, introduced last year by Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., drew overwhelming bipartisan support in passing by a vote of 92-8. Supporters, including the Indiana Farm Bureau and the Indiana Corn and Soybean Alliance, said the bill will simultaneously give farmers a greater understanding of how carbon markets work and raise farm income.

“It gives some reliability and stability to a market that’s in its infancy,” said Bob White, director of national government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau. “They made a few changes to get some more people on board, as you can tell by the final vote. It’s a good policy.”

White said that officials with the United States Department of Agriculture are working to stabilize the program, and the enhancements they’re planning will help Indiana farmers in the long term.

The legislation will set up a third-party certification process through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, create an online resource for farmers to connect with carbon market experts, and establish an advisory council to give input to the USDA on the program.

“Farmers have always led the way in protecting our environment, and the Growing Climate Solutions Act helps them get paid for their sustainable practices through voluntary carbon credit markets,” Braun said in a press release.

White said the legislation will also pave the way for farmers across the state to tap a new source of revenue.

“There’s a lot of measures that farmers already do to protect the environment, and they’ve been doing that some of them for years,” he said. “This is something that may end up being and should end up being another revenue stream for farmers out there.”

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