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Spanberger Proposes Carbon Trading Program for Farmers

Spanberger stands beside a constituent
Abigail Spanberger stopped for photos with supporters in Chesterfield on election day last year. (Photo: David Streever/VPM News)

*Patrick Larsen reported this story

On Friday, Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) proposed the Growing Climate Solutions Act. The bipartisan legislation aims to help farmers and foresters get involved in carbon trading, the practice of buying and selling permits - or credits - to emit carbon dioxide. Those credits are intended to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere with market-based incentives.

Spanberger’s bill, cosponsored by Rep. Don Bacon (R-Nebraska), would direct the USDA to create guidelines and verify third-party groups to assist farmers entering the carbon market.

Spanberger says that climate friendly farming and forestry practices are already well known.

“Good forest management practices also ensure that our forests are able to pull that CO2 and emit back out oxygen into our environment,” she said.

However, many farmers don’t know how to take advantage of the carbon marketplace.

“This bill gets at the heart of that and provides - creates a role for farmers and producers,” she said.

Ben Rowe, national affairs coordinator at the Virginia Farm Bureau, says the bill would greatly simplify things for farmers and foresters - who now face a complicated carbon marketplace.

“Putting this under one agency that already has experience working with farmers gives them the certainty they need,” Rowe said.

He says making this revenue stream more accessible would give a boost to farmers who embrace environmental practices - that’s an especially powerful incentive due to big losses from COVID-19.

Spanberger says that the bill would be another step closer to carbon neutrality.