While farmers have long supported the opportunity to be compensated for carbon farming with voluntary programs and markets, most do not support comprehensive climate policy because the policies proposed thus far will negatively impact farmers’ economic viability.
Climate policy increases farmers’ input costs – such as fertilizer and fuel – by around $10-$30 per acre. Many farmers are already operating at a net loss, so expecting them to endorse policies that will harm them further is not fair nor realistic.
The Biden administration and Congress have made it clear they plan to introduce sweeping climate policies across the U.S. economy, including the agriculture sector. A core proposal circulating in Washington, D.C. is to offer producers carbon farming payments valued at $20/ton of avoided greenhouse gas emissions, which translates to around $10/acre for most stewardship practices.
A $10/acre payment level does not cover the cost of adopting most emissions-cutting practices (e.g. $38/acre for cover crops) nor the raised input costs caused by climate policy (e.g. $10-$30/acre), leaving most farmers further in debt.
Carbon farming payments alone rarely cover the cost of adopting the practice, so it will lead to low levels of practice adoption and continued lack of support from the farming sector for climate policy.
Citations for the figures can be found in our White Paper on RIPE100.