RIPE Partnership Pilot: Work Stream to Focus on Payment Terms
The RIPE Partnership project will include several national research work streams in addition to piloting our payment program in Arkansas, Minnesota, North Dakota and Virginia. In addition to the productivity work stream, Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation will focus on payment terms. SoAR will engage experts and producers to generate guidance for setting the most effective payment terms to incentivize and reward the adoption of climate-smart practices.
While many producers practice climate-smart agriculture — with more than 50% of farmers employing low- or no-till or cover crops — fewer than 10% are enrolled in USDA conservation programs like EQIP or CSP. Despite these low numbers, demand is high. Between 2010 and 2020, just 31% of farmers who applied to EQIP and 42% who applied to CSP received contracts.
Simultaneously, the number of non-governmental programs that reward sustainable agriculture is dramatically increasing. But despite the growth in opportunities, as of April 2021, fewer than 1% of farmers had entered into a carbon contract.
Although some don’t participate because the program was not offered to them, many others opt out because the returns would not be high enough or they do not understand the program. Meanwhile, farm economics remain precarious, with 80% of U.S. farmers pointing to rising input costs as the number-one risk to their profitability.
Given this state of affairs, we have an important opportunity to incentivize the adoption of new climate-smart practices and increase the adoption of existing practices into more acres per farm, while also driving economic stability. RIPE believes that farmers deserve to be fairly compensated for the environmental benefits they deliver with a voluntary, easy-to-understand program that is available to all producers nationwide.
The payment terms work stream of the RIPE Partnership will convene technical experts, economists, producers and other stakeholders over the next three years to deliver recommendations for the specifications of a payment level that incentivizes practice adoption, pays beyond the cost of implementation and is fiscally sound.
As the pilot payment per acre or animal unit is already set at $100, this work will inform RIPE’s longer term program design.
To learn more about the pilot project and opportunities to participate, contact Danica MacAvoy.