RIPE100 is a proposal to directly pay farmers a minimum of $100 per acre or animal unit for voluntary land stewardship that can provide a greater benefit to the public through carbon sequestration, improved soil health, cleaner water, water conservation, flood mitigation, pollination, biodiversity and other environmental services. This approach is supported by many program precedents, volumes of peer-reviewed research, and offers producers adequate incentive to adopt key conservation measures.
RIPE100 is designed to remedy many of the shortcomings of carbon farming payment programs, which are a net economic loss for most farmers, and allows farmers to participate in both systems. It also promotes diversity, equity and inclusion by addressing barriers that have often kept farmers of color, smaller diversified farmers, women farmers and young farmers from participating in previous conservation programs.
The RIPE100 plan:
- Enables all farmers and ranchers to participate with a producer-friendly program that is simple and practical. The list of qualifying practices includes realistic options, such as utilizing cover crops and nutrient management, on farms of all sizes and types. The simple enrollment program would not include ranked applications, ensuring all producers can participate.
- Rewards early adopters and demonstrates greenhouse gas “additionality,” allowing all producers to be compensated for the environmental benefits they deliver regardless of when they adopted conservation practices.
- Compensates voluntary stewardship at levels that align with the combined environmental values delivered, including mitigating climate change, conserving water and improving water quality, enhancing soil health, preserving biodiversity, protecting endangered species, mitigating floods and improving air quality.
- Promotes equity and inclusion by addressing barriers that have often kept producers of color, smaller diversified producers, women producers and beginning producers from participating in agricultural programs.
- Does not compete for funds against existing safety net programs. The program will be appropriated as part of new funding streams for climate change and environmental benefits, such as a new title in the Farm Bill or a climate bill. (A pilot or initial phase may be authorized and appropriated within standard funding vehicles.)
- Complements existing markets and programs by allowing stacking payments up to the public value delivered by the practice. Program will leverage biofuel markets and other conservation programs and policies, such that producers may receive benefits from multiple programs so long as the total payment does not exceed the value the public receives from the practices.
- Allows producers to receive a reasonable return, with payment levels that surpass policy costs, including the full cost to implement voluntary stewardship practices plus indirect costs impacted by climate regulations such as higher fuel and fertilizer prices. This payment is $100 per acre for the pilot and first phase of the program.
This plan is uniquely designed to ensure that climate policy will not hamper farmer profitability, offering a path to involve farmers as true champions of climate policy as part of a broader bipartisan climate coalition to improve American farmers’ financial and environmental sustainability.