By Susan Campbell, CO CCL co-state coordinator
In June 2021, the U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA) in a stunning 92-8 vote, with both Sen. Hickenlooper and Sen. Bennet voting in favor. Since then, the bill has been working slowly through the House Agriculture Committee, still a heavily bipartisan bill, but facing election year politics of inaction. The bill is straightforward. It will make it easier for farmers, ranchers and private forest owners to understand and access the voluntary carbon credit markets, by creating USDA protocols for agricultural carbon credits and a voluntary training and certification program for technical advisors in the field of agricultural carbon credits.
Leading farm, ranch and private forest owner organizations representing small and large producers, as well as key environmental and climate organizations, have voiced strong support. Examples include the Farm Bureau and the Colorado Farm Bureau, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, Farmers’ Union, and US Cattlemen’s Association, as well as the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense Fund, Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, and National Wildlife Federation. Citizens’ Climate Lobby has also been working hard to win additional co-sponsors and supporters in the House, especially among House Republicans. Strong Democratic support is needed, too (Rep. Neguse recently joined as a co-sponsor.)
If enacted, the GCSA will be the first substantial freestanding U.S. climate bill to pass Congress. It facilitates private carbon market support of farmers, ranchers and forest owners interested in investing in measurable climate-smart practices. These practices include reduced use of fossil fuels and synthetic fertilizers in no-till or reduced-till agriculture, regenerative ranching, and conservation practices involving increased carbon storage in the biomass and soil of wetlands, native grasses and trees on agricultural lands. It helps get the family farm community on board in developing climate change solutions, while also growing needed revenue streams to diversify farm income in tough drought, heat, and farm price conditions.
With a vote possible before the November midterm elections, now is the time to fight inaction in Congress and call and write our Republican and Democratic House members from Colorado urging support of the GCSA.