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USDA seeks public input on greenhouse gas program

This program seeks to enhance the participation of the agricultural and forestry sectors in voluntary carbon markets.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public input on protocols for a new Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program under the Growing Climate Solutions Act (GCSA). Announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at Johns Hopkins University, this initiative aims to enhance participation in voluntary carbon markets by agriculture and forest sectors.

“High-integrity voluntary carbon markets offer a promising tool to create new revenue streams for producers and achieve greenhouse gas reductions from the agriculture and forest sectors,” Vilsack said. “However, a variety of barriers have hindered agriculture’s participation in voluntary carbon markets, and we are seeking to change that by establishing a new Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Program.”

Authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, this program will facilitate better technical assistance by providing a list of qualified providers and verifiers, ensuring credible carbon credit generation, and reducing market confusion. The USDA will also list accepted voluntary carbon credit protocols to ensure consistency, reliability, effectiveness, efficiency, and transparency.

USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt emphasized the potential benefits for landowners. “By adopting science-based practices to reduce emissions or sequester carbon on their land, farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners can access a new income stream through carbon credit sales while also combating climate change,” Moffitt said.

The USDA’s Request for Information will be published in the Federal Register on May 29, 2024, and will seek feedback on:

  • Criteria for evaluating protocols to ensure consistency and reliability.
  • Information on specific protocols for inclusion in the program.
  • Qualifications for technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers.

Interested parties can submit comments during the 30-day public comment period at www.regulations.gov. The USDA will also seek industry participation in an advisory committee to further inform program development. More information is available at www.ams.usda.gov/services/GCSA or by contacting Program Manager Sasha Strohm at [email protected] or 202-720-5705.

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