Dewey Van Wynsberghe made the trip from Van Wert in northwest Ohio to Purdue University on the West Lafayette campus last week to participate in the Purdue Top Farmer Crop Workshop sponsored by the Purdue Ag Economics Department. His wife Rachel and family accompanied him. While he began by saying he's not a public speaker, the information he imparted grabbed the attention of those in the audience. Why? He was talking about getting paid for something he was already doing.
He's a no-tiller, and learned about the National Farmer's Union program to bundle together carbon credits and trade them on the new carbon credit exchange. Finding information online, he signed up and enrolled his farm. "We were already doing what you needed to do to participate, so it seemed like the thing to do," Dewey told his audience last week.
Carbon credit trading revolves around the idea that companies, primarily large utilities that struggle with meeting regulations regarding carbon emissions, can buy credits on the exchange placed there by someone who is doing the opposite- adding carbon back into the ecosystem. When you no-till and return carbon to the soil instead of tilling it up and destroying it, you're building carbon levels in the soil.
Farmer's Union offered it as a service earlier this year. The next opportunity to sign up and enroll acreage is in early August, Dewey says.
The payoff is not huge, but all he's doing to earn it, beyond what he's doing now, is complete paperwork. If you weren't already no-tilling and wanted to participate, you would have to make changes in your operation first before your farm could qualify for the program, he notes.
He expects to get about $2 per acre for giving up his carbon credits, per year. He agreed to a five-year contract. After that time he would be free to sell his credits elsewhere. Earlier this year, Barry Fisher, a conservation tillage promoter with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, cautioned farmers about tying up too many acres in the carbon-credit trading program.
He noted that carbon credits are already much more valuable in Europe, with European farmers receiving several times more per acre for enrolling their acreage. However, there is no indication when those higher prices might materialize on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.
Van Wynsberghe notes that he ahs yet to receive a check for his credits, but trusts that he will, since the National Farmers Union is a reliable organization. He's not a member- membership is not a requirement to participate in the carbon credits trading project.