Although there isn’t a mandated cap-and-trade policy in the United States, cap-and-trade programs have been created and some even saw great success. One such successful program was run by the North Dakota Farmers Union. Over the course of four years, 3,900 farmers in 40 states received more than $7 million when they sold their carbon credits. Unfortunately, the dead-in-the-water federal cap-and-trade legislation has brought this once successful program to a standstill.
An Associated Press article describes the current state of the program:
“Carbon credits that fetched up to $7 a metric ton a few years ago are now nearly worthless," said Robert Carlson, president of the North Dakota Farmers Union. The group has 6 million tons worth of credits that have gone unsold, and while it will continue to try to sell those, no new credits will be issued after this year.
Farmers who instituted eco-friendly farming measures could turn around and make a profit off the realized carbon reduction. These measures included no-till farming, methane capture and even simply growing grass and trees. Without the added financial benefit of the cap-and-trade program, some of these farmers may return to less sustainable farming practices.
Unfortunately, the changing political climate in Washington is not going to be receptive to cap-and-trade legislation. Without an official policy, programs like the one run by the North Dakota Farmers Union are likely to close up shop, and farmers could lose out on millions of dollars.