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Spring Planting: Grains, Vegetables … and Carbon

March 25, 2008

Chippewa Falls, WI – As well as selling their grain, vegetables, and milk, Wisconsin farmers can now make money by "harvesting" carbon. A series of meetings this week is looking to sign up farmers for a "carbon credit" program, where farmers can earn money on the Chicago Climate Exchange.

Sue Beitlich with the Wisconsin Farmers Union says farmers can boost revenue while helping fight global warming. She says there are a number of practices that don't disturb soil and do keep carbon trapped.

"From no-till farming or strip tillage, if they've seeded down grasses, or if they've planted new trees, these are all storing carbon, and they could enroll in our program."

Beitlich says farmers are encouraged to do what they can, even if they can't dedicate their whole operation to offsetting carbon pollution.

"They don't have to enroll their entire farm, it can be certain fields - but they have to promise that they'll continuously no-till or keep that in seeded grasses for five years."

She says farmers may have to change their perspectives to an extent, but there are rewards.

"It does take a little bit to get the idea of storing carbon in your soil, that we are offsetting pollution that is out there and being emitted."

According to Beitlich, nearly 30,000 Wisconsin acres have been enrolled in the program since it started up a year and a half ago.

The meetings will take place in eight different counties on Thursday and Friday. For more information on the meeting, visit wisconsinfarmersunion.com.

Rob Ferrett/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - WI