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Opinion
Amanda Little

A Better Way for Farmers to Cash In on Carbon

CO2 credits should be left to the private sector, while the government helps scale climate-smart agriculture.

Farmers should be given tax credits to encourage practices that lock away carbon in soil.

Farmers should be given tax credits to encourage practices that lock away carbon in soil.

Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

There’s growing enthusiasm inside and outside the Biden administration for establishing a market that would make carbon dioxide a cash crop for U.S. farmers. The potential climate benefits are huge: U.S. farms have the capacity to sequester hundreds of millions of metric tons of C02 every year — many times the amount of carbon offset annually by the country's solar industry. And while some skeptics are still cautioning against these markets, in fact, they already exist.

The private sector has been developing agricultural carbon markets for years now. Startups including Nori, Indigo Agriculture Inc. and Soil Metrics, and non-profit enterprises including Comet-Farm and Openteam are laying down promising foundations.