|By CINDY LADAGE
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Farmers and landowners have the opportunity to lower the greenhouse effect by implementing environmental practices to lower levels of carbon dioxide and methane.
Illinois is the first in the nation to offer farmers and landowners the Illinois Conservation and Climate Initiative (ICCI). The project is a chance to earn and sell greenhouse gas emissions credits by adopting various conservation practices.
Examples of acceptable conservation practices include: conservation tillage, planting grasses and trees and capturing methane with manure digesters.
“This is a win-win project for both Illinois farmers and the environment, providing a little extra income, while reducing agricultural runoff impacting our lakes and streams and helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” explained Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Doug Scott.
Leslie Sgro, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), expressed excitement for the program, too.
“We at the Illinois DNR are delighted to be part of this exciting initiative,” Sgro said. “It meshes so well with what we are all about at DNR - managing, sustaining and conserving our natural resources.”
The project is being spearheaded by two groups. The first is the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), which according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA), is North America’s only voluntary, legally binding greenhouse-gas emission reduction and trading system.
CCX allows the carbon benefits from conservation practices to be quantified, credited and sold to its members, including companies, municipalities and institutions, that have made a commitment to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and wish to do so by purchasing carbon offset credits.
The CCX website www.chicagoclimatex.com/about_ccfe/index.html said the Chicago Climate Futures Exchange (CCFE) oversees the trading aspect of this new commodity. The CCFE is a Commodity Futures Trading Commission-designated contract market which offers standardized and cleared futures contracts on emission allowances and other environmental products.
The second partner is the Delta Institute, www.delta-institute.org, a nonprofit group that promotes environmental quality and community economic development. “We are pleased to be working in partnership with the State of Illinois to help the agricultural community take advantage of carbon trading opportunities,” Delta Institute Co-Director Tim Brown said.
The Delta Institute is responsible for combining the credits from many different farmers and landowners in order to sell them in large blocks to CCX members. State agencies, including the Illinois EPA and Illinois DNR, are conducting outreach and education to identify farmers who want to voluntarily participate.
Emissions marketing is a new aspect offered to Illinois agriculture, providing only a modest income. IDOA pointed out that this could change at some point in the future. In areas like Europe and Asia, where mandatory greenhouse gas limits have been adopted, emissions marketing is much more viable.
Terry Davis, a farmer from Roseville, Ill. and president of the Assoc. of Illinois Soil and Water Conservation Districts, is one of the first in Illinois to sign up for ICCI.
“As a grain producer in Illinois and a no-tiller, I welcome the opportunity to become involved in the reduction of greenhouse gas while improving the sustainability of the soil for the future and I am personally enrolling my no-till acres in the ICCI,” Davis said. “The SWCDs of Illinois that I am a part of share this commitment to preserve the resources of Illinois to allow future generations the same opportunities that we now enjoy.”
This farm news was published in the February 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.