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On March 10th, Truterra hosted two invitation-only briefings for House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff to discuss carbon markets, on the heels of the rollout of Truterra’s transformational new carbon program, TruCarbon, that helps farmers generate and sell carbon credits to private sector buyers. Specifically, the event focused on how carbon can become a new “double crop” that not only improves on-farm resiliency, but also helps mitigate climate change.
This briefing provided dialogue with key congressional staff at an important moment in the conversation around carbon markets, as Congress, USDA and the Administration are considering how to best support development of these markets.
Truterra VP Jason Weller was joined by several key collaborators in this important effort. Lukas Fricke, a sixth-generation farmer from Ulysses, Nebraska, talked about the challenges facing farmers seeking to adopt carbon-removal practice more widely and addressed how his operation is working with ag retailer Central Valley Ag using Truterra and TruCarbon to advance his stewardship goals. Michele Patron, Senior Director of Sustainability Policy at Microsoft, addressed her company’s ambitious carbon commitments, why they are promoting nature-based solutions, and the critical need to make carbon markets more accessible in order to unlock much-needed supplies of carbon credits. Dr. Cristine Morgan, Chief Scientific Officer of the Soil Health Institute, moderated the discussion and fielded questions from Hill staff members in attendance.
Key questions during the briefings included the topic of additionality, as well as a discussion of both barriers to practice adoption and what the federal government might do to encourage it. Additionality, defined in the carbon market space as creating an incentive for practice change where it was not before, depends on data, noted both Weller and Fricke. The Truterra™ Insights Engine is a key tool in assessing field-level benchmarks so that these “additional” impacts of practices such as reduced tillage can be assessed and monitored. However, both emphasized that these practices rely on broadband connectivity, the top barrier Fricke cited. “It was a quarter mile from where the fiber optic ended to my house,” he told staffers. “It was going to cost $14,000 to get that service that last quarter mile.”
Weller urged the staffers to not only address connectivity issues, but also consider the other two top barriers – cost of practices, especially in terms of the risks they present, and the fact that there are no quick fixes, and these practices require years to refine and generate maximum carbon removal. He further urged federal attention to the challenge of delivering much-needed technical assistance.
In closing, the panel agreed that while there is rapidly growing consensus for action on climate, addressing that concern will take a team effort focused on a shared objective. “We need to make these markets easier and more streamlined,” said Microsoft’s Patron. “We all have to work together to scale this.” Fricke added that he was more than willing to do his part. “A market like this gives my generation the ability to do things differently than in the past,” he said. “I like to think about my data being used for good.”
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