One Step

Almost 5 years ago I went to a meeting in Woodburn Indiana about nitrogen management in corn. There was a person there from the Environmental Defense Fund with brochures about selling carbon credits, i.e., we’d get paid for farming in a way that burned less carbon or sequestered more in the soil.

I really had no idea what the Environmental Defense Fund was. I thought I knew something about them, but I realized later that I had them confused with the Environment Working Group, famous in the ag world for publishing how much individual farmers got paid in government subsidies.[1]

I was curious though, both for the high-minded principle of doing something good by burning less carbon, and more by what Sir Albert Howard[2] called “the god-cursed thirst for profit.[3]

I emailed the person at the EDF about this and she put me in touch with the group who was doing this, an outfit in Canada called Canadian Carbon Solutions.

Now, I’m predisposed to like Canadians, I worked up there for years. As I once told my friends there, “Canada has fulfilled what the US promised in the 1960’s.”[4]

I started exchanging information with Canadian Carbon Solutions, sending them our field records, yield data, variable rate fertilization shape files, and so on. It went on and on.

I retired from farming in 2016, and it was still going on. My nephew Tom took over responding to their requests and I continued to drag information out of our farming records, while complete, were pretty disorganized.

The information requests finally trickled off, and I figured that was the end of that. But then this summer Tom called me up.

Tom: We got paid!
Me: For what?
Tom: Carbon credits!

We sold 70 tons of carbon credits for around 20 dollars a ton. For our farm that’s a fraction of 1% of our revenue, but I couldn’t be more pleased by it. It’s not the answer to solving the disaster we’re creating by burning fossil fuels[5] but it’s a step in the right direction and I couldn’t be prouder for being part of it or for having Tom carry it on.

P.S. As Tom pointed out after I published this, that payout was in Canadian dollars. In that case, it’s a lot of loonies!

1. You can bet our elected representatives put a stop to that in a hurry. Can’t let a bunch of libtard tree huggers embarrass those rugged individualists who farm the land and keep electing them by making it public how much government welfare they get. (Full disclosure, I cheerfully cashed every welfare check the government sent my way as a farmer.)
2. Author of “An Agricultural Testament” one of the best books ever on responsible farming.
3. 1 Timothy 6:10.
4. This was around 1999. I expect in these Trumpian days they now understand what I meant.
5. AKA climate change or global warning, but it all comes down to our insatiable appetite for fossil fuels.

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