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RMFU carbon credit program expands

DENVER—Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) announced today that the Chicago Climate Exchange has approved the expansion of its carbon credit program for agriculture producers in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. The program has been created through a partnership with the National Farmers Union (NFU) and approved by the Chicago Climate Exchange to enroll agriculture producers’ acres into blocks of credits that will be traded similarly to other agricultural commodities.

The program, which was introduced last year on a limited basis, has expanded and will be available to 22 Colorado counties, 10 Wyoming counties and 16 New Mexico counties. Producers in these counties who qualify for the program can be compensated for establishing conservation tillage (including no-till) and long-term grass seeding practices (including alfalfa for hay). These practices store or “sequester” carbon and reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, reducing greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

“The Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s carbon credit program is an example of how the New Energy Economy can benefit our rural communities,” said Colorado Governor Ritter. “Bringing a new revenue stream to agriculture that also works with our efforts to address climate change is a great example of how Colorado can benefit from these innovative programs.”

This year’s deadline to enroll in the program is August 15, 2007.

“Because of the August 15 deadline, we will be working very hard over the upcoming months to make sure every eligible agriculture producer in our three-state region will have the opportunity to enroll, which will insure that rural communities can capture this revenue stream to support rural economies,” RMFU President Kent Peppler said. “We will hold public information meetings from May to August. Look for more details soon about the meetings on our web site at www.rmfu.org.”

Enrollment will be done through the internet at www.nfu.org. The website furnishes producers with the information about the qualifying counties, eligibility guidelines, frequently asked questions, an income estimator, toll-free telephone numbers, and the relatively simple enrollment forms.

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture John Stulp said, “This carbon credit program is good for Colorado and the region for several reasons. It not only provides appropriate incentives for farmers to invest in practices that reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere, but also supports practices that conserve water and reduce soil erosion.”

The Farmers Union serves as a carbon aggregator so that individual farmers will be able to group their carbon in large enough quantities to be traded and marketed on the Exchange one year at a time. In 2006, more than 40 Colorado agriculture producers enrolled 16,600 acres into the program.

The RMFU board of directors last year approved cooperation with the North Dakota Farmers Union carbon credit program, which now includes all Farmers Union states. NFU is the first national farm organization to become an aggregator of carbon.

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is one of six greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, producing an increase in temperature. Companies and other entities that are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere can buy credits of carbon being sequestered in the soil through the Chicago Climate Exchange. Once the credits are aggregated and sold, producers earn income based on their enrolled acres and the capability of their soil for sequestering carbon dioxide.

For more information on RMFU’s carbon credit program contact Tony Frank, RMFU director of renewable energy development, 303-283-3532 or tony.frank@co-ops.org.

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