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RMFU launches new carbon credit program

Greenwood Village, Colo.>> Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU) announced today that it is launching a new carbon credit program through National Farmers Union (NFU), approved by the Chicago Climate Exchange, to enroll agriculture producers’ acres into blocks of credits that will be traded similarly to other agricultural commodities. Currently agriculture producers and landowners in four northeastern Colorado counties may enroll acres under long-term grass seeding practices, including alfalfa for hay. The counties include Logan, Phillips, Sedgwick and Yuma. The program will be expanded in the near future to include additional counties and practices such as conservation tillage.

The Farmers Union will serve 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. Please see the calendar section of this website for the time and place of public meetings to be held in October (look at right side of screen).

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is one of six greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, producing an increase in temperature. Large companies and other entities that are releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere can buy credits of carbon being stored in the soil through the Exchange. Once the credits are aggregated and sold, producers will earn income based on their enrolled acres. New eligible producers can receive payments for both the 2005 and 2006 crop years if they enroll before the fast-approaching Nov. 3 deadline.

“Because of the Nov. 3 deadline, we are working hard over the upcoming weeks to get this program up and running as soon as humanly possible so that Colorado producers will have this opportunity to “reach back” and pick up crop year 2005 carbon credits,” said John Stencel, president, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “We are planning public information meetings between Oct. 27 and Nov.1. Look for more details soon about the meetings on the RMFU website at www.rmfu.org. ”

Enrollment will be done through the internet at www.nfu.org. The website furnishes producers with eligibility guidelines, frequently asked questions, an income estimator, toll-free telephone numbers, and the relatively simple enrollment forms. For additional information or help in applying, producers are encouraged to contact their local Farmers Union Insurance agents or contact Tony Frank, director of renewable energy, RMFU, at tony.frank@co-ops.org, 303-283-3532.

United States Senator Ken Salazar said, “This carbon credit program is good for Colorado for multiple reasons; it supports agricultural producers, our land and our water resources. I applaud the Farmers Union for their work to preserve agriculture by sponsoring this new emerging marketplace of financial incentives to help support family farmers and ranchers while protecting our natural resources.”

Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Ament said, “Colorado producers have been good stewards of the land, and this carbon credit program is a new way to help provide incentives to Colorado producers who protect our soil and water resources for future generations.”

Under the current program, Colorado producers in the four northeastern counties can be compensated for establishing long-term grasslands and alfalfa. These practices store or “sequester” carbon and reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The RMFU board of directors approved cooperation with the North Dakota Farmers Union carbon credit program which includes all the Farmers Union states. NFU is the first national farm organization aggregator of carbon. North Dakota Farmers Union will administer the carbon credit program for the Farmers Union states.