Ponoka Fertilizer held a seminar on April 26 to educate producers in the area on carbon offsets.
As of January 2012 farmers will be able to claim carbon offsets from soil or other agricultural practices.
“The presentation is to bring people up to date in the Ponoka area as to the current status of the Alberta offset credit market and some of the new opportunities that exist in this market place,” said Keith Anderson with the Carbon Merchants.
The carbon market will potentially open up a new revenue stream for farmers but there are questions about how it works and whether the initiative will have any real benefit for the average farmer.
“What we do is take protocols for quantification of their practices to turn into carbon offsets and then we turn those into workable or commercialized opportunities,” said Anderson.
There are a number of protocols that farmers can take advantage of and the Carbon Merchants continue to develop new protocols including three bovine protocols, an energy efficiency protocol and a dairy protocol.
“There is a challenge to these markets because in a typical market we are dealing with something you can hold in your hand. In these new markets what we are dealing with is their management practices, their operational practices and how those are quantified,” said Anderson.
“The records in fact, the information actually becomes the product and it is turned into an offset by a verification.”
In many cases it is large oil companies who want to purchase these offsets in large quantities.
The Carbon Merchants work to aggregate a number of farmers to ensure that the offsets are large enough to attract these companies.
“The market has been created by regulation for large final emitters (LFE), so large final emitters can use carbon offsets as one of their compliance options,” said Anderson. “The farm community can, from their practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, convert those to offsets through a verification and then what we do is aggregate those up and sell those to the LFEs, who are now under the new regulations of 2007 are required to meet their new licensing requirements.”