US organic farmers’ co-op introduces carbon payments for members

Organic Valley intends to be carbon neutral by 2050

Organic Valley, the largest co-operative of organic farmers in the US announced last week its first agreements and payments made to farmer members taking part in the Organic Valley’s Carbon Insetting Program (OVCIP).

Carbon insetting involves carbon reductions and removals within a producer’s supply chain, as opposed to carbon offsetting which pays for activities happening elsewhere.

The OVCIP awards participating farmers for reducing their emissions and for sequestering more carbon, through activities including tree planting, solar installation, organic composting, upgrading manure management systems, and providing animals with feed supplements which reduce methane emissions.

Organic Valley is offering a market price to participating farms, per ton of third-party verified carbon reduction or removal, as well as technical assistance to help farmers plan, design, fund and evaluate the carbon-reducing projects.

Funded by a $25m USDA Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant, OVCIP will support 1,200 new climate-smart practices on 500 member farms.

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The program currently covers 25 states on farms that produce organic dairy, and will expand to organic egg farms within the next two years.

“We promote a food production system that produces good food for people but maintains an environment that does not deplete natural resources,” said Organic Valley dairy farmer Chris Wilson from Wisconsin.

“The goal is constantly trying to find ways to sequester carbon and make healthy soil. Healthy soil supports healthy cows, healthy cows make delicious and nutritious milk — all this goes hand in hand.”

Organic valley co-operative, comprising 1,600 farmer members, intends to be carbon neutral by 2050.

Organic Valley CEO Jeff Frank said: “These are real funds for farmers taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. As a co-operative business, we are committed to these organic farmers with long-term agreements and relationships, and the farmers are committed to us with verified carbon reductions and, of course, organic milk. 

“We’re building this business to deliver for farmers who deserve to be rewarded for their efforts and customers who want real choices for climate-friendly dairy.”