CHICAGO (Reuters) – Bayer AG launched a pilot program in the United States and Brazil on Tuesday that will pay farmers to capture carbon on farmland, making it the latest farming company to work to take advantage of environmental initiatives.
PHOTO FILE: A bridge decorated with the Bayer AG logo, German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal, Germany August 9, 2019. REUTERS / Wolfgang Rattay / Photo File
The company is trying to register around 1,200 row crop growers in the Bayer Carbon Initiative in the first season, with the aim to improve in the coming season and eventually expand to other countries, company executives said.
This program is the latest in a series of environmental-focused initiatives recently by agricultural companies, which have been criticized for using hazardous chemicals and not doing enough to stop deforestation in Brazil.
Bayer is working with other partners including Embrapa Brasil, a government plant research agency, to build a market for the trade in carbon credits created, executives said.
Global commodity trader Cargill Inc. [CARG.UL] started the project this spring by targeting greenhouse gas emissions and fertilizer runoff in Iowa, while the agricultural cooperative Land O’Lakes Inc. [LNDLK.UL] last week announced a multi-year partnership with Microsoft Corp to address the goals of sustainability and technology in the food system.
The announcement was issued after the US Treasury Department in May clarified a federal tax credit designed to spur investment in carbon capture and sequestration projects.
The Bayer program requires farmers to register on the Climate FieldView digital agriculture platform, where farmers will record data on their environmentally friendly agricultural practices such as non-cropping or cover crop farming. The claim can then be verified by satellite imagery.
Bayer will compensate farmers for absorbing carbon and paying them in cash or credit to buy products on the Bayer PLUS award platform.
“If farmers absorb carbon for the benefit of the people and the planet, they must be rewarded for it,” Brett Begemann, chief operating officer of the Science Crop division, told Reuters.
He refused to reveal the cost of the program, and said the value of sequestered carbon would be determined by the market.
“In the end, we must have a clear line of sight that this must contribute to the bottom line of Bayer and benefit our shareholders as well.”
Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Sandra Maler
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