Manitoba farmers are being warned that the provincial government will seize carbon credits resulting from conservation practices conducted under environmental farm plans.
An agronomists’ group called Farmers Edge Precision Consulting is encouraging producers to ask serious questions about carbon credits before signing on to the new Environmental Farm Action Program (EFAP).
Farmers Edge says the fine print allows the government to claim some of the carbon credits which result from on-farm beneficial management practices (BMPs) covered by the newly announced program.
The credits claimed are proportionate to the amount by which the province funds the BMPs.
The grab may not seem like a big deal because right now there is no market for carbon credits in Manitoba.
But there will be someday and producers should be careful before giving up their rights to them, according to Farmers Edge, a private group of
“If we pay for the incentives and the BMP to be practised, why wouldn’t we keep our portion of the credit?”
– loni scott, mafri
professional crop consultants in Western Canada.
The group urges farmers to get more information about carbon credits from BMPs before committing to their EFAPs.
“Without more details on what the province’s intentions are on carbon credits, it’s hard to say if it’s a good business decision for producers or not,” said Brunel Sabourin, the organization’s special projects manager in Winnipeg.
Farmers Edge wants to know how long the province will claim the credits, how farmers will get paid for the credits they still hold, can they participate in carbon markets after EFAP ends, and do they still qualify for EFAP if they have already sold their credits to someone else.
“Our recommendation right now is to be in contact with Manitoba Agriculture and to try and get some answers to these questions so they can make a better business decision,” Sabourin said.
Unfortunately, it’s a bit late because the deadline for early applications was September 15.
Ian Wishart, Keystone Agricultural Producers president, said his organization has no problem with the government claiming carbon credits from BMPs if the practices are adequately funded.
Wishart suggested the province may use these carbon credits as offsets to help meet its 2012 greenhouse gas reduction goal under the Kyoto agreement.
Loni Scott, Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives agri-environment director, said there’s nothing wrong with the province taking a percentage of carbon credits from BMPs.
“It seems to me that if we pay for the incentives and the BMP to be practised, why wouldn’t we keep our portion of the credit?”
Scott said the province will claim carbon credits only to the end of 2012. Farmers are free to do whatever they want with the credits they still hold.
And if they have already sold their credits, that means they don’t need funds for existing BMPs. EFAP funds only new BMPs, she said. [email protected]