Manure Manager

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Dairies profit from greenhouse gas market


April 4, 2008
By Manure Manager

Dairy farmers in two states made
history in November when they received their first payments for “carbon
credits,” representing greenhouse gas reductions from their farms.

    Dairy farmers in two states made history in November when they received their first payments for “carbon credits,” representing greenhouse gas reductions from their farms.

    Darryl Vander Haak, a dairy farmer in Lynden, WA, (see story on page 8) and Dennis Haubenschild, from Princeton, MN, were paid for capturing methane, a potent greenhouse gas from manure on their farms, using anaerobic digesters. Both farmers worked with Environmental Credit Corp (ECC), a leading supplier of environmental credits to global financial markets, to take advantage of this new income opportunity.

    “It’s one more revenue stream that helps us keep producing milk for our customers,” said Vander Haak. Combined, the two dairy farmers were credited with preventing the release of over 720 tons of methane to the atmosphere—equivalent to more than 13,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.  At current prices, the carbon credits produced by these two projects were worth more than $26,000. As these farm projects continue to operate, they will generate additional credits each year.

    ECC, a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), worked closely with the farmers to monitor and certify their methane emission reductions, formally registering them with the CCX in October. The CCX is said to be the world’s first (and North America’s only) voluntary, legally binding, rules-based, greenhouse gas emissions allowance trading system. ECC also located buyers for the carbon credits, selling a portion of them to TerraPass, a California company that purchases credits on behalf of customers who want to offset the greenhouse gas emissions from their cars.

    According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, management of livestock manure accounts for 6.6 percent of total US greenhouse gas emissions. Methane gas is released into the atmosphere by common manure handling practices. But with anaerobic digester technology—increasingly used on dairies to control odors, produce renewable power, and provide clean animal bedding and organic soil amendments—methane emissions can be greatly reduced.


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