The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced a $7.5 million (€6.4 million) investment in the American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE)-led Regional Conservation Partnership Programme (RCPP) project to secure farmers access to low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) markets.
ACE, South Dakota Corn Growers Association, Dakota Ethanol, South Dakota State University, Cultivating Conservation, and collaborator Sandia National Labs, will use the USDA financial assistance to compensate farmers for adopting climate-smart practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improve soil health.
“We share the Biden administration’s goal of reaching net-zero GHG emissions by 2050,” said Brian Jennings, ACE CEO. “Ethanol can reach net-negative carbon intensity by crediting biofuel crops grown with climate-smart farming practices in clean fuel markets via carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) and continued carbon reduction improvements at individual ethanol facilities.”
“USDA’s investment in our project to validate the benefits of climate-smart practices in further reducing corn ethanol’s carbon footprint is a vote of confidence in the role farmers can play in reaching net-zero emissions by 2050,” Jennings added. “Further, this project will provide a prototype for how clean fuel policies can reward farmers for climate-smart practices that reduce the overall carbon intensity of corn ethanol."
According to Michigan State University’s GHG calculator that uses USDA data to compare GHG reductions from different cropping systems, changes to be incentivised in the new RCPP from conventional tillage to no-till would sequester an additional 91,000 metric tons of GHG emissions per year in the project area.
This is comparable to removing 20,000 cars from the road. If these reductions were credited in existing mandatory clean fuel markets, such as the California LCFS, farmers could generate over $10 million (€8.6 million) a year in new revenue.
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