Burying the new jar of money

North Dakota State Roundup

Published November 1, 2008  | November 2008 issue

North Dakota is adding another crop to its list of harvests: carbon.

The North Dakota Farmers Union is already a sophisticated player in the market for so-called carbon credits, coordinating contracts for about 2,300 farmers nationwide and selling the credits on the Chicago Climate Exchange (see the July 2008 fedgazette). More than 40 percent are North Dakota farmers, who pulled in about $2.6 million this year, according to the organization.

Now state landowners are being offered another carbon venue: In August, Ducks Unlimited unveiled a new program spearheaded through the Department of Energy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to offer cash payments to those with land in the Prairie Pothole Region. The program will offer payment for a perpetual easement on the land, as well as a second, smaller payment for the carbon sequestration. Combined, the two would add up to about $36 per acre, according to local reports.

For some, the perpetual easement may be a roadblock; the Farmers Union and other sequestration programs often offer five- and six-year contracts.

Ronald A. Wirtz