Assemblymember Didi Barrett (D - Columbia, Dutchess) announced the passage of landmark legislation to create a two year soil health project promoting environmentally friendly practices known as carbon farming. The bill creates a pilot project in Columbia and Dutchess counties to be administered by the local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The legislation is a milestone in carbon farming nationally and will result in important data about the potential for a range of farming practices to sequester carbon in the soil and will help farmers improve soil resiliency and productivity on their farms.
“Enactment of this bill will mark the start of the first carbon farming program in New York. I am thrilled that it will begin in my Hudson Valley district where I first learned about the great benefits to both soil productivity and the environment from these climate smart practices,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “I am hopeful that this pilot will lead to a statewide program to support farmers across the state while also helping New York reach its climate change goals.”
“Agriculture is a cornerstone of the Hudson Valley’s 21st century economy; we have the opportunity to capture greenhouse gases and prevent them from entering the atmosphere while at the same time providing technical information to farmers to help make their soils more fertile and productive," said Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson. "We commend Assemblywoman Didi Barrett’s visionary initiative, and applaud both her and Senator Sue Serino for their excellent work as advocates for the Hudson Valley’s agriculture. Passage of this bill is a meaningful next step toward establishing the nation’s first carbon farming tax credit.”
The pilot project would begin with baseline soil testing for carbon content and would be repeated every six months during the study, resulting with the development of best practice recommendations for maximizing the carbon sequestration. Climate smart farming practices improve soil health while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As a land stewardship practice, carbon farming improves soil health and productivity by holding nutrients in place; as a climate-smart initiative it mitigates carbon's release into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide contributes to climate change as a greenhouse gas by trapping heat in the atmosphere. By using no-till systems, planting cover crops, trees and perennial forages, and by managing compost application, farmers can see improvements in water retention, nutrient storage, and reduced erosion.
The carbon farming pilot project outlined for Columbia and Dutchess counties would give the soil and water conservation districts a formal opportunity to understand the specific benefits of various climate smart farming practices and ultimately improve the productivity of our state's robust agricultural business.