Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers
Release Date: October 2010
Leading organization: American Farmland Trust
Length: 72 pages
Geographic focus: Washington State
This paper details the opportunities for farmers and ranchers in Washington to participate in environmental markets. Some environmental market activities could reduce the total amount of income generated from agricultural activities, and the paper talks about payment systems to offset those losses. The development of the guide was influenced by an advisory committee of agricultural leaders, interviews with several farmers and ranchers, three intensive focus group discussions, and a regional Workshop and Listening Session with key leaders in Washington and Oregon agriculture. The resulting paper includes background information on environmental markets, including explanations and status updates of five types of environmental markets in Washington: greenhouse gas markets; wetland, habitat and biodiversity markets; water quality markets; water quantity markets; and renewable energy markets. The paper also advises farmers and ranchers on the opportunities and risks involved with entering environmental markets, offering guidance for evaluating financial returns and developing a market strategy. Current issues facing agricultural participation in environmental markets are recognized and countered with suggested actions that farmers and ranchers can take to encourage and influence the development of the five market types described above. Other needs identified for continued market development and opportunity include: establishing reasonable baselines, identifying possibilities for new markets, and educating government and the community.