Four Indiana dairies, connected by family history and geography, have jointly signed an historic agreement with Environmental Credit Corp. (ECC) to create more than one million carbon credits from greenhouse gas-reducing projects.Each credit is equivalent to one metric ton of carbon dioxide prevented from entering the atmosphere. The farms' greenhouse gas reductions are comparable to planting four million deciduous trees or offsetting the emissions of 20,000 cars. The Bos, Herrema, Hidden View, and Windy Ridge dairies located in Fair Oaks, Ind., house upwards of 17,000 cows and produce more than 100,000 gallons of milk each day. These modern dairies provide milk to southeast states for fluid consumption and locally for the production of high-quality cheese. With a commitment to excellence extending to sustainable waste management, each dairy has installed biogas digesters manufactured by GHD, Inc., Chilton, Wis. Tony Bos, Sr., explains, "Because of the technology we
use, we are processing the manure into something valuable. The biogas we produce is about 60% methane, very much like natural gas. We use it for heat and electricity. Now in addition to energy, we qualify for clean air credits." To get the most benefit from the potential credit markets, the farms chose to work with ECC, a member of the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), North America's only voluntary, legally binding rules-based greenhouse gas trading system. ECC works closely with the farms to develop project protocols, monitor and certify their methane emission reductions, and monetize and manage the resulting carbon credits. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, advancing global warming 21 times faster than carbon dioxide. Carbon credits are currently valued at around $4.00 per ton in the U.S., up from around $2.00 during 2005. With about eight million dairy cows in the U.S., potential revenues to the dairy industry from carbon credits could exceed tens of millions of dollars annually as the greenhouse gas market grows. Dozens of farmers have
already applied to enroll in ECC's carbon credit program, joining with other farms to take early advantage of this new source of revenue.