"U.S. farmers and foresters could earn more money from carbon contracts than they pay in higher costs from legislation to control greenhouse gases, the Agriculture Department estimated on Wednesday.
In the near term, most of the money would go to people who plant trees to lock carbon in the soil or enroll woodlands as carbon sinks. Relatively small amounts would be generated by changes in tillage or crops.
USDA's 'preliminary analysis' was one of the first attempts at a broad-spectrum examination of the House-passed climate bill. Most of its 13 pages were devoted to grains, cotton and soybeans. Limited space went to livestock and none to fruits and vegetables.
Skeptics like the American Farm Bureau Federation say climate legislation will drive up sharply the cost of farm fuel, fertilizer and pesticides. A carbon offset market will not benefit all farmers or all parts of the country, it says."