New Analysis Reveals Big Opportunities for Florida Farmers and Foresters

April 30, 2008


Jerry Karnas, Environmental Defense Fund, 941-587-1803 
Dr. Stephen Mulkey, University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment, 352-871-8543
Lisa Garcia, Ron Sachs Communications, 850-222-1996
(Washington DC- April 30, 2008) Florida’s farmers and foresters stand to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue under proposed climate change legislation now pending in the U.S. Congress, according to a first-of-its-kind analysis from the University of Florida.
The analysis released today, “Opportunities for Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Forestry and Agriculture in Florida,” found that agriculture producers can earn more than $340 million – every year – by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and selling emission credits under a federal cap and trade program like the one created by S. 2191, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.
Biofuels, biomass, energy crops, and managed forestry are just some of the many sectors of Florida’s agriculture and forest industry that could stand to benefit from a carbon market, according to the analysis, which was commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund.
“This is a huge incentive for Florida’s agricultural sector – and another reason why Congress needs to take action now to address climate change and bolster Florida’s economy,” said Jerry Karnas, Florida climate project director at Environmental Defense Fund.
The U.S. Senate is poised to vote on the Climate Security Act in early June. The bill would put a mandatory cap on emissions, and allow companies that emit greenhouse gases to meet the cap in part by purchasing credits from farmers and foresters that make emissions reductions.
“Our report demonstrates that we can combine the ethical imperative of responding to climate change with power of the market, while protecting Florida’s natural resources,” said Dr. Stephen Mulkey, lead author of the report from the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment. “There are a number of ways to reap the benefits of and this is very positive news for Florida’s economy.”
A few of the report’s findings include:
  • 7.36 million tons carbon dioxide emission reductions from increased use of wood, energy crops, crop residues and ethanol as biofuels, for an offset value of $147 million per year;
  • Of the biofuels counted above, 3.23 million metric tons would come from crop and logging residue not currently utilized. If landowners can receive $10 per dry ton of biomass (with most of the delivered price paying for collection and transport) landowners would receive $49 million per year in new revenues;
  • $19.2 million in reducing current methane emissions from manure and reducing emissions by replacing natural gas with biogas from manure.
“We are always looking for new ways to help keep Florida’s agricultural producers profitable,” said John Hoblick, president of Florida Farm Bureau Federation. “Giving them access to a voluntary market that will compensate them for their environmentally friendly practices is clearly a good thing and is something we are proud to be promoting.”
Other estimates from the Research Triangle Institute and MIT find that the market for agricultural offsets could range between $243 and $624 billion by 2050.
“The report verifies what we have been saying all along – woody biomass can play an important role in supplying renewable energy,” Jeff Doran, Executive Vice President of the Florida Forestry Association. “It also supports our position that forests are not the sole solution to the state’s renewable energy needs and that a comprehensive solution including solar, wind and nuclear, will work best for Florida.”