Ranchers in 15 Great Plains and Western states who want to earn extra money related to the first pool of carbon credits from American rangeland have until Friday, April 4, to get their signed contracts in the mail.

Dave Krog, CEO of AgraGate Climate Credits Corp., said the four-year contracts, signed and postmarked by the early April date, would be eligible for credits retroactive to 2007.

“With carbon credits recently trading at record highs of $5.50 a ton or more, this is a good time to enroll eligible rangeland in this program, especially with the opportunity to get payments for last year,” he noted. “While a cropland program has been in place for some time, this is the first rangeland program to be initiated.”

AgraGate collects credits from ranchers, farmers and private forest owners, combines them into sizable pools, and then sells them on the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX). Proceeds are returned to the carbon credits owners, less a 10 percent service fee, verification costs and CCX fees.

The CCX launched trading in December 2003 in a program allowing companies to purchase carbon credits to offset a portion of their greenhouse gas emissions. Research shows that sustainably managed rangeland is very good at taking atmospheric carbon and converting it to a sequestered, stable form in the soil.

Rangeland Carbon Details

The states currently eligible for the rangeland program include California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

According to Lowell Mesman, an aggregation specialist for AgraGate, the number of credits earned from rangeland varies from 0.12 to 0.52 tons per acre, depending primarily on soil types and precipitation.

To be eligible for the rangeland carbon credit program, Mesman said, the land must meet the CCX definition of rangeland, it must be in a CCX-approved area, and the project must include use of light or moderate stocking rates, sustainable livestock distribution, and an approved rangeland management plan.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office Technical Guides include guidelines for managing the controlled harvest of vegetation with grazing animals. Eligible rangeland must be managed “in a manner such that it restores desired vegetation to degraded lands, improves the overall health and vigor of good stands and increases the overall biological intensity of the land.” Stocking rates and livestock distribution criteria are defined according to county and state in the NRCS “Prescribed Grazing Specification” code.

A copy of the rangeland carbon credits contract can be downloaded from the AgraGate Web site at www.agragate.com. More information on the rangeland program is available from Mesman at 605-280-1319, by emailing him at lmesman@agragate.com, or by calling the company’s toll-free client service number: 866-633-6758.

AgraGate, a subsidiary of the Iowa Farm Bureau, is the leading aggregator of carbon credits from agriculture. On behalf of farmers, ranchers and private forest owners, the company has marketed carbon credits from more than 1.5 million acres in 24 states on the CCX.