American Farmland Trust Helps Farmers In Ohio River Basin Participate In First Interstate Water Quality Credit Trades To Fund Conservation Practices

CINCINNATI, March 25, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — American Farmland Trust (AFT) has
partnered with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and other
collaborators in a pilot program to help farmers in the Ohio River Basin
participate in the first-ever interstate water quality credit trading program to
fund on-farm installation of conservation practices.

“EPRI is building a robust pilot trading program that will allow public and
private industries to test a potential regulatory compliance option to improve
water quality,” said Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of AFT. “It will also
provide farmers much-needed funding for the installation of best management
practices to improve the soil, reduce the cost of farming and protect water
quality.”

Water quality trading is a market-based approach which allows facilities to meet
required pollution reductions by paying farmers for the installation of
conservation practices like heavy use protection areas for livestock, conversion
of cropland to hayland and pastureland and the use of cover crops that reduce
pollution by specific amounts. Those pollution reductions are then converted to
verified credits that can be bought and sold.

“The agreement signed between the states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio to use a
common definition for credits is an historic step for trading programs,” said
McElwaine. “The involvement of the federal and state agencies also ensures the
credit program meets federal standards so the credits can count toward pollution
reductions required by the federal Clean Water Act.”

Under the EPRI program, AFT engaged farmers from the beginning to develop the
program, identified and worked with county conservation districts to understand
the needs of farmers and provided technical support in determining how much each
conservation practice will reduce pollution loads.

“AFT provided hands-on help to farmers, state agricultural and resource agencies
and soil and water conservation districts during both the application phase of
the project and in the verification and monitoring phase to make sure the
benefits were there for both farmers and the environment,” said Brian Brandt,
the project’s agricultural coordinator. “We also brought our experience with
trading programs in other regions of the country to help the project.”

Examples of the types of conservation practices installed under the program
include–

Indiana:
— 74 acres of no-till corn/soybean with some beef cattle near a creek has
converted 7 acres of wheat to hay/pastureland.
— 80 acres of pasture and cropland near a creek with 31 cows is installing a
large heavy use protection area with written permission from the landowner to
maintain the practice if he stops renting the land.
— 82 acre beef cattle, pasture and hayland operation near two creeks is
installing four separate heavy use protection areas on a ridge that drains in
two different directions.
— Corn, soybean, livestock operation adjacent to the Ohio River is putting in
105 acres of cover crops.
— Corn, soybean and beef cattle operation that has land in both Indiana and
Ohio is putting in 80 acres of cover crops.

Ohio:
— Two livestock operations near creeks are installing feedlot runoff controls
and manure storage facilities.
— Two dairies near creeks are installing milkhouse waste systems.

Kentucky:
— Livestock operations near creeks are proposing to install a heavy use
protection areas.

“We view this program as a four way win – for the watershed, for rate-paying
utility customers, for farmers and for wastewater treatment facilities,” said
McElwaine. “We want to thank EPRI, the participating utilities and other project
collaborators for helping to make the first-of-its-kind program available to
farmers. We also would like to thank USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation
Service and the Mosaic Company Foundation for supporting our work.”

“We are proud to support the development of this first-of-its-kind interstate
water quality trading market,” said Rick McLellan, Mosaic Company Foundation
board member. “Mosaic is driven by our mission to help the world grow the food
it needs, and we understand the need to increase yields sustainably. By
collaborating with EPRI and AFT, we hope to build on our innovations in
protecting critical water resources through conservation agriculture and
nutrient stewardship.”

In this first round of trading 16 farmers participated in the program in
Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, with approximately 20 additional farmers expected in
2014.

The projects approved so far in Indiana and Ohio will result in reducing
nitrogen pollution by an estimated 37,000 pounds and phosphorus by 12,500
pounds. When the second round of projects are completed in all three states, the
total estimated reductions in nitrogen are estimated to be 66,000 pounds and
33,000 pounds of phosphorus.

EPRI has set aside $300,000 for projects in the pilot program and will cover up
to 75 percent of the installation of these best management practices.

At full-scale, the EPRI project could include up to eight states in the Ohio
River Basin and potentially create credit markets for 46 power plants, thousands
of wastewater facilities and other industries, and approximately 230,000
farmers.

“The stewardship credit trades made today can be used toward corporate
sustainability goals and flexible compliance schedules in the future if stricter
permits are issued,” explained Brandt. “They are not approved to be used for
compliance with current water quality permit limits.

“The pilot trades provide experience with trading so participants can become
comfortable with the process and will continue under the program through 2014
and 2015 to test critical programmatic features such as an online credit
registry and live trading auction,” added Brandt.

For more information on the EPRI Ohio River Basin Trading Project, visit:
http://wqt.epri.com. For more a background on trading, visit AFT’s Water Quality
Trading Markets webpage at:
http://www.farmland.org/programs/environment/water-quality/water-quality-trading/What-is-Water-Quality-Trading.asp.

The American Farmland Trust is the nation’s leading conservation organization
dedicated to protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping
farmers on the land.

AFT will host the Farmland, Food and Livable Communities national conference in
Lexington, Kentucky on October 20-22. Visit www.farmland.org for more
information.

For more information on the policies and programs of the American Farmland
Trust, visit www.farmland.org, follow us on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/AmericanFarmland or Twitter www.twitter.com/farmland.

CONTACT:
Andrew McElwaine, President & CEO, American Farmland Trust
Phone: 202-378-1212
or
Brian Brandt, Director, Agriculture Conservation Innovations, American Farmland
Trust
Phone: 614 906-4931

SOURCE American Farmland Trust

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