In 2008, Maurice Lemay, a farmer from Tangent, Alta., sold the carbon offset credits created on his farm under the Alberta Tillage System Management Protocol. Since he has practiced zero tillage for years, he was able to retroactively claim for carbon credits back to Alberta’s 2002 baseline, resulting in significant income to the farm operation.
Lemay became interested in selling carbon credits simply because they were “something that became available to farmers practicing reduced tillage,” he says. “Because of the uncertainty of the longevity of the ability to sell carbon credits, I checked with a number of aggregators and sold my credits to the company that had the best offer at the time.”
Theo Thirsk of Kelsey, Alta., is also a long time zero tiller, but has not yet sold his carbon credits. “When carbon credit meetings were first held a few years ago, the speakers were telling us carbon credits would be worth $40 to $50.” Given the Alberta regulated market price is only $10 to $13 and since there is no deadline for selling credits already created, Thirsk will wait in hope prices will rise before he sells his credits.
Curtis Jans, a farmer from New Norway, Alta., is eager to sell the credits he has earned through reduced tillage, but some of those credits have been created on rented land. He has been unable to come to an agreement with the landlords on the division of the returns from carbon credits. Instead of forcing the issue, Jans considers carbon credits to be like money in the bank and is prepared to let the credits grow until there is more direction from farm advisors as to who should receive payment for the credits.