Carbon markets exist to set a value for carbon which can be reflected and accounted for in the pricing of goods and services. Embedding a carbon value within everyday products and services incentivizes the adoption of low-carbon technologies and practices which otherwise might not be economically viable.
Carbon offsets are one of a number of tools used to promote a carbon value. For farmers they help measure the impact of agricultural sustainability initiatives and make them money at the same time. To date, more than 36 million carbon credits worth over $400 million have been generated in Alberta, with around one quarter of these coming from the agricultural sector.
Farmers are facing increasing pressure to implement sustainable agricultural practices. The 10 biggest food companies in the world are promoting sustainable agriculture. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is seeking ways to feed nine billion people by 2050 with the resources we currently have. Nitrogen-efficiency and carbon-sequestration carbon credit programs are becoming increasingly widespread, and in conjunction with water-quality, habitat-conservation and nitrogen-management best practice initiatives are providing incentive for farmers to adopt practices aimed at avoiding emissions, increasing yields and applying nitrogen at optimal rates.