Miami Democratic state Rep. Dotie Joseph is sponsoring a bill that would provide tax credits to farmers who practice “carbon farming.”
That process aims to not only to cut carbon emissions but also to keep carbon stored inside a farm’s soil.
The Joseph bill (HB 1069) will serve as the companion to legislation filed by Democratic Sen. José Javier Rodríguez in the Senate.
Carbon farming is still somewhat new, and the benefits have not yet been proven. But advocates argue that farmers can engage in practices that will release less carbon into the atmosphere, instead of keeping it stored in the soil, which could help slow the process of climate change.
The measures from Joseph and Rodríguez would endorse those goals.
“The Legislature finds that soil and vegetation management can significantly enhance soil and carbon sequestration, resulting in a wide range of environmental and agricultural benefits to this state’s farmers and residents, including increased yields, soil health, improved water quality, and reductions in greenhouse gasses,” the measures read.
“It is the intent of the Legislature to encourage farmers to further sequester and mitigate carbon in this state by establishing a carbon farming tax credit to reward and incentivize farmers to maintain or adopt practices that help maximize this state’s carbon sequestration potential.”
The legislation would allow the Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to determine the final amount of the tax credit, in consultation with the state’s Agriculture Commissioner.
Any credits which exceed a taxpayer’s tax money owed for a given year may be carried over “for a period not to exceed 3 years.”
The DEP is also tasked with adopting rules to administer the program, “including, but not limited to, rules prescribing forms and application procedures, and may establish guidelines for making an affirmative showing of qualification for a credit and any evidence needed to substantiate a claim for credit under this section.”
The Senate version of the legislation has already been assigned to the Agriculture, Finance and Tax, and Appropriations committees.
If successful, the measure would take effect on July 1, 2020.