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U.S. Farm Co-Op CHS to Pay Members to Enroll in Bayer Carbon Farming Program

FILE PHOTO: A bridge is decorated with the logo of a Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal, Germany August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

(Reuters) – Agricultural seeds and chemicals supplier Bayer AG is expanding its carbon farming program to members of U.S. farm cooperative CHS Inc, boosting incentives for members to participate in the program, the companies said on Wednesday.

The agreement will make it easier for CHS’s 75,000 farmer-members to enroll in Bayer’s Carbon Program, an early leader in the drive to encourage farmers to capture carbon by planting off-season crops, tilling the ground less and use fertilizer more efficiently.

It also expands the program from 17 states to 21, the companies said.

The Bayer Carbon Program pays growers up to $9 an acre for planting cover crops and reducing soil tillage. Farmers in the program log their practices on digital platforms to generate a carbon credit.

Agricultural companies use the credits to offset the climate impact of other parts of their businesses or sell them to companies looking to reduce their own carbon footprints.

It is the latest collaboration between large agricultural firms racing to sign up acres for carbon sequestration, or trapping atmosphere warming carbon underground, and environmental credit trading programs.

Some farmers have embraced the carbon programs as a welcome new stream of revenue and a potentially powerful tool to combat climate change. Others have voiced suspicion that companies will collect farming data that will be used to sell them more products.

CHS will pay its members an additional $3 an acre for enrolling in Bayer’s program and purchasing certain products such as “enhanced-efficiency fertilizers.” Payments will be distributed in the fourth quarter of 2022, CHS said.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

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