The methodology you used in California is under review by the American Carbon Registry. Where does that review stand?

“We actually submitted that to two carbon registries: the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS) and the American Carbon Registry (ACR). Currently, they both have the methodology out for public comment.

“They undergo different review processes. The VCS is currently being reviewed by a validator they’ve approved. That process should be through at the end of the summer. Then, it will go to a second validator and should come through the VCS process by sometime in late fall, certainly by the end of the year.

“For the ACR, we anticipate a much quicker process. They’ve done an initial review and come back with comments for us. We’ve addressed those comments. Now, they’ve put it up for public comment … for, I think, 30 days. They’ll put it out for scientific peer review, which will be done over the summer. They anticipate completing the whole process towards the end of the summer.”

So rice farmers in California will be able to sell carbon credits in 2012?

“In theory, an actual carbon project would start at the end of harvest. In all likelihood, it seems, we’ll have a methodology published in time for farmers to begin registering with a carbon registry.”

Markets will largely determine it, but any numbers being thrown around in terms of what this is potentially worth to the farmers?

“We’ve done some economic analysis.

“The break-even price in our analysis – and this is subject to a lot of conditions – of reduced winter flood is around $3 per acre. If the methodology is … adopted as the protocol used in the compliance system – and, according to current predictions, carbon prices increase to around $20 – then, a rice farmer using that practice (barring registration fees) would stand to make between $10 and $15 per acre.

“The break-even prices for the other practices are a bit higher.

“The break-even price for the removal of straw is quite a bit higher. But that’s due to the cost of removing the straw. Currently, there are markets some landowners are accessing to sell the straw. That brings the (break-even) price down and makes it a more viable practice. Revenue from carbon credits could potentially make other straw markets more accessible to rice farmers.”

On standardizing/verifying carbon sequestration/emission reductions and allowing the carbon markets to grow…   

“For what’s currently out there in the voluntary market, we feel the VCS and ACR standards are the highest.

“However, our ‘gold standard’ goal is to get the California Air Resources Board to adopt one of these protocols. If they take on a rice protocol that means offsets from anywhere in the United States could be traded in a cap-and-trade compliance program.”