US family forest scheme offers new ‘premium option’

5 Mar 2024

Quantum Commodity Intelligence – A US forestry initiative that generates carbon credits on family-owned forested land has added a new category that will allow landowners enrolled in the scheme to receive higher payments for their participation, while the scheme has also expanded into Ohio.

The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP), a partnership between conservation group American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy, now offers what it calls a “Premium Option” under which landowners will receive 20% more in financial payments during their enrollment in the programme.

"This is because the process is a bit more in depth and requires more effort for the landowner to follow the specific federal process. Essentially, we are paying them for their patience, given the additional steps required in order to receive their first payment compared to the standard offer," an FFCP spokesperson told Quantum.

FFCP provides annual payments to enrolled landowners to implement forest management practices that enhance carbon capture and storage, improve forest health and deliver other ecosystem benefits.

In addition to the move into Ohio, the scheme is operational across various counties in the states of New Hampshire, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland.

To qualify for the premium option landowners in the FFCP need to apply for a free Farm & Tract Number (FTN) from their local office of the Farm Service Agency (FSA) – which is part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

FFCP will advise on how an FTN can be obtained, it said.

“To complete the process, the landowner makes an appointment at their local FSA office, bringing their personal identification documents and proof of property ownership to that appointment,” FFCP said in a blog published Tuesday.

“To help with the process, FFCP staff will help provide all the necessary documentation, including a copy of the deed and a property map,” it said.

“After FFCP enrollment, an FFCP forester will also conduct a land assessment needed for the FSA approval process in order to receive a Farm & Tract Number,” it added.

The forester then helps develop a forest management plan that meets the landowner’s needs and property goals, with the first disbursal of the premium payment delivered once the USDA compliance approval process is complete, the blog said.

“Landowners seeking to enroll in FFCP who already [have] a Farm & Tract Number associated with their property simply include their FTN in their programme application and automatically receive the premium option,” it added.