In a nutshell, Green Payments are paid to farmers to compensate them for any environmental benefits that accrue as a result of their farming practices.
This program is already underway in other developed countries to provide habitat services, ecological services, and amenity services. For the farmers, it would provide supplemental income, especially for small to mid-sized farms.
Are there any controversies? Actually, there are quite a few. One is the debate between current conservation programs and the new programs Green Payments would put into effect. “Existing conservation and commodity programs have very little in common [with Green Payments] and attempting to meld them into a single program raises questions about to whom and under what conditions payments would be extended.” (Conservation and Commodity Programs)
There is also the debate of which environmental objectives the Green Payments should support. “For example, if income support objectives are combined with the objective of providing environmental services, there will be a different geography of payments than if the only objective were the provision of environmental services.” (Green Payments Policy)
Of course, the core of this debate is rooted in finances: who receives money? how much? and who is going to pay for it?
There is a large group of support championing the Green Payments program and how it will help reduce our nation’s carbon footprint while supporting our farmers. On the other end, there are other farmers such as cotton farmers who prefer the more traditional price support programs and don’t think Green Payments will benefit them. (Delta Farm Press)
If you’re interested in learning more about the complexities of Green Payments, there are many resources available to you. You can read an in-depth study of all sides of the debate at Drake Journal of Agricultural Law or, if person-to-person is more your thing, you can speak to someone at the USDA location in Houston.