Reducing Our Carbon Footprint Through Farmer-driven Sustainability

Carbon offset purchases continue to be an accepted best practice to address those emissions that remain after a company has taken other steps to reduce its carbon footprint. In 2022, CoBank partnered with Truterra, the leading farmer-driven sustainability program in the U.S., to purchase carbon offsets created through soil-based regenerative agriculture management practices within the Truterra network. As a result, CoBank was able to offset our Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2570 MT CO2e, which represents carbon permanently removed from the atmosphere.

Truterra was launched in 2016 by Land O’Lakes, Inc. — a CoBank customer and member-owned cooperative that spans the spectrum from agricultural production to consumer foods — to help farmers protect and improve their soil health while also creating new on-farm revenue opportunities in ecosystem services markets, such as carbon offsets.

Truterra’s carbon offset program is based on carbon sequestration in agriculture, which involves storage of carbon in biomass, such as the roots of cover crops or commercial crops in a no-till system. These regenerative practices not only remove carbon from the atmosphere but improve soil health as well. For CoBank, purchasing the carbon offsets allows us to both reduce our carbon footprint and directly contribute to greater productivity and resilience within the food, fuel, feed and fiber system. Selling carbon offsets created through regenerative practices not only benefits farmers financially, but also provides them with increased soil health and co-benefits ranging from enhanced water and nutrient cycling capabilities to improved air and water quality outcomes. Supporting the transition to these more regenerative agriculture management practices thus becomes an investment in the future of healthy soil, healthy farm balance sheets and vibrant rural communities.

CoBank’s complete carbon footprint also includes Scope 3 emissions, which are indirect emissions resulting from our operations, from sources that we don’t own or control. CoBank will continue to evaluate these indirect emissions and consider them as we continue on our sustainability journey.

Many of our customers are also seeking to reduce their own environmental impacts and looking to CoBank for support in financing that transition. We are evaluating how sustainability-linked loans can help our customers achieve their goals. In close collaboration with business partners across CoBank, we conducted a readiness assessment that will help us understand the needs of our customers and define key product features and benefits required to meet those needs.

This story was originally published in the CoBank 2022 Sustainability Report.