Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced new details about the functions and objectives of USDA's Office of Environmental Markets (OEM). OEM, now part of USDA's Natural Resources and Environment mission area, will work to carry out USDA's climate and rural revitalization goals by supporting the development of emerging markets for carbon, water quality, wetlands and biodiversity.

"Environmental markets leverage private investments that result in cleaner air, improved water quality, restored wetlands, and enhanced wildlife habitat," says Vilsack. "These markets have the potential to become a new economic driver for rural America, exactly what we need to support a bold, creative future for America's farmers, ranchers and rural communities."

The 2008 Farm Bill's Conservation Title directs the Secretary to facilitate the development of environmental markets and ensure the participation of America's farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners. As set forth by Congress in the Farm Bill, OEM will work across government and in consultation with experts and stakeholders to build a market-based system for quantifying, registering, and verifying environmental benefits produced by land management activities.

"Over the past several years, USDA has seen great advances in ecosystem services research and market potential," says Harris Sherman, Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. "We will build on this innovation and coordinate across USDA and with our partners to develop these promising new markets."

Source: USDA