Environmental markets are innovative policy approaches to leverage funding for environmental conservation on private lands. Environmental markets can serve as a complement to traditional conservation programs. Current active and pilot markets exist for greenhouse gases, water quality, water quantity, wetlands, and habitats.
The Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (often referred to as the 2008 Farm Bill) directed USDA to facilitate the participation of American farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners in environmental markets.
The Office of Environmental Markets (OEM), operates within the Office of Energy and Environmental Policy (OEEP) to support the development of these emerging markets, working closely with several USDA agencies, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Forest Service, and Economic Research Service.