Carbon Market Barriers Are the Topic of Farm Foundation Forum

Panel discussion to feature ISU Extension and Outreach experts

April 5, 2022, 3:25 pm | Alejandro Plastina

AMES, Iowa – Interest in agricultural carbon markets and carbon credit trading has everyone from producers to policymakers asking questions about what lies ahead.

To help answer some of those questions and the remaining challenges, two specialists with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach will speak during a Farm Foundation webinar April 12, called “Solving the Barriers to Agricultural Carbon Markets.”

Cover crops.The discussion will cover what still needs to be done to advance carbon markets in the United States, as well as an objective look at carbon markets from an economic and legal perspective.

Topics will include the current pitfalls of carbon markets, opportunities available for farmers and the current direction of both the science and market trends.

The speakers from Iowa State are Alejandro Plastina, associate professor in economics and extension economist, and Kristine Tidgren, director of the Center for Agricultural Law and Taxation and holder of the Leonard Dolezal Professorship in Agricultural Law.

They will be joined by Shelby Myers, economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation, and Garth Boyd, moderator and partner at The Context Network. Boyd is also part of the Carbon Sequestration Task Force organized by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds in 2021.

“Agricultural carbon credits can offer some exciting opportunities for farmers and the industry, but there are certain things that need to be done to remove the barriers to the development of these markets,” said Plastina. “Those barriers include defining what a credit actually is, how carbon credit monitoring, reporting and verification might be enforced.”

Plastina is also co-author of a recent article in Applied Economics Perspectives and Policy, called “Challenges to Voluntary Ag Carbon Markets.”

In this article, he examines the actions that are still necessary to accurately measure and assess carbon credits, create demand and secure supply from the agricultural industry.

“The goal of the article is to highlight the barriers to the formation of agricultural carbon markets in the U.S., both from the demand and supply side,” he said. “There are some major challenges, starting with the corporate pledges to become carbon neutral and creation of a market that the industry can respond to.”

The article concludes with four possible scenarios for how ag carbon credits may play out, ranging from a highly valuable cash crop, to the possibility that markets could be unsustainable if corporate demand for credits is too low.

The Farm Foundation Forum will be held via Zoom webinar April 12 at 9 a.m. The forum is free and open to the public. Farmers, ranchers, government officials and staff, industry representatives, food and agribusiness leaders, NGO representatives, academics, researchers, students in agricultural disciplines and members of the media are encouraged to attend.

Register online at

For additional carbon resources at Iowa State, visit the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development online.

More information is also available in Carbon Science for Carbon Markets: Emerging Opportunities in Iowa. This 281-page report was published to the Iowa State Extension Store in January, 2022.

Shareable photo: Cover crops.

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