State of Iowa Forms Carbon Sequestration Task Force

Jun 25, 2021  | 3 min  | Ep4645

Congress went shopping for new roads and bridges as part of a bipartisan agreement on infrastructure over a five-year, $973 billion bill in new spending.

The Senate, meanwhile, created a third-party carbon certification program at USDA.

The issue of carbon could offer farmers a new avenue for revenue.

Josh Buettner reports.

This week, Iowa rode the bleeding edge of monetizing climate value through regenerative and sustainable farming practices by forming a carbon sequestration task force.

Republican Governor Kim Reynolds will chair the group, created by executive order, who will review research, bird-dog economic opportunities, and determine the state’s role aligning with Biden Administration priorities on climate change.

Monte Shaw/Executive Director – Iowa Renewable Fuels Association:  “I guess it doesn’t really matter what you, or I, or your viewers think about it.  Our customers are telling us to lower the carbon footprint.  So if you do that, you get more money.  That’s how you get a premium in those types of markets.”

Iowa Renewable Fuels Association Executive Director Monte Shaw lauded Reynolds’s move to get ahead of the curve, but adds regardless of politics, business shifts on climate are driven by consumer dollars.

Etienne White/Vice-President Brands for Good/Sustainable Brands:  “MasterCard, for example, have a carbon calculator.  When you get your credit card statement at the end of the month, it can tell you, based on your spending, what your carbon footprint has been.”

In recent months, several farm space virtual events, like one this week hosted by Indigo Ag, have highlighted the demand for domestic carbon credits generated through farming.

Paul Hawken/Author, Journalist, Business Strategist:  “There is truly a market there for these types of carbon credits.”

Proponents say conservation efforts like cover crops and reduced tillage improve soil, lower input costs, increase profits, and offset pollution from industrial sources looking to mitigate their own carbon emissions.

Jodi Manning/Director of Marketing and Partnerships – Cool Effect:  “Not only do we need to neutralize and de-carbonize, we need to start drawing down more and carbon removal will do that.  Soil is a carbon removal.”

Near week’s end, a bi-partisan bill passed the Senate to break down technical barriers for farm and forester entry into carbon credit markets.

Citing a recent lab study, which found typical biofuel plants have lowered their carbon footprint by nearly 25 percent over the past 15 years, Shaw says Iowa now has a unique opportunity.

Monte Shaw/Executive Director – Iowa Renewable Fuels Association:  “Think about corn ethanol.  That corn plant sucks carbon dioxide down from the atmosphere when it grows.  Right now, when we ferment that corn down to ethanol, it releases that carbon dioxide, and it’s just kind of an annual cycle.  It just goes back and forth.  But if we capture that carbon dioxide, and then do the sequestration that this task force is looking at, we actually could become carbon negative.”

For Market to Market, I’m Josh Buettner.  Twitter: @mtmjosh

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