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Best of NAMA 2020

by Alejandro Plastina, Iowa State extension economist

A carbon credit is a tradable asset (similar to a certificate or permit) that represents the right to release or emit carbon into the atmosphere. Typically, each credit represents one metric ton (2,204 pounds) of carbon dioxide or an equivalent amount of another greenhouse gas. Carbon credits are created when entities (compared to a set baseline) reduce their carbon emissions or sequester carbon.

A growing number of private initiatives are offering farmers compensation for the generation of agriculture carbon credits as well as other ecosystem services, such as improvements in water quality. Agricultural producers can create carbon credits in a variety of ways: moving from conventional tillage to reduced or no tillage, reducing stocking rates on pastures, planting cover crops or trees, reducing fertilizer rates, or converting marginal cropland to grassland. The result of this is an emerging agriculture carbon credits market that is a mixture of coexisting programs, each with different rules, incentives, and players.

The recently released, Ag Decision Maker File A1-76, How to Grow and Sell Carbon in US Agriculture begins to navigate this market by comparing 11 voluntary carbon programs across two-dozen characteristics, providing valuable details to help farmers distinguish between the programs and find where they could benefit.

To read the entire report click here.

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