Carbon task force looks for ways to make money for farmers

By: - August 20, 2021 4:10 pm

Iowa’s use of cover crops such as barley has lagged, an environmental group reports. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service)

Agricultural interests that dominate Gov. Kim Reynolds’ new carbon-sequestration task force made it clear Friday they want to make money for farmers while addressing one of the biggest environmental threats worldwide.

At an inaugural meeting held at the State Fairgrounds, task force members spoke of carbon trading, cover crops, and other ways they can help reduce carbon emissions that are at the center of climate change.

A United Nations panel considered the lead voice on climate change developments recently reported that global warming is much worse than originally projected, calling for quick action to avert even worse climate-related disasters. 

Carbon sequestration refers to using plantings, and sometimes mechanical injection, to store carbon underground. Carbon dioxide is one of the key gases tied to climate change.

Reynolds gave the group 100 days to come up with recommendations to be submitted to state lawmakers, and others.

“We all know that carbon sequestration is not a new idea,” Reynolds told the panel. “But it really is one I think that offers a lot of exciting opportunities to help make our ag sectors more profitable and to continue building on that.” 

Iowa Agriculture Secretary Mike Naig said the members will want to consider how carbon-trapping conservation measures can be worked into the next Farm Bill. He welcomed one of the lead consultants to the panel, former Iowa Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey, who also served as an undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Donald Trump.

“We’re not going to solve everything in the next 100 days, but how do we lay the groundwork?” Naig asked.

Current U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, also has spoken recently about the need to address carbon sequestration in ways that help Iowa farmers financially. 

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Perry Beeman
Perry Beeman

Perry Beeman has nearly 40 years of experience in Iowa journalism and has won national awards for environmental and business writing. He has written for The Des Moines Register and the Business Record, where he also served as managing editor. He also is former editorial director of Grinnell College. He co-authored the recently published book, "The $80 Billion Gamble," which details the lottery-rigging case of Eddie Tipton.