Ag Companies Push Carbon-Capture Farming; Growers Skeptical

The Wall Street Journal reports that ag companies are investing millions of dollars to develop farming programs designed to capture more carbon dioxide in fields, as a possible solution to mitigate climate change.

The challenge: convincing farmers that it is worth their time, the costs of new farming practices and potentially losing out on some of their harvest in the process. 

Iowa corn farmer Chris Edgington said he has looked at various carbon programs over the past year, calculating the risk of reduced crops as he adjusts the way he manages his crops and the potential compensation for the carbon his fields could capture. So far, he said, he hasn’t signed up.

“At the current economics, it will be a real challenge to grow,” said Mr. Edgington, chairman and a former president of the National Corn Growers Association. 

Less than 5% of the more than 1,300 U.S. farmers surveyed by McKinsey in 2022 said they participated in a carbon program, and more than 50% of farmers said an unclear return on investment was one of their top reasons for not participating. The number of farmers signing contracts to participate in a company’s carbon market was flat at about 1% from January 2021 to August 2022, according to surveys of hundreds of farmers conducted by agronomists at Purdue University.