At Ohio Corn & Wheat, we remain on top of current trends and opportunities to best position our growers and their operations across the state — and around the world. Right now, one topic amongst Ohio’s corn and small grain growers is carbon markets, from enrollment and earning payments to the technology and verification process needed to participate. 

The 2021 Farm Science Review posed a major opportunity for our team to connect with farmers and industry experts to discuss this emerging opportunity, answer questions and share our current knowledge. That’s why I joined Dr. Ian Sheldon, professor and Anderson’s chair of agriculture marketing, trade and policy at The Ohio State University, and fellow panelists to discuss carbon markets from all sides. 

Read on for more insights and find the full recording of this Q&A here

What Are the Origins of Carbon Markets?

There is a misperception in agriculture that carbon markets arose from the recent presidential election. The discussion first began prior to 2020. From a free market standpoint, carbon markets have been developing for years. We must reinforce they’ve been in queue for some time now, and will likely exist beyond this current administration. 

Why Are Carbon Markets Becoming Popular? 

The companies involved in coordinating carbon markets aren’t launching them to merely see what sticks. The spending practices of millennials and Generation Z show that they’re becoming the largest spending group in today’s economy — and their buying preferences are different. They have a greater interest in markets that provide a social good or service from our purchases, and we’re seeing the same pattern around carbon markets. 

Economically, How Do These Markets Work? 

Forestry credits helped to grow our understanding of the potential for these markets. However, agriculture credits are substantially different. From our conversations and research at Ohio Corn & Wheat, we’ve found that insets are harder to understand for growers, and we’re still learning more about these opportunities. Simply put, insets are company investments in projects that reduce emissions within the supply chain.

Companies are jumping at the chance to showcase to consumers how carbon insets relate to their products. For example, you may receive an email after a recent purchase noting the number of acres sequestering carbon, how your support is improving water quality and how each practice relates to the company’s products.

Beyond Reducing Carbon Emissions, What are the Benefits of Carbon Markets? 

At the beginning of 2021, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association spearheaded a strike team after discussing the natural overlap between water quality efforts and the opportunity to partner with the private and nonprofit sectors to fund these practices. This included folks from The Ohio State University, Ohio Farm Bureau, The Nature Conservancy and national partners National Association of Wheat Growers and the National Corn Growers Association. We worked collaboratively to determine how on-the-ground practices promote water quality in areas like the Western Lake Erie Basin. These conversations uncovered new benefits and practices that we can bring to everyone’s awareness.   

For our growers, we also look to data. There is a difference of opinion between the agricultural producers and the suppliers on how we track, manage and protect growers’ data for their operations. Carbon markets are pushing these critical conversations along, and we’ll see secondary benefits for our growers. From block chain technology and tracking one’s carbon footprint to increased trade agreements, there are immense opportunities for growers in this space. 

You may have similar questions about carbon markets and how they can benefit your farm. Let’s continue the conversation. Email our team at