April 2022 ESMC Newsletter
ESMC Market Launch May 17: Project Eligibility
For those new to ESMC or looking to better understand our market program that is launching on May 17, updated eligibility information – which includes specific regions and cropping systems – is available on our website. As a reminder, there are no minimum or maximum acreage limits to participate in our program, producers are not required to enroll all their acreage either at enrollment or at any time and can phase in more acres and/or practices over time as they see fit. Keep tracking our progress through our newsletter, social media and website as we prepare for program launch next month.
Announcing a New ESMC/ESMRC Member
ESMC is pleased to announce a new Legacy Partner member joining our public-private partnership – EarthOptics. Welcome! EarthOptics is building a global soil cloud for more sustainable agricultural management. They create intelligent technology that provides revolutionary insights into soil health and management. Learn more about EarthOptics.
ESMC in the News
Carbon Markets Can Bridge Gap to Sustainability Goals
GreenBiz (April 19)
While farmers around the world are reducing emissions and producing crops and livestock in more efficient ways, more must be done to mitigate the impact of climate change. To date, many efforts to pay for climate-positive outcomes have focused on sourcing from farmers, paying them to grow and deliver more sustainable crops. Despite consumers’ stated willingness to pay for such “sustainable” brand claims, progress has been muted. This article highlights ESMC Founding Circle member Corteva’s work with ESMC to build market programs. Read the full article.
Carbon Market Offers Opportunities
Agri-View (April 21)
Dairy farmers who are participating in projects with anaerobic-digester facilities have opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as benefit from carbon credits. And farmers who are considering participating in the carbon-credit market can benefit by understanding more about how their greenhouse-gas-emission footprints are measured. ESMC’s program is highlighted as a voluntary market program open to participants. Read the full article.
The Next Regeneration
Make the World Better (April 2022)
Make the World Better Magazine amplifies good by featuring the stories of individuals and organizations who are making the world better. This issue focuses on regenerative agriculture, showcasing groundbreaking organizations who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to fix every part of the food supply system and make a positive impact on the planet. The issue includes a 2-page article on ESMC’s development, market program and next steps. Read the full article.
Look For ESMC At….
Soil & Climate Alliance Summer Network Meeting; June 21-23, 2022, in Little Rock, Arkansas
The Soil & Climate Alliance Summer 2022 Network meeting will be held June 21 – 23 at the Heifer International campus in Little Rock, Arkansas. Join to make connections, share ideas, and continue working to further the mission of accelerating the transition to a resilient, equitable, and inclusive agriculture system that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, and revitalizes farm and rural economics, while improving water quality, biodiversity, food security, and nutrition. ESMC’s Debbie Reed will present on “Financing Regenerative Transition – The Role of Ecosystem Service Markets”. Read more and register.
ESMC Member and Funder News
General Mills: ‘Regenerative Agriculture Is the Most Promising Solution to Reach Our Climate Goals’
Food Navigator (April 20)
As the largest natural and organic packaged food company in the US, ESMC Founding Circle member General Mills has the scale and resources to drive positive change in the food system through its work in regenerative agriculture, sustainable ingredient sourcing, and nutrition access. So how much has the company moved the needle in these areas? Read the full article.
FFAR & NPB Focus on Continuous Air Quality Improvement Efforts
Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (April 20)
Farmers have always been committed to protecting natural resources, including water, soil, and air for the present and future generations. To measure and continuously improve air quality in and surrounding swine production facilities, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR), in partnership with the National Pork Board (NPB), is launching the Improving Swine Production Air Quality Program. This program dedicates $1 million in grant funding to develop objective measures for key air quality components and concentrations in and within 500 meters of swine production facilities. Read the full announcement.
Determining if Soil Carbon Storage Markets are Right for You
The Texas Agricultural Land Trust (March 2022)
Farmers and ranchers implement land management strategies that may improve soil health, strengthen plant communities that sequester soil carbon, improve water quality and quantity, increase biodiversity, and more. Companies are paying landowners for these services in exchange for credits that demonstrate the companies’ role in offsetting their carbon emissions, protecting ecosystems and supporting a healthy climate. A new guide, Soil Carbon 101: Determining If Soil Carbon Storage Markets Are Right for You, by ESMC funder Noble Research Institute in partnership with other organizations, provides useful questions to assist landowners in identifying partners and contract terms that best align with their personal and operational goals. Read the full article.
Other News of Note
Idaho Press (April 23)
Rancher and consultant Gabe Brown used to wake up wondering what he should kill that day: weeds, pests, or other organisms that plague agricultural producers. These days, he wakes up asking how he can add more life to his land. Brown has become a staunch advocate of enhancing soil health to remedy issues facing society — overuse of chemical fertilizers, land degradation, and lack of proper nutrition, to name a few. “When you realize there are more microorganisms in a teaspoonful of healthy soil than there are people on this planet, that really puts things in perspective,” Brown said. “Let’s work with life.” Read the full article.
An Innovative Agricultural Loan Is Oversubscribed. Here’s What We Learned from the Farmers Who Signed Up.
EDF + Business (April 21)
In January, Farmers Business Network®, a global farmer-to-farmer network and ag tech company, launched a new rebate program for farm operating loans that includes a lower interest rate for farmers who achieve climate and water quality benchmarks created by Environmental Defense Fund. By mid-March, the initial $25-million pilot fund was full, with 48 farmers enrolled and a growing waitlist to participate in an expanded fund. Read the full article.
NRDC Report: Pathways to Regenerative Agriculture
NRDC (April 21)
NRDC’s report, Regenerative Agriculture: Farm Policy for the 21st Century, details an alternative vision of what agriculture can be—one that can respond better to external shocks (like a pandemic), combat climate change by embracing Indigenous growing principles, protect biodiversity by managing farms and ranches as ecosystems, and support competition while putting decision-making power back into the hands of independent farmers and ranchers. NRDC interviewed more than 100 farmers and ranchers from 47 states and Washington, D.C., to learn more about regenerative agriculture and the barriers to and opportunities for practicing it on more acres. Read the full report.
New Hope (April 21)
It started as a conversation between Joe Gardiner, a third-generation farmer and sales manager at Treehouse California Almonds in California’s Central Valley, and Emily Lafferty, formerly the senior manager of strategic sourcing at Simple Mills. “We were talking about regenerative agriculture, the issues farms are facing and how can brands actually be a partner to the farm,” Gardiner says. “Growers are constantly being told how to do something but who’s actually partnering with them?” After several years, that conversation morphed into a full-fledged partnership called The Almond Project designed to make almond farming more sustainable. Read the full article.
Annual Study Again Confirms Higher Profits for Ag Water Quality Certified Farms
Minnesota Department of Agriculture (April 20)
Farmers enrolled in the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) have higher profits than non-certified farms, according to a recent study by the Minnesota State Agricultural Centers of Excellence. This marks the third year of data highlighting improved financial outcomes. The “Influence of Intensified Environmental Practices on Farm Profitability” study examined financial and crop production information from farmers enrolled in the Minnesota State Farm Business Management education program. The 94 MAWQCP farms in the study saw 2021 profits that were an average of more than $16,000 or 6% higher than non-certified farms. Read the full article.
U.S. Climate Alliance Names Casey Katims Executive Director
U.S. Climate Alliance (April 19)
The U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of U.S. governors representing about 55% of the U.S. population and 60% of U.S. GDP, announced that Casey Katims, who most recently served as Deputy Associate Administrator for Intergovernmental Relations at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has been named Executive Director. The Alliance also announced that Taryn Finnessey, who most recently served as the Alliance’s Policy Director and Acting Executive Director, has been promoted to Managing Director of the Alliance, where she will support Katims in management of the organization. Read the full announcement.
Can Low-Cost, Handheld Spectroscopy Tools Coupled with Remote Sensing Accurately Estimate Soil Organic Carbon in Semi-Arid Grazing Lands?
Soil Systems (April 17)
Soil organic carbon (SOC) influences several landscape ecological processes, and soils are becoming recognized as a mechanism to mitigate the negative impacts of climate change. There is a need to define methods and technologies for addressing soils’ spatial variability as well as the time and cost of sampling SOC. Visible and near-infrared spectroscopy have been suggested as a sampling tool to reduce inventory cost. In a recent journal article, researchers highlighted their work sampling nineteen ranch properties across Oklahoma and Texas in 2019 to evaluate the effectiveness and accuracy of a handheld reflectometer and existing remote sensing approaches to estimate SOC in semi-arid grazing lands. Read the full article.
Farming Study Highlights Climate-Resilient Practices
WFDD (April 15)
A new study examines how small farms can profit from climate-resilient agricultural practices. The research was compiled by the Cooperative Extension at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and the Environmental Defense Fund. Case studies from three North Carolina farms illustrate how farmers can approach challenges posed by a changing climate, including severe weather events and hotter temperatures. Recommended practices include reducing tillage, utilizing high tunnels, which are non-heated greenhouses, and covering crops with growing plants to reduce erosion. Read the full article.
We Need Better Carbon Accounting. Here’s How to Get There.
Harvard Business Review (April 12)
The Rocky Mountain Institute reports that the average company’s supply-chain GHG emissions are 5.5 times higher than the direct emissions from its own assets and operations. Any effective system of GHG accounting, therefore, needs to measure accurately each company’s supply-chain carbon impacts, providing visibility and incentives for it to make more climate-friendly product-specification and purchasing decisions. Read the full article.