ESMC Receives $480,000 in Cooperative Agreement with NRCS to Expand Ecosystem Services Market Initiative, Adds Nine New Members

Aided by a $480,000 cooperative agreement with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), ESMC will expand its ecosystem services markets protocol and pilot efforts to four additional regions beyond its first project in the Texas/Oklahoma Southern Great Plains area. The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium LLC (ESMC) is developing a science-based outcomes approach to soil and agricultural stewardship that will provide environmental credits to farmers and ranchers for land stewardship resulting in soil carbon sequestration, reduced greenhouse gases (GHG), improved water quality and conserved use of water.

ESMC members include private and public sector partners along with NGO’s who are creating a voluntary, market-based effort to provide ecosystem service payments to U.S. farmers and ranchers for their results in improving ecosystem services that provide widespread environmental benefits. This includes developing tools to measure conservation activity outcomes. Scheduled for launch in 2022, ESMC’s user-friendly marketplace will enable producers to receive payments from entities seeking measurable, quantifiable and scalable environmental credits to meet their sustainability goals.

Under the NRCS cooperative agreement, ESMC’s members and Steering Committee will identify four additional regions for study, evaluation and future pilot projects. ESMC protocols quantify ecosystem impacts including soil organic carbon, greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and water use efficiency.

“Developing ecosystem services market protocols and refining and verifying them through accompanying pilot projects is key to creating a viable environmental marketplace for the agricultural sector,” said ESMC Executive Director Debbie Reed. “We are excited about the progress we are making with our first project in the Southern Great Plains involving 12 ranchers and 50,000 acres. The support from NRCS enables us to expand to additional production systems and areas,” she said. “In addition, we are delighted to add nine new members to our growing list of partners and eager to include others who share the vision for an agricultural sustainability strategy that benefits farmers, private companies and society as a whole.”

New ESMC Founding Circle members include Corteva Agriscience and Land O’Lakes. New Legacy Partner members include: Anuvia Plant Nutrients, Farm Foundation, Impact Ag Partners, National Corn Growers Association, Pivot Bio, Sand County Foundation, and Tri-Societies.

While ESMC’s initial focus is soil carbon sequestration and improved water quality and quantity, the Consortium intends to expand over time to include additional environmental and ecosystem service attributes from working agricultural lands. The marketplace offers a triple win: farmers receive technical assistance to optimize their land stewardship and additional revenue while enhancing the resilience of their land; corporate credit buyers meet their sustainability goals; and the public benefits from cleaner, more abundant water and climate change mitigation as GHG emissions decline.

ESMC’s top priority is building a marketplace that works first and foremost for farmers and ranchers. ESMC seeks to enroll 30 percent of available land in the top four crop regions and top four pasture regions to impact 250 million acres by 2030.

ESMCs new members join the following current ESMC Founding Circle members ADM; Bunge; Cargill; Danone North America; General Mills; Indigo Agriculture; McDonald’s USA; National Fish and Wildlife Foundation; Noble Research Institute, LLC; Nutrien; The Nature Conservancy and Soil Health Institute. ESMC Legacy Partners include: American Farmland Trust; Bayer; Mars, Inc.; National Association of Conservation Districts; National Farmers Union; Soil Health Partnership; The Fertilizer Institute; Tatanka Resources; and Tyson Foods. Partners pledge financial support and active participation to improve ways to measure, verify and monetize increases in soil carbon, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, improved water quality and increased water conservation. ESMC welcomes companies, nonprofit and conservation organizations and agricultural organizations as partners.

About the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC):

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium LLC (www.ecosystemservicesmarket.org) was formed in May 2019 and is a subsidiary of the Soil Health Institute. ESMC’s mission is to advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems that benefit society. ESMC LLC is a member-based organization launching a national scale ecosystem services market for agriculture to recognize and reward farmers and ranchers for their environmental services to society. ESMC members represent the spectrum of the agricultural sector supply chain with whom we are scaling sustainable agricultural sector outcomes, including increased soil carbon, reduced net greenhouse gases, and improved water quality and water use conservation.

About the Soil Health Institute:

The Soil Health Institute (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.

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© 2021 Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

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