FFAR Renews ESMC Partnership to Grow Ecosystem Services Market Program

12 September 2023

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (Sept. 12, 2023) – The agriculture sector contributes about 11% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which impacts climate change. Adopting regenerative practices that are more conservation and rehabilitation focused, America’s farmers and ranchers can play a key role in reducing GHG emissions, as well as protecting our nation’s natural resources.

To facilitate this transition, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded $10.3 million in 2019 to the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) to support the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC), ESMC’s research arm. ESMC and its members matched FFAR’s grant for a total investment of $20.6 million in the research program. ESMRC completed the necessary research, development, demonstration and deployment activities required to initiate an innovative ecosystem services market program. The resulting program, Eco-Harvest, launched in May 2022 and is dedicated to scaling beneficial soil health, climate and natural resource outcomes from U.S. agriculture. Eco-Harvest program regions include the corn and soy belt, Northern Great Plains, Southern Great Plains, Southeast and Great Lakes regions for corn, soy, wheat, oats and alfalfa cropping systems.

Today, FFAR announced an additional investment of $5.15 million in ESMRC for research that creates sound social, economic and environmental outcomes to benefit producers, local communities, supply chain companies and consumers through the scope and scale expansion of Eco-Harvest. ESMC is matching the award for a total $10.3 million research investment.

With this grant renewal, ESMRC will conduct the research, development, demonstration and deployment activities that facilitate Eco-Harvest participating in all major U.S. agricultural regions; expanding the crops and livestock production systems it supports; developing incentives to increase in-field biodiversity; and improving program access to and engagement with traditionally underserved producers and their communities. This component will include social science research and engagement of relevant membership and representational programs and groups.

ESMC’s Executive Director Debbie Reed said, “FFAR’s leadership in cutting-edge public-private partnerships was essential to help establish and launch Eco-Harvest. As we expand our ecosystem services program through this FFAR investment, we will utilize the successful approach developed in our initial FFAR grant – conducting real-world pilot and demonstration projects – to ensure our program incentivizes producers to adopt regenerative agriculture, meets the needs of corporations working to reduce their supply chain footprints and creates measurable beneficial outcomes for society.”

“FFAR is thrilled to support and build on the ESMRC research we funded in 2019,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, FFAR scientific program director for Soil Health. “This consortium has a proven track record of conducting necessary research, alongside industry stakeholders, to expand adoption of cost-effective, efficient and measurable soil health practices to new producers. These practices are critical in protecting farmers’ livelihoods and the environment, while increasing productivity.”

Eco-Harvest is an ecosystem services market program that financially rewards participating producers for using regenerative agriculture practices that generate beneficial environmental outcomes including increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases and improved water quality. Producers pay no fee to participate and have autonomy to decide which Eco-Harvest menu of specific practices and systems is best for their operation. The measured and verified outcomes from these practice changes are purchased by U.S. agricultural supply chain corporations to reduce their environmental footprint and meet their sustainability goals. Producers are paid for these measured outcomes.

© 2023 Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

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