January 2022 ESMC Newsletter
Among ESMC/ESMRC’s many innovations in the ecosystem services market space, we set out to engage the agricultural value and supply chains as well as all program partners in market program testing and refinement prior to market launch. The testing and refinement applies to protocols, data collection, project development and partnership engagement models, technology testing and enhancements, and embedding of technological innovations in program operations. With the generous support of a grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR) and our many additional funders, members and collaborators, we have achieved most of these outcomes since launching in 2019 and remain on target to launch our market program this year.
In the coming months we will be announcing and sharing the outcomes of many of the research, development, demonstration and deployment activities we have collectively invested in with our members. All reports and outcomes will be shared with members and funders exclusively for a set period before being released to the public (as per our consortium policies). We will share high level outcomes and summaries with additional stakeholders on our website, in this newsletter, in the media, and via social media and at conferences and meetings.
Below we share some high-level program updates; we’ll release additional outcomes and updates regularly this year as we lead up to market program launch as the culmination of many years’ collective work comes to fruition.
We have incorporated new enhancements and innovations in program operations and systems of our national scale, harmonized, standardized ecosystem services market program. Our demonstration projects span every major farm commodity across the nation. The research and development phase of our projects has generated significant improvements in efficiencies and cost reductions for every step of the program as shown in our process diagram, below.
We are also implementing a social science survey to evaluate the experiences of producers, enrollment specialists, and project partners to identify additional refinements of program components to make our projects even more streamlined for both producers and buyers.
We have 16 demonstration projects underway across 7 ESMC Program and Protocol Regions covering more than 55,000 acres and have a targeted enrollment of more than 500,000 acres for 2022. Many of these projects will become full-fledged market projects at launch. New 2022 projects include program expansion into California and the Chesapeake Bay regions.
We thank all our members, partners, stakeholders and funders who have contributed to these successes. Together we are tackling some of the greatest challenges of our generation and providing lasting solutions to combat climate change and increase the resilience of US agricultural producers and agricultural systems.
Position Open at ESMC/ESMRC for Protocols and Standards Manager
ESMC/ESMRC is hiring a Protocols and Standards Manager to lead our work on protocol maintenance, adaptations and approvals, working with standards and guidance bodies, and to ensure our projects and programs conform with our protocols. ESMC’s market program launches in 2022 and this position provides an opportunity to work at the forefront of ecosystem services markets/agricultural carbon markets development and scaling. Read more on the position and apply.
Announcing New ESMC/ESMRC Members
ESMC is pleased to announce two new Legacy Partner members joining our public-private partnership – Kimberly-Clark and SLM Partners. Welcome!
Kimberly-Clark’s trusted brands serve one quarter of the world’s population every day. Their portfolio of brands, including Huggies, Kleenex, Scott, Kotex, COTTONELLE, Poise, and Depend, hold the No. 1 or No. 2 share position in 80 countries. Kimberly-Clark’s 2030 sustainability vision is to introduce innovative solutions that reduce their environmental footprint by half across GHG emissions, plastics, water, and natural forest fiber and advance the well-being of one billion people. For the past decade, Kimberly-Clark has been developing sustainable alternatives to replace the use of natural forest fiber in their products. Through their partnership with ESMC, Kimberly-Clark looks forward to maximizing the carbon and water benefits of alternative fibers. Read more about Kimberly-Clark.
SLM Partners is an investment manager that uses capital to scale up ecological farming and forestry. Founded in 2009, it manages funds that invest in organic farming, pasture-raised beef and continuous cover forestry in the USA, Europe, and Australia. All its strategies aim to deliver positive impacts on soil health, carbon storage, and biodiversity. Read more about SLM Partners.
ESMC/ESMRC Release Rotational Tillage Assessment White Paper
To determine whether changing from conventional to rotational tillage in corn and soybean systems offers creditable greenhouse gas (GHG) benefits, ESMC/ESMRC engaged our technical partner, Regrow, to conduct a study using the DNDC soil biogeochemical model to analyze the differences in GHG outcomes between multiple types of tillage practices across a range of soil and climate conditions. The full report is available to ESMC members only at this time, but the report synopsis (now available on ESMC’s website) highlights key results and takeaways from the research. One important finding is that substantial practice changes (e.g., changing from conventional till to no-till) are more likely to generate the most climate benefit and, therefore, more GHG credits. Stacking additional practice changes, such as the adoption of cover crops or reductions in fertilizer applications, on top of improved tillage will further improve results and maximize a producer’s return from participating in a carbon program.
ESMC Podcast Episode #5 Describes ESMC’s Market Program Design
ESMC is pleased to announce a series of podcasts available on our website. Each podcast in the series of six details specific aspects of ESMC’s innovative market program and delves into the role of agriculture in reducing greenhouse gases and improving water quality. The fifth episode in this series highlights the difference between Scope 1 and Scope 3 credits in carbon markets. Click here to listen.
USDA, an ESMC/ESRMC funder and participant in our public private partnerships, recently announced several major policy initiatives to incentivize the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices, including updates to EQIP and CSP, new research opportunities via the USDA Climate Hubs, and new funding for public-private partnerships through the RCPP program. ESMC enthusiastically welcomes these announcements and urges producers to take full advantage of these programs by enrolling in ESMC’s market program prior to adopting these newly incentivized practices to maximize potential returns. The adoption of new practices that generate credits in ESMC’s market program can act as a multiplier effect to boost the bottom lines of producers who enroll in USDA programs and ESMC’s market program simultaneously. Also, market additionality requirements will preclude market credit generation for practices adopted prior to joining a market program.
Look For ESMC At….
The Top Producer Summit brings together the nation’s top producers for networking, education, entertainment and more. ESMC’s Policy Director Andrew Lentz will participate in two panels on carbon markets at the Top Producer Summit to discuss ESMC’s work building our market program. Read more about the event and register.
World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit 2022: March 22 – 23, San Francisco, CA
Now in its 10th year, the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit has become the annual meeting place for the global agtech ecosystem. ESMC’s Executive Director Debbie Reed will speak on a panel entitled, “Carbon Programs: Building a Global Accounting System to Reward Farmers for Ecological Services”. Read more about the event.
ESMC Member and Funder Updates
In order for companies in land-intensive sectors to have a fighting chance of avoiding catastrophic climate breakdown, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), along with ESMC Legacy Partner member WWF and others, is developing guidance to have a standard method to account and set science-based targets that include land-related emissions and removals. The group is inviting stakeholders to help shape the first guidance for setting science-based targets that include land-related emissions and removals – by providing feedback through a public consultation period. The draft guidance document is available online; and comments are due February 18, 2022. A recent public consultation webinar is also available online.
Cover Crops Play a Starring Role in Climate Change Mitigation
USDA/Farmers.gov (January 22)
America’s rural communities are on the frontlines of climate change, and now is the time for agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to act. There are various ways to help mitigate the effects of climate change on your land and improve your bottom line at the same time. One very effective way is by planting cover crops. This article by ESMC funder USDA highlights both the importance of cover crops for soil health as well as how USDA supports cover crops. Read the full article.
USDA Invests $2 Million in Risk Management Education for Historically Underserved and Small-Scale Producers
USDA (January 10)
ESMC funder USDA is investing up to $2 million in cooperative agreements this year for risk management education and training programs that support historically underserved producers, small-scale farmers, and conservation practices. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is investing in organizations, such as nonprofit organizations, universities, and county cooperative extension offices, to develop training and education tools to help producers learn how to effectively manage long-term risks and challenges. Read the full press release.
Job Opening: Manager, Sustainability Initiatives and Outreach at Newtrient
ESMC Legacy Partner member Newtrient is hiring for a Manager, Sustainability Initiatives and Outreach. The candidate should have a background/strong interest in agriculture and science-based understanding of environmental and economic opportunities for farms. It’s an exciting opportunity to work in a transformative space with environmental researchers and sustainability leaders to evaluate conservation practices, technologies and clean energy, and carbon and water quality trading markets. Read more and apply.
Job Opening: Global Sustainability, Positive Agriculture Solutions Director at PepsiCo
ESMC Legacy Partner member PepsiCo is hiring a Solutions Director to lead a team in developing a pipeline of innovative practices, processes and/or technologies to enable delivery of Pepsico’s Positive Agriculture goals as well as mitigate risk and deliver business value. This position will require technical aptitude and ability to deliver executional and scalable solutions in collaboration with internal stakeholders requiring coordination across the Global Sustainability Office as well as with other functions within PepsiCo. Read more and apply.
Other News of Note
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Farmers Business Network (FBN) recently announced a new farm operating loan that includes a lower interest rate incentive for farmers who achieve climate and water quality benchmarks. Join a webinar on Thursday, February 3rd at 3pm eastern/2pm central, where speakers from both organizations will discuss the environmental standards and robust science underpinning the loan, how farmers will experience this new loan, and how FBN and EDF hope to learn from the pilot and expand this opportunity with more investors and farmers.
Hoorman: Three Methods for Building Soil Carbon
Crescent News (January 22)
Most of our agricultural soils are lacking adequate levels of organic matter and good soil health to obtain optimal yields. The lack of humic substances and healthy soil biology reduces the soil’s water holding capacity and the ability to release nutrients when the plants need them, leading to reduced crop quality and lower yields. Now that some carbon markets are paying farmers to store carbon, here are some ways to get paid to store soil carbon with added crop and soil benefits. Read the full article.