Ecosystem Services Market Consortium
Our Mission: To advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems that benefit society.
Executive Director Update
ESMC adds our voices and our dedicated support to the global fight against racism and fundamental, systemic human rights abuses and inequalities. We commit to making racial justice, equality, equity, inclusion, a celebration of Pride, and diversity part of our focus, our work, our communications and our conversations. Consistent and sustained effort is necessary to achieve equality and inclusion, and we know and acknowledge we have not been doing enough to achieve real change.We commit to doing better, and to doing more. We are pleased to have heard from many of our members, stakeholders and partners who have reached out to us to join forces in their commitments and ours to fight racism and inequality. Together we can make structural, systemic change happen. But it will take continuous work, and accountability, and we commit to both.We support and commit to open, inclusive, dialogue to better hear and understand the experiences and the realities of the many who are and have been oppressed and for whom equality is not and has never been a reality. We commit to taking action to effect change, and to reporting on our actions and achievements, monthly, and in an ongoing manner. We will hold ourselves accountable, and we will report on our progress and any challenges we may encounter.
We will put together an ESMC Working Group on Inclusion and Racial Justice. One of the first things we know we can do is ensure that farmers and ranchers of color are included in our program. Historically, black and minority farmers and ranchers have been discriminated against, including access to land tenure and ownership and to financing and other forms of support. We commit to include black and minority farmers and ranchers in our Producer Circle, to provide advice, influence and input to our ongoing operations. We commit to ensuring that pilot program and full program opportunities include black and minority farmers, many of whom have smaller landholdings as a result of discriminatory and exclusionary policies and programs. And we commit to greater racial and gender diversity and inclusion in our organization, including underrepresented groups. As we continue to build out our strategic plan and our metrics for success, we will ensure that equality, inclusion and justice metrics will be included.
We look forward to holding these discussions and to effecting change with our members and partners and stakeholders as we actively build a better, more equitable future for ourselves and many generations to come.
– Debbie Reed and the ESMC Team
Deadline Extended for ESMRC RFP
ESMC has extended the RFP submission deadline to July 3rd for the Working Group 1 project for the development of a Soil Stratification App. This RFP seeks to engage one or multiple partners to build a web and/or mobile platform that generates a set of points for soil sampling based on publicly available input data that produces high accuracy estimates of soil carbon stock changes due to management at a reasonable cost. View full RFP here.
Proposals must be submitted as a PDF document by email to Caroline Wade, ESMRC Program Director, at email@example.com by July 3rd, 8pm ET. Final decisions will be made by July 17th and all vendors will be notified by July 20th. If you have questions regarding this RFP, please contact Stephen Wood at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ESMC Pilot Project Update: ESMC Western Lake Erie Basin Pilot with CTIC
The CTIC-led ESMC Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) pilot project in the Western Lake Erie Basin is gaining traction. In late June, ESMC and the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC)—with partners in the area like The Nature Conservancy—will convene farmers, crop advisers, CPG companies and other stakeholders to explore factors that will help make the market program attractive to both buyers and sellers while moving the needle on a regionally important goal – reducing phosphorus entering Lake Erie. By adding the ESMC market component, the program allows farmers to meet multiple corporate sustainability goals through one streamlined process. Among the most exciting elements of this pilot is the use of OpTIS remote sensing data along with APEX modeling performed by Heidelberg University for cost-effective verification and quantification of water quality impacts of conservation practices. ESMC is utilizing OpTIS for GHG impacts in other pilots already. The pilot project will also help to refine ESMC’s recently expanded protocol and will identify test sites for two newly launched ESRMC research projects focused on further development of water quality quantification and the testing of new technologies to measure soil carbon to reduce quantification costs. This pilot program, funded through the end of 2022, covers the Maumee, Sandusky and Portage Cedar watersheds. Participating farmers will have the option to continue participating in the ESMC market when it launches nationally in 2022.
Opportunities for ESMC Member Engagement and Reminder of June 18 Producer Circle Nomination Deadline
A strength of the ESMC is its over 50 member organizations who are key stakeholders and investors in the Consortium. Members are helping to shape a scientifically and research-based market that benefits producers and society alike. Key to the success of this market will be a program that works for the farmers and ranchers who are investing in conservation improvements on their land. With the support of the Walton Family Foundation, ESMC is pleased to be launching its Producer Circle this summer to ensure representation of producer perspectives during the pilot testing phase over the next 18 months in preparation for the full market launch in 2022. ESMC members and funders are reminded that Producer Circle nominations are due this Thursday, June 18. Please contact Shiva Scotti if a copy of the nomination form is needed, or Cassie Aherin, ESMC Project Manager, who is leading this work from our team. The Producer Circle will be selected by the end of June and will be introduced in the July newsletter.
ESMC members are also being tapped to serve on a member Advisory Committee to help inform the development of the Certified Technical Assistance Provider Program and the Certified Verifier Program Manuals. ESMC Program Development Consultant Dr. Deke Alkire is leading the development of these programs and the Advisory Committee.
ESMC Support for The Growing Climate Solutions Act
ESMC encourages support for the recent introduction of the Growing Climate Solutions Act (S.3894, A bill to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to develop a program to reduce barriers to entry for farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners in private environmental markets). U.S. Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced this legislation which will break down some known barriers for ag producers to participate in private, voluntary carbon markets and be rewarded for climate-smart practices. Understanding the value and opportunities that private, voluntary environmental markets can provide by paying farmers for their hard-earned environmental services, the Senators are proposing to tap federal agency expertise to ensure farmers and ranchers have the technical support they need to participate in private markets. As noted by ESMC Executive Director, Debbie Reed, in a Progressive Farmer story about this initiative, the proposed legislation is a “win-win” for ESMC. The legislation, introduced on June 4, has broad bipartisan support, including that of over 50 organizations, including several ESMC members as listed here. Highlights of the proposed legislation are summarized by the National Law Review here.
ESMC Selected for Round Two of the Roddenberry Prize
ESMC is pleased to be invited to move forward into Round Two of the Roddenberry Prize. The Roddenberry Prize seeks to highlight extraordinary organizations and support their efforts towards greater impact; seek out creative approaches from diverse members of our global community; and inspire others to take innovative and creative approaches to global problems. Four top awards will be announced in August to organizations working in Education, Environment, Science or Humanity. ESMC is honored to be recognized in this elite competition.
Welcome New ESMC Members
ESMC is pleased to announce Silicon Ranch as its newest Legacy Partner member. Silicon Ranch is the U.S. solar platform for Shell and one of the largest independent solar power producers in the country. Welcome!
ESMC Member News
Corteva Agriscience Announces 2030 Sustainability Goals
ESMC Founding Circle member, Corteva Agriscience, announced the establishment of 14 goals to achieve by 2030 that will increase the resilience of our global food system. The goals are focused on sustainable agriculture and farming and organized around four areas – farmers, the land, communities, and its operations. Learn more here
Cargill Releases Progress on 2030 Sustainability Goals
Over the past year, another ESMC Founding Circle member, Cargill, also released sustainability goals for 2030. The company recently released an update on its supply chain- specific progress towards its goals. Read more here.
NCGA Grower Member Leads the Way in Conservation Ag Movement
Congratulations to ESMC Legacy Partner member, the National Corn Growers Association, on the election of one of its grower members this winter as the first-ever farmer President of Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture (also an ESMC member organization). Brandon Hunicutt was elected President of the Board in February but was recently featured in a Farm Journal Conservation Ag Movement story as he spoke about the importance of the Field to Market Fieldprint Calculator and the commitment of farmers to stewardship even during these trying economic times. Read the story here.
Arva Intelligence Partners with Berkley Labs on DOE Grant
Congratulations to ESMC Legacy Partner member, Arva Intelligence, on their partnership with Berkley Labs on a Department of Energy (DOE) small business grant to make bioenergy crops more environmentally friendly. The Arva project is one of three Berkley Labs’ project that aim to quantify and reduce the carbon intensity of agriculture, including the farming of biofuel feedstocks such as corn, soy, and sorghum, while also increasing yield. Read more here.
Several ESMC Members Recognized for Contributions to Regenerative Products
The 2020 Drawdown Review: Climate Solutions for a New Decade, of the nonprofit Project Drawdown, has been getting much attention in the press recently, highlighting the importance of regenerative agriculture practices in the shift to a more sustainable future. A recent piece in the Strategy+Business management e-publication focused on the Drawdown report, and highlighted the exciting work of several ESMC members who are working to promote regenerative agriculture practices, including: the Soil Health Institute, General Mills, The Nature Conservancy, and the Soil Health Partnership. Read the full article here. Congratulations to our members for recognition of their great work.
ESMC Member Carbon Cowboys Project Release
A new documentary series was recently released by Peter Byck, of ESMC Legacy Partner member, Arizona State University. Carbon Cowboys is a ten-part documentary series, beginning with “Soil Carbon Cowboys” in 2014 and culminating with “Carbon Cowboys,” launched on April 29, 2020. The series covers the soil health work of cattle farmers and ranchers across the U.S. and in Canada and the U.K..
Look for ESMC at . . .
75th International Soil & Water Conservation Society Annual Conference
ESMC will be presenting about “Creating a Market for Conservation” during the Conservation Economics & Policy Symposium Session on July 29 during the 2020 Annual Conference of the Soil and Water Conservation Society. This 75th anniversary conference is being held for the first time ever as a virtual conference July 27 – 29. Conference program and registration information may be found here
.5th Annual Meeting of the Soil Health Institute
ESMC members and team members are on the program and will be participating in the Soil Health Institute’s Virtual Annual Meeting, Soil Health: The Foundation for Regenerative Agriculture
, July 29 – 31. Find the agenda and registration information here
. . . Online!
Our ESMC team continues its active work in addressing goals and priorities of the ESMC. Please let us know if we can assist with requests for virtual presentations or other questions to be addressed. Stay up-to-date on ESMC happenings at our website and follow us on social media. We are active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as @MarketEcosystem, @EcosystemServicesMarketConsortium and Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, respectively.
Other News of Note
Soil Health Practices Increasingly Helping Farmers Hit Pay Dirt
Bay Journal (June 9) – As he has dozens of times since stumbling into the benefits of cover cropping and no-till farming nearly 50 years ago, Pennsylvania farmer Leroy Bupp set up his props for a talk on soil health at a large Chesapeake Bay conference. The real wow moment came when he dropped two clods of soil — one from his no-tilled, cover-cropped farm and one from a neighbor’s conventionally tilled field — into beakers of water. The neighbor’s dirt quickly dissolved and fell to the bottom, showing how easily it would be whisked away in a rainstorm. But Bupp’s handful of dirt stayed clumped together even as holes from worms, bugs and air passages soaked up some of the water. Continue reading the article here
Embedding Agriculture in Nature Is Beneficial for Biodiversity and Business
Green Biz (May 26) – In the United States, agricultural land makes up nearly 45 percent of the land area, illustrating the important role working landscapes could play in mitigating the worst effects of biodiversity loss while adapting to the extreme weather patterns and climate trends we presently face. And yet, a 2018 report from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy found that less than half of states in the U.S. have climate adaptation plans that include agriculture; even fewer give attention to how farms and fields can be managed as part of the larger landscape. Continue reading the article here.
Researchers Examine Climate Change Perception Among Specialty-Crop Producers
Penn State News (May 26) – Farmers whose operations have been impacted negatively by changing precipitation patterns — either too much or not enough water — are more likely to acknowledge the link between extreme weather conditions and climate change. That is one of the findings of a study examining farmers’ perceptions of resource availability and climate change, published recently in Organization and Environment. Continue reading the article here.