March 2022 ESMC Newsletter
ESMC and SustainCERT Announce New Partnership at the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit
Last week, ESMC and SustainCERT announced a new partnership to accelerate the deployment of SustainCERT’s Scope 3 software and digital verification capabilities for agriculture value chains in the United States. The end-to-end digital solution is designed to create trust that real, quantified and verified progress is happening on the ground and to recognize those taking action in their supply chains. The software and partnership will also support ESMC/ESMRC programming to allow much needed co-investments in scope 3 supply chain climate action so that corporate actors can share investments and outcomes. The ESMC/ESMRC and SustainCERT partnership will integrate the partners’ proprietary systems to enable seamless and digitized Scope 3 intervention impact monetization through the creation of verified Scope 3 impact units or emissions factors. ESMC will help pilot test and improve the solution, allowing for better alignment with ESMC/ESMRC member needs, other user needs, as well as with civil society quality requirements, including the Greenhouse Gas Protocol. Read the full announcement.
The Importance of Scope 3 Supply Chain Action
As highlighted in a recent article in Politico, “most corporate pledges to zero out greenhouse gas emissions have one thing in common: Offsets. Paying to plant trees, cap methane wells or fund other green activities can be easier (and cheaper?) than actually reducing pollution, and demand for these emissions offsets is exploding.” A recent report from As You Sow, Road to Zero Emissions: 55 Companies Ranked on Net Zero Progress, assesses the progress of 55 of the largest U.S. corporations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement’s objective of limiting global average temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which requires achieving “net zero” emissions by 2050. The primary finding from the report is that the overwhelming majority of companies assessed have neither established comprehensive, 1.5 degree-aligned GHG reduction goals nor demonstrated progress in reducing their emissions in alignment with net zero goals. Only three companies received an overall “A” rating – one of which is ESMC Legacy Partner member PepsiCo. ESMC/ESMRC’s work to generate quantified, verified Scope 3 emissions factors (EF) helps our members achieve their net zero climate commitments in a credible, transparent, science-based program. Members’ actions to reduce supply chain GHG emissions and increase soil carbon removals in our market program are reflected in the generated EFs which reflect supply chain interventions and investments that reduce the GHG emissions associated with purchased goods and products. ESMC/ESMRC’s work with organizations like SustainCERT to verify Scope 3 emissions factors allows our buyers to have certainty that the emission reductions are credible and high quality. Our work to accelerate the deployment of Scope 3 software that tracks EF’s and allows co-investments by others who can share those EF in supply chains is an added benefit and will prevent inappropriate double-counting of EF as well.
Pilot Project Update: ESMC and Benson Hill Partner to Support Midwest Farmers Participation in Agricultural Carbon Markets
ESMC and Benson Hill, Inc. announced the completion of the first year of a carbon credit pilot leveraging Benson Hill’s farm to ingredient business model. Over 2021, ESMC executed several successful projects with soy and corn farmers across the Midwest to generate carbon credits and earn payments for reduced greenhouse gases and increased soil carbon as an outcome of their on-farm practice changes. The project with Benson Hill is particularly unique because of the organization’s closed loop business model, giving Benson Hill the capability to leverage its data aggregation from the farm through ingredient manufacturing, and streamlines the carbon credit generation process within ESMC’s program. Debbie Reed, ESMC’s Executive Director, noted, “Our digitized program enables seamless enrollment and participation for farmers. The innovative model we are testing with Benson Hill allows us to develop farmer support from seed to harvest, and it enables rapid aggregation and utilization of robust data sets. This type of integrated partnership and infrastructure is critical to scale a long-term viable market that meets buyer and seller needs equally.” Read the full announcement.
Announcing New ESMC/ESMRC Members
ESMC is pleased to announce two new Legacy Partner members joining our public-private partnership – NewLeaf Symbiotics and Iowa Corn. Welcome!Read more about the organization. The Iowa Corn Promotion Board® works to develop and defend markets, fund research, and provide education about corn and corn products. The Iowa Corn Growers Association® is a membership organization lobbying on agricultural issues on behalf of its 7,000 members. Both organizations work on the joint mission to create opportunities for long-term Iowa corn grower profitability. Read more about the organization.NewLeaf Symbiotics is an agriculture technology company that discovers, develops, and commercializes a new class of microbial inoculants. These microbial inoculant products enhance nutrient use efficiency and improve crop performance. Their biological pipeline includes products paving the way towards new solutions for pest control and methane mitigation.
ESMC Welcomes a New Project Manager
ESMC is pleased to announce that Jake Deutmeyer has joined the ESMC team as an ESMC Project Manager. Jake will work with ESMC’s pilot projects and will coordinate soil sampling processes and work. While he grew up on his family’s dairy farm in Iowa, he also brings global experience from his 5 years of procurement work in the spice industry for Kalsec and Frontier Co-op. Jake gained expertise within the organic sector, where he coordinated projects with farmers across the globe, imported commodities through supply chains, and drove commercial product launches. Prior to his work in spices, he also did a brief internship for a branch office of the United Nations in Zaragoza, Spain focused on water sustainability. Jake holds a Masters in Management from IE Business School Madrid and a BBA in Economics from the University of Iowa. Read more about ESMC’s staff.
ESMC Policy Update
ESMC welcomed USDA’s announcement for a 30-day extension of the deadline for applications to the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities grant program. ESMC is working with our members and partners to submit an ESMC/ESMRC led-proposal and coordinating with several other applicants as a partner in their proposals.
ESMC in the News
Enabling Chesapeake Bay’s Landowners to Benefit from Carbon and Ecosystem Services Through AggregationRead the full article.Conservation Finance Network (March 24) While carbon markets offer a large and growing source of funding for conservation and stewardship of forests, farms, and wetlands, small landowners have largely been unable to participate. Despite rapid growth in these markets, the high cost of verification and validation make it so that landowners with fewer than 5,000 forested acres usually cannot make money, or even recoup their expenses. One area of active innovation involves layering multiple payments to raise the financial incentives for landowners. The article highlights ESMC’s program as one that combines payments from multiple sources for each landowner.
SEC Rule May Force Better Tracking of Cuts in Ag Carbon EmissionsRead the full article.AgriPulse (March 23) Food and apparel companies face proposed new disclosure requirements for greenhouse gas emissions that could accelerate efforts to document greenhouse gas reductions associated with agriculture. ESMC’s market program is featured.
Look For ESMC At….
ESMC Webinar: “Carbon Markets and Monetization”; Friday, April 8, 1 – 2 p.m. CTRead more and register.Join a Trust in Food-moderated panel discussion with ESMC, MFA Incorporated and the Missouri Corn and Soybean Growers to explore the agronomics, data, and eligibility behind one of the fastest-growing ancillary revenue streams on the farm. During the webinar, participants can learn how to prepare their farm to participate in carbon markets with insights on pilot projects from the producer perspective, contract terms, measurement requirements and validation processes.
Hawkeye Decarbonization Summit 2022, April 21 – 22, Iowa City, IARead more and register.This event brings together Decarb2040 partners, the University of Iowa community of researchers, staff and students interested in decarbonization, practitioners, and funding agency representatives to explore the path forward. The event will be presented both in-person and virtually. ESMC’s Debbie Reed will speak at a panel entitled “How Can Decarbonization Lead to Stronger Rural Communities?”.
ESMC Member and Funder News
A Farmer, Agribusiness, and Food Company Talk Regenerative AgricultureRead the full article.Successful Farming (March 23) At the World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit in San Francisco last week, regenerative agriculture was a hot topic. It’s no surprise, as regenerative ag has had a swarm of interest in the past couple of years from government, corporations, consumers, and agriculture. On a panel, leaders from Syngenta Seeds, Kellogg Company, The Nature Conservancy, and Moreland Farms, discussed ways to define regenerative agriculture and how to apply technology across different regenerative ag systems (Syngenta and The Nature Conservancy are ESMC Founding Circle members).
10 Soil Health Tips to Help Tackle Weed Control This SpringRead the full article.Successful Farming (March 3) Nutrient and weed control plans may end up looking different than usual this year due to supply challenges, notes Hans Kok of the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) – as ESMC Legacy Partner member. Kok points out that many growers are considering weed control regimes and tillage practices that they haven’t used in years. He says that a little forethought can help protect the gains in soil health they have made over those years.
Other News of Note
Farmers Should Know About Carbon MarketsRead the full article.Successful Farming (March 22) Government involvement may be needed to curb the “Wild West” mentality that exists in carbon markets today.
SEC Proposes Rules to Enhance and Standardize Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors
Securities and Exchange Commission Release (March 21) The Securities and Exchange Commission proposed rule changes that would require registrants to include certain climate-related disclosures in their registration statements and periodic reports, including information about climate-related risks that are reasonably likely to have a material impact on their business, results of operations, or financial condition, and certain climate-related financial statement metrics in a note to their audited financial statements. The required information about climate-related risks also would include disclosure of a registrant’s greenhouse gas emissions, which have become a commonly used metric to assess a registrant’s exposure to such risks. Read the full release.
As it Enters a Third Year, California’s Drought Is Strangling the Farming IndustryRead the full article.Washington Post (March 21) The San Joaquin Valley is among the most productive agricultural regions on earth. The hard truth here, the one that fundamentally shapes the lives of those in the valley, is that water is disappearing. So is a way of life, a core of California economic culture, and a place that provides a nation struggling under the rising rate of inflation with a quarter of its food.
These Cattle Ranchers Are Raising Better Beef, Spending Less — and Reducing Carbon EmissionsRead the full article.CNBC (March 19) Cattle ranchers like Gabe Brown and Will Harris, who adopted regenerative grazing practices years ago, did not do so to combat climate change. They were looking to save their farm on a shoestring budget or in a push away from industrial farming practices. But the regenerative grazing practices also sequester carbon, which is critical for combatting global warming.
How Regional Accounting Can Boost the Integrity of the Voluntary Soil Carbon MarketScience, scientists recommend a regional framework to boost market integrity and support farmers, governments, and the private sector in delivering high-quality credits. Read the full article.Environmental Defense Fund (March 17) As enthusiasm for agricultural soil carbon as a climate mitigation strategy grows, carbon registries and private companies are developing carbon crediting protocols to bring soil carbon credits into the voluntary market. Credits need to accurately represent net greenhouse gas reductions and be equivalent to each other. In a new paper published in
How Credit and Climate Change Collide for Black Farmers in GeorgiaRead the full article and interview.Environmental Defense Fund (March 17) Earlier this month, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund hosted a listening session for its Black farmer-members in Georgia in collaboration with Environmental Defense Fund. The federation is a nonprofit cooperative association of Black farmers, landowners and cooperatives based primarily in the Southern states. In the listening session, 15 farmers discussed their ongoing concerns about access to credit and climate change impacts, as well as how coalition building and advocacy can support them in continuing to farm.
Career Opportunity: CEO at Iroquois ValleyView the full position description.Iroquois Valley is searching for its next CEO; they are seeking someone who will put farmers first and thoroughly understands organic and regenerative agriculture, including the investors who support it. The next CEO will lean into the opportunity to evolve and scale operations, oversee Iroquois Valley’s financial position, evaluate, and improve effectiveness, and chart Iroquois Valley’s participation in a growing ecosystem of agricultural impact investments, alternative finance, and public benefit corporations. Ideally, this person will be a strong storyteller and connector committed to communicating farming’s values beyond bushels per acre to advancing its vital role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.