May 2022 ESMC Newsletter
ESMC Launches Eco-Harvest, a Market Program for Regenerative Agriculture
On May 17, ESMC and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced the launch of ESMC’s ecosystem services market program, Eco-Harvest, to reward agricultural producers for beneficial environmental outcomes from regenerative agriculture. Eco-Harvest’s outcomes-based program generates high-demand credits that meet the needs of corporate agricultural supply chain partners in the US.
In 2019, ESMC received a grant of $10.3 million from FFAR for the research needed to develop this market program. ESMC and its members matched the grant to fund research and development projects and programming in the public-private partnership for a total investment of $20.6 million. Launch signifies the readiness of ESMC’s Eco-Harvest market program, which is an end-to-end digitized and advanced technology program and platform to generate high quality, third-party verified credits for soil carbon removals, avoided and reduced greenhouse gases, and water impacts from US farms.
“Four years ago, ESMC and our partners set out to build a next-generation ecosystem service market to recognize and pay farmers for their ecological services. Through planning, due diligence, FFAR and member support, we created our public-private partnership in 2019 and have since implemented pilot projects with producers around the country to test and refine the market program and to build an advanced digitized platform to generate high quality science-based credits. We conducted research, worked with experts, tested technologies, and developed innovative technologies and systems for accurate monitoring, reporting and verification. We are thrilled to announce the launch of Eco-Harvest – built with the generous support of FFAR, our members, our technology partners, and the many producers whose engagement, input, and feedback have led to this launch.” said Debbie Reed, ESMC Executive Director.
“Launch signals that many regions and systems of the country are now ready to move to scaled, market-based projects,” continued Reed. “But we will not stop innovating. The ESMRC – our research and innovation pipeline – will continue to invest in high priority production systems, regions, and tools and technologies that will expand market project delivery in the future. Our plan is to be operational in every region and major production system in the country by the end of 2025.”
With program launch, ESMC is targeting up to 500,000 acres enrollment. Current Eco-Harvest market program regions include the Midwest Corn and Soy Belt, the Northern Great Plains, the Southern Great Plains, and the Great Lakes regions. Production systems included in launch include corn, soy, wheat, and alfalfa cropping systems. Read the full release and more about Eco-Harvest.
ESMC Hosts Eco-Harvest Launch Events in Washington DC
On May 16, ESMC previewed the Eco-Harvest launch for congressional staff at the Senate Agriculture Committee’s hearing room on Capitol Hill. ESMC’s Debbie Reed discussed ESMC’s history and purpose before moderating a panel discussion with representatives from ESMC funder FFAR and ESMC Founding Circle members Nestle and General Mills as well as ESMC Legacy Partner members National Association of Conservation Districts and MFA Inc. After the briefing, ESMC staff and members mingled with committee staff to answer questions and discuss additional details of ESMC’s market program and the ESMRC research program.
On May 17, ESMC officially launched Eco-Harvest at the Dupont Circle Hotel in Washington DC. We were joined by members for presentations and panel discussions followed by afternoon presentations open to non-members.
As part of the launch event, ESMC was honored to be joined via video by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and in-person by Gloria Montano Greene, USDA’s Deputy Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation.
ESMC is grateful to Chairwoman Stabenow and Deputy Undersecretary Montano Greene for their support of and participation in the Eco-Harvest launch and looks forward to continued collaboration.
Photos: (top) ESMC staff, members and funders highlight ESMC’s program on Capitol Hill; (bottom) LaKisha Odom of FFAR introduces Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
ESMC in the News
The Importance of Insets: Where Mitigation and Offsetting Mix
Climate Tech VC (May 27)
Whereas most carbon management frameworks today force us towards acknowledging destructive practices and reducing or covering up their malady, insets give us a view towards a constructive reorganization of processes and technologies that manage inputs more than outputs. Rather than going through the accounting wringer retrospectively to “erase” a corporate’s emissions with another supplier’s offset, insets prevent carbon from being emitted in the first place. ESMC’s recently launched Eco-Harvest program is highlighted as an example of “an inset credit program which rewards producers for beneficial environmental outcomes from regenerative ag while decoupling the physical commodity from its (negative) emissions. This approach has the potential to rewrite the way farmers are rewarded for their regenerative practices, while simplifying mechanisms for food, fiber, and fuel companies to lower their Scope 3 emissions.” Read the full article.
Ag Carbon Market Map: Meet the 75 Companies Helping to Harness the Benefits of Regen Ag
AgFunderNews (May 26)
This updated Agri Carbon Market Map highlights the many programs and organizations working in regenerative ag; including farmer-facing services such as grower advisory tools, carbon project design, and implementation. Additional players in the MRV and carbon monetization spaces have been added as well. ESMC’s market program launch is highlighted. Read the full article.
Key Disagreement Hangs Up Ag Climate Bill
Agri-Pulse (May 25)
Nearly a year after the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill aimed at jump-starting ag climate markets, the bill remains mired in the House Agriculture Committee, raising the possibility the legislation could be punted to the farm bill debate in the next Congress. ESMC’s Debbie Reed is quoted in the article.
Look For ESMC At….
Digital Tools for Sustainable Agriculture; Webinar June 2 11am ET
Digital tools and integrated sensors can detect and target weeds and other pests to assist farmers in deciding which herbicides to apply within the sustainable goal. Artificial intelligence and data companies are helping farmers to get alert on their smart devices about pest events likely to occur on a particular crop or farm. This webinar cycle, hosted by Food4Sustainability CoLAb, will provide help on how to search for these tools and explore how they can be applied for helping on the transition to more sustainable agricultural systems. Austin Arrington, ESMC’s Technical Product Lead, will present on Scaling Ecosystem Services Markets with Software. Read more and register.
Soil & Climate Alliance Summer Network Meeting; June 21-23, 2022, in Little Rock, Arkansas
The Soil & Climate Alliance Summer 2022 Network meeting will be held June 21 – 23 at the Heifer International campus in Little Rock, Arkansas. Join to make connections, share ideas, and continue working to further the mission of accelerating the transition to a resilient, equitable, and inclusive agriculture system that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, and revitalizes farm and rural economics, while improving water quality, biodiversity, food security, and nutrition. ESMC’s Debbie Reed will present on “Financing Regenerative Transition – The Role of Ecosystem Service Markets”. Read more and register.
ESMC Member and Funder News
Civil Eats (May 25)
An article in Civil Eats highlights a recent report by Ceres entitled The Investor Guide to Climate Transition Plans in the U.S. Food Sector. “The food sector right now doesn’t do a great job of disclosing the majority of their emissions, which come from Scope 3 within their value chain,” said Julie Nash, senior program director of Food and Forests at Ceres and co-author of a new report that zeroes in on the issue. “And we found that companies that don’t disclose and really understand their emissions have a hard time addressing them with action plans.” In the report, Nash and her colleagues share data from Ceres’ Food Emissions 50 project, which tracks the top 50 publicly traded North American companies that produce, distribute, and sell foods with the highest greenhouse gas emissions footprints. Just four companies met the authors’ criteria for both full disclosure of Scope 3 emissions and having reduction targets in place that align with science-based frameworks for meeting global goals: Starbucks, Mondelez, Hershey, and ESMC Founding Circle member General Mills. Read the full Civil Eats article.
What State Received the Most Pandemic Cover Crop Program Funding?
American Farmland Trust (May 17)
Cover crops are one of the most effective conservation practices that farmers can use to protect soil health. A recent report by American Farmland Trust – AFT – (an ESMC Legacy Partner member) highlights enrollment in the USDA’s Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) during the 2021 crop year. PCCP works by providing farmers with a $5/acre discount on the cost of their crop insurance premiums when they also plant cover crops on their fields. AFT reviewed enrollment numbers to determine how effective the program is. Read the full article.
Data Technologies and Trends Farmers will Invest in Over the Next Five Years
KCoe Isom (April 22)
An editorial by ESMC Legacy Partner member KCoe Isom highlights how technology has been empowering agriculture since machines replaced the ox and plow. Consider what GPS-guided tractors, moisture tracking sensors, plant genetics, and livestock breeding have done in just the last few decades to propel farmers and ranchers to higher production and profitability. Now, financial technology has emerged as the latest tool to help production agriculture access new opportunities and achieve greater success. With this technology, businesses can seamlessly capture and integrate detailed layers of their operations, allowing them to interact with their financial and farming information in ways they couldn’t before. Read the full article.
Other News of Note
Successful Farming (May 25)
Measuring and marketing systems are in place to meet a growing demand for grassland carbon credits. Read the full article.
Trials Document Cover Crop Benefits in Soil
AgriNews (May 24)
A team of Illinois State University researchers are evaluating the impact of cover crops on carbon sequestration and organic matter. Rob Rhykerd, ISU Department of Agriculture soil science professor, detailed the early results of the trials at University Farm’s recent cover crop field day. Read the full article.
Montana Lentil Farmers Go Against the Grain to Build Thriving Organic Business
Civil Eats (May 20)
Timeless Seeds’s ‘lentil underground’ continues to grow, producing nutrient-dense specialty crops while regenerating Montana’s soils and rural communities. Read the full article.
How Family Farmers Are Working to Get Federal Support for Regenerative Agriculture
Fast Company (May 17)
Every five years, Congress’s $1 trillion Farm Bill funds the agricultural industry. A coalition of farmers and companies are campaigning to get the bill to support regenerative farming—and prioritize family farmers over large-scale agribusiness. Read the full article.