Potential purchases of U.S. ecosystem credits from agriculture could be as high as $13.9 billion according to an IHS Markit (formerly Informa) economic assessment released by the ESMC. The study sought to determine the extent of market demand for credits that American farmers and ranchers can generate through establishing and maintaining conservation practices that provide quantified ecosystem benefits. The Economic Assessment was released at the September 24 Farm Foundation Forum on “Incentivizing Conservation Agriculture.”“The Informa assessment confirms ESMC’s conviction that there is substantial demand for ecosystem services from farmers and ranchers. ESMC is building a voluntary market to monetize those outcomes for producers, using science-based approaches to increase and measure soil organic carbon, reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve water quality and water use efficiency,” said ESMC Executive Director Debbie Reed. “This study demonstrates conclusively the demand for the ecosystems services marketplace ESMC will launch in 2022. Through the ESMC marketplace, farmers and ranchers will receive payments for the environmental benefits they provide, and corporate and public entities will be able purchase credits to meet their sustainability goals.” Read the full press release here.
To access the full report, click here.
To access a 2-page summary of the IHS Markit Economic Assessment, click here.
Welcome New ESMC Team Members
ESMC is pleased to welcome two Project Managers to the team! Tom Driscoll and Caroline Wade will be instrumental in helping move the ESMC platform to the implementation stage.
Driscoll, formerly leading conservation policy for the National Farmers Union, will be responsible for oversight of development and refinement of ESMC protocols, for planning and implementing pilot projects, and for certification of assets that will prepare for the national program launch. Wade will provide administrative, strategic, facilitative and technical support for ESMRC Working Groups (see below) focused on research, development, demonstration and deployment of cost-effective, scalable technologies and approaches necessary to accomplish the program goals, objectives and outcomes. She comes to ESMC from several years of agriculture conservation focused work in the corn belt region with The Nature Conservancy and Illinois Corn Growers Association.
The ESMC member-driven research consortium – known as the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) – will support development of a cost-effective and scalable approach to farmer and rancher engagement in ecosystem service markets, an approach needed to scale the beneficial impacts of sustainable practice adoption on working agricultural lands. The ESMRC will also meet corporate and societal needs by quantifying, monitoring and verifying the environmental benefits achieved on an annual and ongoing basis. This body of work falls into five research objectives: Impact Quantification; Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) technologies; MRV Platform; Gridded Land Ledger; and Quantifying Soil Ecosystem Service Capacities. To achieve these goals, four ESMRC Working Groups have been established and tasked with developing and implementing specific research and development initiatives. The Working Groups, co-led by ESMC members and informed by Science Advisors chosen from a slate of national experts, will focus on the research, development, demonstration and deployment of cost-effective, scalable technologies and approaches.
Working Group 1: Quantification of Soil C and net GHG in Protocols, Pilots and Certification will work to develop accurate, cost-effective and scalable quantification of agricultural management system impacts on soil C and net GHG (carbon, methane and nitrous oxide), including economic impacts. Working Group 2: Quantification of Water Quality and Water Quantity in Protocols, Pilots and Certification will do the same for impacts on water quality and water quantity. Working Group 3: Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Technologies; MRV Platform; and Gridded Land Ledger will work to develop innovative and advanced analytical tools and technologies to cost-effectively quantify, assess, monitor, and verify systems-based impacts of the operations of farmers and ranchers at scale while providing robust and transparent documentation of outcomes. This group will also develop a secure platform to cost-effectively collect, store and manage data inputs and outputs in order to support the marketplace and develop a land ledger that tracks ecosystem service outcomes in a geospatial manner. Working Group 4: Soil Carbon Research to Quantify and Achieve Ecosystem Service Capacities of Soils will work to credibly assess the technical capacity for different soils to absorb and retain carbon and contribute to improved water quality and water use conservation as metrics of soil health.
Upcoming ESMC Member Meeting
Founding Circle and Legacy Partner members will gather in Washington, DC, for their second quarterly meeting on November 14–15. As of this newsletter, 14 companies and organizations have joined the ESMC as Founding Circle Members, along with 21 Legacy Partner Member companies and organizations. Members will consider and prioritize strategic recommendations from the Working Groups and next steps for action.
ESMC Member News
Noble Research Institute and National Grazing Lands Coalition Promoting Conservation on Our Lands
ESMC founding member Noble Research Institute (NRI) is pleased to share the first #ourlands video of the National Grazing Lands Coalition. The video features one of the cattle ranchers participating in the Integrity Beef Sustainability Project, a collaborative effort of the NRI with cattle ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma who are serving in the first ESMC pilot project. See the video here.
Anuvia Plant Nutrients Announces Plans for Expansion
Congratulations to ESMC Legacy Partner member Anuvia Plant Nutrients on the announcement of the planned opening of their second bio-based fertilizer production facility in 2020. Read more here.
Danone, Mars and Nestle among Companies Launch One Planet Business for Biodiversity
One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) was recently launched at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York by 19 major companies – including ESMC Founding Circle Members Danone and Nestle and Legacy Partner Mars, Inc. – in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. These companies are joining forces to promote biodiversity and catalyze systemic change and have committed to take tangible actions, on an individual and collective basis, to develop solutions for protecting and enhancing biodiversity in agricultural systems and to reporting transparently on progress and impact. Learn more here.
Look for ESMC at . . .
World Food Prize
The week of October 14 at World Food Prize Events – ESMC Executive Director, Debbie Reed, can be found in Des Moines participating in various events, including moderating a panel called “Facing the Greatest Challenge of Our Time: Agriculture’s Role in Impacting Climate Change” at the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium.
Environmental Markets and Finance Summit
October 29–31 at the Environmental Markets and Finance Summit – ESMC team member, Bruce Knight, will be moderating a panel on “Getting to Scale: Insurance,” and Debbie Reed will be participating in a panel on “Next Generation Approaches.” Further information about the Summit, hosted by Forest Trends and the Alliance for Environmental Markets & Investments, in Washington, DC, may be found here.
National FFA Convention
October 31 at the National FFA Convention – Bruce Knight will be in Indianapolis as part of a panel on incentivizing farmers and ranchers to invest in soil health.
2019 Sustainable Agriculture Summit
November 20–21 – ESMC team members will be participating in the Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Indianapolis. Over 500 food and agriculture supply chain leaders, including many ESMC members and partners, will gather for this year’s meeting to explore key drivers in defining and advancing sustainability across the industry. Standard registration rates end October 28; further information may be found here.
Other News of Note
Value of Compost in Carbon Capture
Results of a 19-year study conducted by researchers at the University of California Davis suggest that compost may play a larger role in building soil carbon than once thought, and it also highlights the importance of soil depth and raises questions about how soil carbon measurements are taken. The study, recently published in the journal Global Change Biology, compared carbon levels across various cropping systems, including conventional, conventional with cover crops, and application of compost alongside cover crops. Read more from Civil Eats (via Science Alert) here.
Climate Works Foundation Releases Strategy Brief Prosperity for All: How Climate Change Mitigation Grantmaking Supports Sustainable Development, a strategy brief released by the Climate Works Foundation, highlights insights and grant-making strategies for the philanthropic community on how to support achieving global climate and sustainable development targets. The Strategy Brief may be downloaded here.