October 2021 ESMC Newsletter
ESMC Pilot Project News: Missouri Biodiversity Pilot Project Provides Opportunities to Increase Conservation Habitat
Missouri corn and soybean farmers have a new opportunity to expand pollinator-friendly landscapes through a first-of-its-kind pilot project that quantifies and certifies biodiversity credits. The ESMC pilot is launched in partnership with the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, Missouri Department of Conservation, MFA Incorporated and ESMC. The pilot offers farmers an opportunity to participate in an innovative program to earn biodiversity credits along with agricultural carbon and water quality credits as part of ESMC’s national ecosystem services market program. Missouri farmers working to create or enhance pollinator habitat within existing or new field borders, buffers, waterways, or on other non-productive agricultural ground are eligible. Once credits are quantified, verified, and certified, ESMC makes the credits available for purchase to interested buyers. “This two-year pilot project will benefit the natural resources of our state while recognizing the efforts of farmers working to improve sustainability practices on their farms,” said Clayton Light, conservation manager for the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council. “Many of the conservation practices also provide soil health benefits, reduce erosion, improve water quality, and capture carbon in the environment. It is exciting to offer farmers the opportunity to participate in a new, voluntary private market program designed to help improve the land and wildlife habitat for future generations.” Read the full announcement.
ESMC Welcomes Christina Coffman, Executive Assistant
ESMC is pleased to announce that Christina Coffman is joining the organization as the Executive Assistant. She has over 20 years’ experience in corporate America and the nonprofit sector where she learned how to implement transformational leadership in the most bureaucratic and political environments. For the past 11 years, she was a consultant providing innovative organizational leadership focusing on change management, executive management, and training and development. She works with organizations that operate with a higher intelligence and awareness for their employees, their leadership, and their vision. Read more about Christina (and all the ESMC team).
ESMC Podcast Episode #2 Highlights our Innovative Market Program
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 second episode in this series highlights agriculture’s potential to not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also the potential to store carbon and how that benefits offset markets; click here to listen.
Look For ESMC At….
November 4, 1:30-2:15 pm ET: T3 Fertilizer Conference
Join ESMC’s Debbie Reed at the T3 Fertilizer Conference for a presentation entitled Carbon Markets: In-the-Field Carbon Practices. Debbie will be joined by Nutrien’s Sally Flis to discuss the ESMC and Nutrien Carbon Market Pilot Projects. Read more and register.
December 8, 2:45 – 4pm PT: Almond Board Conference, Sacramento, CA
Join ESMC’s Debbie Reed and Jack Jeworski at the Almond Board Conference December 7 – 9, 2021 in Sacramento, CA. This year’s conference theme, Rooted in Success, focuses on the foundation of the almond industry’s growth – strategic market development, innovative research, and accelerated adoption of industry best practices. Read more about the event.
ESMC in the News
Minnesota Farmers Are Getting Paid to Fight Climate Change by Cultivating a New Cash Crop: Carbon
St Cloud Times (October 24)
A new article highlighting ESMC’s pilot program in Minnesota includes interviews with a number of farmers participating in the pilot. For example, farmer Jen Wagner-Lahr likes that her family’s Cold Spring farm will contribute data and useful information to a fledgling carbon market program. Her husband likes that there’s a financial incentive to “do the right thing.” “We prefer to do our practices in a more environmentally responsible way, with sustainability in mind,” Lahr said. “It’s turning out we can do that without necessarily sacrificing the ability to make a living off the farm.” Read the full article.
Producers Using Regenerative Ag Receive Payoffs for Carbon Credits
Western Ag Reporter (October 21)
Climate change, greenhouse gases, and regenerative agriculture aren’t new terms, but they are buzzwords that have become prominent topics of conversation politically and across various industries. The conversation intensified in April when President Biden held a “Leader’s Summit on Climate”. On behalf of the ag industry, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack advocated for “a market-oriented, incentive-based, voluntary system [that] will be effective [and] get us to the same destination” of net zero emissions. Voluntary, incentive-based programs that reward producers for their regenerative ag practices, which focus on carbon sequestration and soil health as a way to reduce GHG’s, are already being implemented, and some have already seen positive impacts. One such program is currently being piloted by ESMC whose “mission is to advance ecosystem service markets that incentivize farmers and ranchers to improve soil health systems that benefit society.” Read the full article.
ESMC Member and Funder News
Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and Soil Health Institute Unveil New U.S. Regenerative Cotton Program
Soil Health Institute (October 26)
The Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation and ESMC Founding Circle member the Soil Health Institute announced a founding grant to launch the Institute’s U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund (USRCF), a unique, farmer-facing, science-based initiative that will support long-term, sustainable cotton production in the United States, with the goal of eliminating one million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) from the atmosphere by 2026. Read the full article.
A Synthesis of Ranch-Level Sustainability Indicators for Land Managers and to Communicate Across the US Beef Supply Chain
Rangeland Ecology & Management (October 21)
Authors from a number of ESMC Founding Circle and Legacy Partner members (including The Nature Conservancy, Field to Market, and World Wildlife Fund) as well as ESMC funders (Noble Research Institute and USDA) have written a publication that synthesizes existing guidance on monitoring and assessing ranch-scale sustainability in the United States and identifies core ecological, social, and economic indicators that could identify well-managed ranching, support adaptive management, and demonstrate producers’ sustainability and continuous improvement to retailers and consumers. Read the full publication.
Voluntary Carbon Markets Hold Promise for Farmers and Ranchers
American Farm Bureau Federation (October 20)
A Market Intel series published by the ESMC Legacy Partner member American Farm Bureau highlights the opportunities, challenges, policy levers and overall operation of agriculture ecosystem credit markets. Read on to learn more.
Attend the 2021 ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting: A Creative Economy for Sustainable Development
The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America, all ESMC Legacy Partner members, will host their annual international scientific meeting November 7-10 in Salt Lake City, UT (with a limited virtual option). The annual event brings together leading and emerging scientific leaders from industry, government agencies, and academic institutions who are all working to advance agronomic, crop and soil sciences. Read more and register here.
Attend the Sustainable Agriculture Summit, November 18 – 19
The Sustainable Agriculture Summit, co-hosted by ESMC Founding Circle member Innovation Center for US Dairy and ESMC Legacy Partner member Field to Market, will take place this year Nov 18 – 19 in Las Vegas, NV with a virtual attendance option. The Summit is the premier sustainability event for agriculture and by agriculture, convening the collective food and agriculture value chain to learn, develop and advance a shared vision for a sustainable and resilient U.S. food system. To learn more, review the agenda, and register, click here.
Other News of Note
Don Lewis Is Reviving the Grain Economy in New York’s Hudson Valley
Civil Eats (October 25)
The heritage wheat wizard is adapting grain varieties to present-day climate conditions, developing a local market, and working to diversify the food system. Read the full article.
North America Can Lead the World on Climate Mitigation, Says Vilsack
Successful Farming (October 22)
The agriculture ministers of Canada, Mexico, and the United States described national initiatives to boost productivity and slow global warming at the World Food Prize symposium last week, with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack saying, “There’s a tremendous opportunity for North America to lead the world.” While he called for being tolerant of different approaches to climate mitigation, Vilsack was clear that in his view, the U.S. high-technology approach is the best. “I believe you don’t have to sacrifice productivity for sustainability, or that you have to sacrifice sustainability for productivity,” said Vilsack. “You can do both.” Read the full article.
The Regenerative Revolution in Food
BBC (October 21)
Farmlands cover half of the Earth’s habitable land, and the global food system produces 21-37% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions from human activity. When fields are worked with heavy machinery, their soils – which store three times as much CO2 as the atmosphere – leach trapped carbon back into the air. Carbon farming, on the other hand, seeks to capture emissions, not create them. The challenge has been to make this form of regenerative farming financially viable, paying landowners to rejuvenate degraded soils by turning their fields into vast CO2 sponges. Read the full article.
NASA Launches Tool That Measures Western Water Loss
US News (October 21)
Last week NASA launched an online platform with information on how much water evaporates into the atmosphere from plants, soils and other surfaces in the U.S. West, data it says could help water managers, farmers and state officials better manage resources in the parched region. Read the full article.
In Sonoma County, ‘Regenerative Agriculture’ Is the Next Big Thing
NY Times (October 19)
Carbon sequestration, pollinator habitat restoration and simple composting: An increasing number of the region’s winegrowers are going beyond sustainability. Here’s how to see, and taste, the fruits of their labors. Read the full article.