September 2022 ESMC Newsletter
ESMC is a Partner in Five USDA Climate-Smart Commodity Grant Awards
ESMC is an implementing partner in five of the awarded US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Climate-Smart Commodity Grants that were announced earlier this month. Our participation in these grants will allow ESMC to work with partners to further build climate smart commodity capacity and scale in US agriculture through our accredited market program – both in our ESMC Eco-Harvest market program and in our Eco-Harvest pilot program (focusing on innovation, research and demonstration). We look forward to continuing to expand opportunities for producer participation in meaningful ways that build a more resilient, climate-smart food and agricultural sector. Read more about these projects. Recently, two of these projects put out press highlighting these partnerships: the Conservation Innovation Fund on the Mid-Atlantic project and the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture.
Update on ESMC RFPs for Project Launch
In July, ESMC and GMI issued a request for proposals (RFP) on launching projects that can generate annual outcomes to meet General Mills’ supply chain commitments and outcomes, and to continue to build out and scale ESMC/ESMRC programing to deliver national scale impacts across the agricultural and food and beverage sector supply chains. We received over 20 proposals from qualified organizations and have reviewed all proposals as we finalize projects for the 2023 year. We will formally announce partners by the end of September.
ESMC Standards: Understanding Additionality and Scope 3 Opportunities for Agriculture
At times, we provide in-depth discussions on certain points that pertain to our work – in this case, how additionality concepts impact opportunities for agriculture to participate in Scope 3 market-based programs.
The GHG Management Institute defines additionality as a determination of whether a proposed activity will produce some “extra good”. Additionality is important in carbon and ecosystem services market programs because there is an assumption that financial investment will result in a specific measurement of a new “extra good” in the form of carbon emissions reductions or drawdowns. Additionality works well with binary decision making; for instance, if I pay to cap a leaking coal mine that would have continued to emit methane without intervention, I have produced “extra good”. Without this payment, emissions from the mine would continue.
Applying these binary additionality concept to Scope 3 Value Chain Interventions in agriculture is generally far more complex. ESMC has found it challenging to provide clear rationale to exclude producers from our Scope 3 program when it is clear additional financial or other incentives to continue regenerative practices are needed. For instance, if a producer tried a regenerative agricultural practice in the past, but didn’t continue with it because it was not profitable, would adoption now based on participation in the market program be additional? Is it fair to say that because a producer has reduced their fertilizer use or planted cover crops in the last two years that they will continue this in perpetuity? We don’t want to generate non-additional outcomes, but we don’t want to create a system that is out of sync with agriculture and agricultural decision making.
To address this, ESMC’s program allows producers who have tried a regenerative practice change for a given production system once in the past. For example, if a producer tried reduced tillage for a crop but ended up not continuing with the practice due to additional cost of equipment, they are still eligible to receive an incentive payment from ESMC’s market program to adopt that regenerative practice again. ESMC will also continue to advocate with guidance and standards bodies for eligibility conditions that make more sense for agriculture and Scope 3 programs, which reduce agricultural supply chain emissions, rather than generate credits that will be used to offset emissions elsewhere. We believe a lookback period should be considered as well.
ESMC/ESMRC is Hiring – Join Our Mighty Team
ESMC/ESMRC is hiring for four positions – two Project Managers, a Protocol and Standards Manager, and a Policy and Engagement Manager. Read more on the positions and apply.
The Project Managers will join our quickly growing team in a virtual office environment and will serve on a team of additional Project Managers to plan, coordinate, implement and lead pilot projects and market projects. They will work collaboratively as part of the larger ESMC/ESMRC team and with ESMC/ESMRC members and stakeholders. These are ideal positions for candidates experienced in working with producers to implement regenerative agricultural practice changes and who are interested in joining a quickly growing and innovative organization. Both Project Manager positions are remote contracted positions within the US.
The Protocol and Standards Manager will work as the ESMC and ESMRC lead responsible for protocol maintenance and refinement and conformance with relevant standards and guidance; and ensure ESMC project and program conformance with protocols. This position also works with external standards and guidance bodies and organizations to ensure ESMC protocols meet established standards and guidance. This is a remote contracted position within the US.
The ESMC/ESMRC Policy and Member Engagement Manager will serve as ESMC/ESMRC’s lead on public policy issues that are relevant to ESMC/ESMRC’s mission and vision and the success of our agricultural ecosystem services market program. The Policy and Member Engagement Manager will identify public policy opportunities, obstacles, and barriers to a fully optimized ecosystem services market program and work to engage our members and stakeholders to achieve beneficial outcomes. The position is a contract position based in Washington DC.
ESMC in the News
The Farmers Trying to Restore Life to America’s Stressed Soils as Climate Change Bites
Reuters (September 14)
“Soils should look like black cottage cheese,” says North Dakota farmer Gabe Brown. Brown runs a 5,000-acre farm and ranch, but he is far from a typical midwestern farmer. A pioneer of the regenerative agriculture movement in the United States, Brown is on the road “280 days a year”, doing talks, liaising with other farmers and stakeholders, and imparting what he knows to anyone who will listen. The General Mills and ESMC partnership is highlighted in the article. Read the full article.
Creating Opportunities for Biodiversity Credits
Progressive Forage (August 29)
As more producers adopt precision technology to optimize productive acres and understand what land is less productive, they can make informed decisions about managing marginal areas – which may be ideal for biodiversity plantings. Read the full article.
Look For ESMC At….
National Association of State Conservation Agencies (NASCA) 2022 Annual Meeting; October 23 – 26, 2022 in Nashville, TN
The NASCA Annual Meeting provides the opportunity for State Agency officials to gather with their colleagues and share ideas, innovation, strategies, and data. The meeting also brings in some of the most cutting-edge professionals in the business to share innovation and experience on a variety of conservation issues. ESMC’s Director of Partnerships & Project Development, Alana Pacheco, will participate in a panel at NASCA’s meeting on October 26. The panel, Ecosystem Services – Enlisting the Private Sector, will highlight ESMC’s work in ecosystem services and partnerships with the private sector. Read more and register.
VERGE 22; October 25 – 27, 2022 at the San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA
VERGE 22 is the leading climate tech event accelerating solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time. Join thousands of leaders — from business, government, solution providers and startups — working together to address the climate crisis across six strategic areas: clean energy, sustainable transportation, carbon removal, regenerative food systems, net-zero buildings, and the startup ecosystem. ESMC’s Director of Product and Business Development, Jack Jeworski, will participate in a roundtable discussion at the event. Read more and register.
ESMC Member and Funder News
New Partnership Aims for 2 Million Acres of Regenerative Agriculture Practices
The Gazette (September 20)
ESMC Founding Circle Member ADM and ESMC Legacy Partner member PepsiCo are partnering to expand regenerative agriculture practices across 2 million acres of cropland by 2030. Efforts in Iowa will focus near Cedar Rapids and Clinton, where ADM’s facilities are located. Regenerative agriculture refers to farming practices that help restore the health and biodiversity of topsoil — in which most of the world’s food is grown. Read the full article.
Field to Market Releases New Report on Member Climate Commitments
Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture™ (an ESMC Legacy Partner member) released the third edition of its annual report, Climate Action in U.S. Agriculture: A Compendium of Field to Market Member Climate Commitments, showcasing an increase in climate commitments across Field to Market’s diverse membership sectors. The report presents an annual snapshot of climate commitments made by 117 Field to Market member organizations, representing an increase from the 100 commitments published in the previous report.
Other News of Note
U.S. Must Cut Agricultural Emissions by 23% and Boost Forest Carbon Storage by 43% to Meet Climate Goals
EDF (September 21)
The U.S. has committed to cut national emissions in half by 2030. It can’t achieve that goal without agriculture, which currently emits more than 10% of the country’s annual emissions. Until now, details about how to cut agricultural emissions — without compromising food security or producer livelihoods — were unclear. Ambitious Climate Mitigation Pathways for U.S. Agriculture and Forestry: Vision for 2030, a new report from Environmental Defense Fund with economic analysis from ICF, provides a bold but achievable roadmap for how farms, ranches and forests can get the U.S. 17% of the way toward its 2030 goal. Read the full article.
Farm and Food Investors Face $150 Billion Loss on Climate Change, Report Says
Reuters (September 20)
Top farming and food firms could lose up to a quarter of their value by 2030 if they do not adapt to new government policies and consumer behavior tied to climate change, United Nations-affiliated campaigners said in a new report. Read the full article.
The Field Report: The USDA Steps Up Its Investments in Regional Food Systems
Civil Eats (September 7)
Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack explains the agency’s new coordination centers, plus landmark food and farm labor legislation in California, and more. Read the full article.
Tackling the Scope 3 Challenge
Climate Week NYC (September 6)
Measuring and tracking Scope 3 emissions may be tricky, but companies don’t need to do everything at once to make meaningful progress. When it comes to reducing a company’s Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions, supply chain managers face a daunting task. Scope 3 emissions are both large (making up 65–95% of most companies’ carbon impact) and indirect—a consequence of a company’s activities outside its direct control. This can make estimating and tracking them, let alone reporting them, seem devilishly complicated. Read the full report.