September 2023 ESMC Newsletter
FFAR Renews ESMC Partnership to Grow Ecosystem Services Market Program
ESMC is pleased to announce that the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) has made an additional investment of $5.15 million in ESMRC, our research arm. This investment is for research that creates sound social, economic, and environmental outcomes to benefit producers, local communities, supply chain companies and consumers through the scope and scale expansion of Eco-Harvest. ESMC and our members are matching the award for a total $10.3 million research investment. This additional investment follows FFAR’s initial $10.3 million award in 2019; at that time, ESMC and its members matched FFAR’s grant for a total investment of $20.6 million in the research program.
With this grant renewal, ESMRC will conduct the research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities that facilitate Eco-Harvest participating in all major U.S. agricultural regions; expand the crops and livestock production systems it supports; develop incentives to increase in-field biodiversity; and improve program access to and engagement with traditionally underserved producers and their communities.
ESMC’s Executive Director Debbie Reed said, “FFAR’s leadership in cutting-edge public-private partnerships was essential to help establish and launch Eco-Harvest. As we expand our ecosystem services program through this FFAR investment, we will utilize the successful approach developed in our initial FFAR grant – conducting real-world pilot and demonstration projects – to ensure our program incentivizes producers to adopt regenerative agriculture, meets the needs of corporations working to reduce their supply chain footprints and creates measurable beneficial outcomes for society.” Read the full release.
ESMC Has Job Openings for Policy Lead and Grant Writer
If you or someone you know would like to join our team, ESMC is currently seeking a Policy and Engagement Manager and a Grant Writer. Find more information and application details for these two positions on our website.
ESMC seeks an experienced Grant Writer to identify, develop, and manage grant applications, ensure compliance with grant requirements, and foster relationships with potential funders. Read more on this remote position and apply.
We are also seeking a Policy and Member Engagement Manager to serve as our organization’s lead on public policy issues that are relevant to our mission and the success of Eco-Harvest. 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 achieve beneficial outcomes. This position is based in Washington DC. Read more on this position and apply.
Look for ESMC At…..
OpTIS 4.0: New National Baseline Data for Climate Smart Ag Webinar
Today September 27, 12pm EDT, Virtual
Regrow Ag, The Nature Conservancy, and CTIC are about to launch Version 4.0 of the Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS), including new data covering conservation practices on croplands across all 48 contiguous US states, as well as expanding the analysis to perennial grasslands and grazing systems. This new national dataset will be an ideal source of baseline information for climate smart ag projects. ESMC’s Debbie Reed will speak at the webinar. Regrow Ag is a technical contractor at ESMC while The Nature Conservancy and CTIC are both ESMC members. Register for the meeting.
Oct. 24 – 26, San Jose, CA
VERGE23 is the leading climate tech event accelerating solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time. It is the center of gravity for the climate community — leaders from business, government, solution providers and startups — working together to address the climate crisis across the six key programs that comprise the event: Buildings, Carbon, Energy, Food, Startups and Transport. ESMC is proud to be a Community Partner of this event; as part of this partnership, registrants can use the code V23ESMC for 10% off All-Access Pass registration. Additionally, Jack Jeworski, ESMC’s Chief Product and Business Officer will attend. Learn more about the event and register.
2023 ASA, CSSA, SSSA International Annual Meeting
October 29 – November 1, St. Louis, MO
The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America, and the Soil Science Society of America (all ESMC Legacy Partner members) will jointly host the premier gathering of ideas, solutions, and innovation from across the field of environmental sciences. The Annual Meeting is equal parts science, networking, collaboration, and camaraderie and welcomes emerging learners and leaders from industry, government agencies, and academic institutions to explore advances in agronomic, crop, and soil sciences. ESMRC’s research team, Chris Smallwood and Will Lytle will attend. Learn more about the event and register.
Transform Food USA 2023: Accelerating Innovation and Collaboration for a Sustainable and Resilient Food
November 2 – 3, Minneapolis, MN
Reuters Events announces the launch of Transform Food 2023, a premier event dedicated to accelerating innovation and collaboration within the global food and agriculture industry. The event will take place on November 2-3 at the prestigious Marquette Hotel Minneapolis and will challenge 120 of the world’s most influential food decision makers to tackle the structural barriers impeding transformation at scale and unlock a viable roadmap to a net positive food future for all. ESMC’s Debbie Reed is a speaker and ESMC is a Strategic Partner at this event. Learn more and register.
2nd Annual Expanding Markets Conference
November 7 – 8, Billings, MT
The Expanding Markets Conference is a one-of-a-kind gathering where ranchers can rub shoulders with industry experts and absorb some serious knowledge about the future of regenerative ranching. ESMC’s Chief Scientist Chris Smallwood will present on Other Income Opportunities – Ecosystem Services & Carbon. Read more and register.
The Future of Climate Action: How to Tackle Scope 3 GHGs
November 8 – 9, Washington, DC
This two-day climate conference will focus entirely on the practical action business can take to tackle Scope 3 emissions. The event will highlight leading company practices and assess how business transformation, supply chain innovation, and low-carbon solutions can deliver results on the ground. The focus throughout will remain on the practical steps business can take to engage key actors, decarbonize supply chains, and achieve net zero. ESMC’s Debbie Reed will attend. Read more and register.
ESMC In the News
Greenwashing or Greening Agriculture? Food Companies Developing Efforts to Prevent Carbon in Soil from Leaking into the Atmosphere
Genetic Literacy Project (September 11)
It’s well established that certain conservation practices, like no-tillage, cover cropping, and rotational grazing, can boost the amount of carbon soil stores. But scientists are still understanding how factors like soil type, climate, previous land management practices, and water availability impact just how much carbon is stored, and under what management conditions. This article quotes ESMC’s Debbie Reed and highlights work done by ESMC Founding Circle member General Mills and Legacy Partner member OpenTEAM to support farmers with practice implementation and how programs work through permanence issues. Read the full article.
Climate-Smart Ag and Carbon Credits
Progressive Farmer (September 7)
USDA rolled out the $3.1 billion Partnership for Climate-Smart Commodities without solving one of the vexing problems that has affected farmers with carbon credit programs: How to deal with the question of “additionality,” which means the farmer is taking steps to sequester carbon or reduce emissions that would not happen without the sale of the carbon credits. That additionality question still hangs out there as projects around the country look to enroll as many as 60,000 farms and more than 25 million acres. ESMC’s Debbie Reed is quoted throughout the article.
ESMC Member and Funder News
Soil Health Institute and Cargill Partner to Advance Water Stewardship Through Improved Soil Health
Yahoo Finance News (September 14)
The Soil Health Institute (an ESMC Legacy Partner member) and Cargill (an ESMC Founding Circle member) are coming together to advance implementation of regenerative agriculture practices through the promotion of water stewardship within agricultural supply chains. This 3-year, $3 million partnership will equip farmers, conservation planners, and sustainability experts across North America with innovative tools to enhance drought resilience, improve soil health, and encourage sustainable water use. Read the full article.
Mars Updates Net-Zero Roadmap, Sets New 2030 Target
Just Food (September 14)
Mars, an ESMC Legacy Partner member, has issued a fresh set of net-zero pledges, the second time in under two years the US giant has updated its pledges on emissions. The M&Ms sweets and Royal Canin pet-food owner wants to cut carbon emissions by 50% – or by roughly 15m metric tons – by 2030 across its full value chain. The new target, reviewed by the Science Based Targets Initiative, is linked to a 2015 baseline. Read the full article.
Danone Launches Global Strategic Partnerships Program to Enable Renew Danone
Danone (September 12)
ESMC Legacy Partner member Danone launched a Partner for Growth program to drive greater innovation and efficiencies to unlock sustainable growth, from new product ideation to the moment it is in the consumers’ hands. Partner for Growth is focused on four interconnected strategic pillars that will unlock growth for Danone and its chosen partners through: emerging science and technology, precision capacity creation, cost competitiveness, and sustainability. Read the full release.
Other News of Note
Soil Carbon, Nitrogen, Soil Fertility and Climate Change Are Tightly Linked, New Research Shows
Phys.org (September 26)
In a first-of-its-kind long-term study, a collaborative group of scientists, including senior author Ashley Keiser, assistant professor of soil ecology at the University Of Massachusetts Amherst’s Stockbridge School of Agriculture, have discovered that soil carbon determines whether mineralized nitrogen is available in the soil as ammonium, or further transformed into either nitrates that are easily lost to runoff and contribute to toxic algal blooms or nitrous oxide, which is 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide at warming the atmosphere. The research, published recently in Biogeochemistry Letters, additionally shows that the relationship between soil carbon and nitrogen seems to hold across ecosystems, from the tundra to the subtropics. Read the full article.
‘You’ve Got to Do It as an Evolution Rather Than a Revolution’: Pepsico on Adapting Sustainability in Field and Factory
Food Navigator (September 26)
For a big company such as PepsiCo, sustainability is not only complex, but also a multi-layered process. Tackling sustainability across different geographies, in both factories and in agriculture, and across scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions, requires a multi-pronged, highly adaptable approach. Read the full article.
Farmer Perspectives on Carbon Markets Incentivizing Agricultural Soil Carbon Sequestration
NPJ Climate Action (September 25)
Climate change mitigation efforts to achieve net-zero emissions require not only decreasing current greenhouse gas emissions, but also deploying negative emissions technologies. Soil organic carbon sequestration in agricultural lands is one such negative emissions strategy, currently being incentivized predominantly through voluntary carbon offset markets. Through semi-structured interviews, the authors assess both conventional and organic farmer perspectives on soil carbon offset programs that have been created in the United States since 2017. Read the full article.
Actor Nick Offerman Is the Face of Cover-Crop Advocacy Campaign
AgDaily (September 22)
The Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) has chosen actor Nick Offerman for a new soil campaign. Offerman comes from a farming family in Minooka, Illinois, and the NRDC is using him to promote a push toward using what it deems to be regenerative agriculture. The new campaign is called Face Plant, and it’s pretty obvious from the start why that double entendre was chosen. Read the full article.
Food Companies Aren’t All Walking the Talk on Regenerative Agriculture, Says FAIRR Investor Network
Ag Funder News (September 20)
There’s a lot of talk, but rather less action on regenerative agriculture from some publicly listed agrifood companies, according to a new report from investor network FAIRR. Two thirds of publicly listed agrifood companies that have talked publicly about the potential of regenerative agriculture “have not put in place any formal quantitative company-wide targets to achieve those ambitions,” according to FAIRR. Read the full article.
Row Crop Insurance Prevents Some Farmers from Adapting to Climate Change
Civil Eats (September 20)
The Federal Crop Insurance Program helps steer the direction of U.S. agriculture. But advocates and farmers say its policies have often failed to benefit the most climate-adaptive farms—and penalizes farmers for adopting some climate-friendly strategies. Read the full article.
Fall Forage and Strip Grazing: Is it Worth it?
Farm and Ranch Guide (September 8)
Ranchers who are cleaning up their winter wheat harvest may want to consider planting a cover crop that can be grazed by cattle, both for the boost it brings to the soil and cattle production. Brock and Heidi Terrell were part of a two-year study by the University of Nebraska on the effectiveness of planting and grazing a cover crop. The Terrells have irrigated farm ground and they also lease/own grass for their cow herd. “The cover crop was a great feed resource for the cattle and we felt like we were gaining in how we used our ground,” Brock said. “We started with a continuous grazing system with access to the whole field, but as we learned more, we found that utilization was one of our weak spots.” Read the full article.
Ag Tech Can Cut Billions of Tons of Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Cornell (September 6)
As the Earth’s human population grows, greenhouse gas emissions from the world’s food system are on track to expand. A new study demonstrates that state-of-the-art agricultural technology and management can not only reduce that growth but eliminate it altogether by generating net negative emissions – reducing more greenhouse gas than food systems add. In fact, employing additional agricultural technology could result in more than 13 billion tons of net negative greenhouse gas emissions each year, as the world seeks to avoid dangerous climate extremes, according to new research. Read the full article.
Agriculture Study on Cover Crops Mixtures Delivers Unexpected Results
Phys.Org (September 6)
Farmers usually plant cover crops after harvesting their main crop to prevent soil erosion and nutrient leaching. The roots of these crops also stabilize the structure of the soil. It had been assumed that a mixture of different cover crops would result in particularly intensive rooting. However, a recent study carried out by the Universities of Bonn, Kassel and Göttingen found only limited evidence that this is the case. Instead, mixed cover crops grow thinner roots than when just one single type of cover crop is planted. This unexpected result documents how little is understood about the interactions between plant roots. Read the full article.
A Billion-Dollar Plan to Fix Farm Emissions Might Make Things Worse
Wired (September 5)
Agriculture is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions, so the US is getting serious about reform. But some scientists say current efforts are misguided. Read the full article.