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Ecosystem Services Market Consortium Monthly Newsletter November, 2019

ESMRC Working Group Leaders, Members, Science Advisors Announced
As announced in the October newsletter, the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) Working Groups will enhance the scientific underpinnings for the voluntary ecosystems services market that ESMC will launch in 2022. The ESMRC is the research arm of the ESMC, and its four working groups are tasked with overseeing and guiding research, development, demonstration and deployment needs to increase rigor and reduce costs for the fully functioning science-based, standards-based, and outcomes-based ESMC marketplace for agriculture. Working group Co-Leads, Members and Science Advisors are as follows:

Working Group 1: Quantification of Soil C and Net GHG in Protocols, Pilots and Certification – Co-leads: Ryan Sirolli of Cargill and Chris Adamo of Danone North America. Members: Ashley Allen, Mars, Inc.; Maria Bowman, Soil Health Partnership; Jamie Burr, Tyson Foods; Mike Crist, Tatanka Resources; Paul Duncan, Anuvia Plant Nutrients; Sara Fox, Nutrien; Jaff Hanratty/Steve Rosenzweig, General Mills; Tom Stoddard, Native Energy; and Stephen Wood, The Nature Conservancy. Science Advisors: Mark Ritchie, Syracuse University; Stephen Del Grosso, USDA Agricultural Research Service and Mariko Thorbecke, Quantis.

Working Group 2: Quantification of Water Quality and Water Quantity in Protocols, Pilots and Certification – Co-leads: Kris Johnson of The Nature Conservancy and Alex Echols of the Campbell Foundation. Members: Keira Havens, Pivot Bio; Michelle Perez, American Farmland Trust; Heidi Peterson, Sand County Foundation; and Truke Smoor, Cargill. Science advisors: Peter Kyveryga, Iowa Soybean Association; Sally Flis, The Fertilizer Institute and Paul Reig, World Resources Institute.

Working Group 3: Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) Technologies; MRV Platform; and Gridded Land Ledger – Co-leads: Jason Weller of Land O’Lakes and Mike Komp of the Conservation Technology Information Center. Members: Ben Brown, Arva Intelligence; Chad Ellis, Noble Research Institute; Allison Grantham, Grow Well Consulting; Kristen McKnight, NativeEnergy; and Rachel Orf, National Corn Growers Association. Science Advisors: Daniel Northrup, Benson Hill; William Fox III, Texas A&M and Jia Deng, University of New Hampshire.

Working Group 4: Soil Carbon Research to Quantify and Achieve Ecosystem Service Capacities of Soils – Co-leads: Hannah Birgé of The Nature Conservancy and Cristine Morgan of the Soil Health Institute. Members: Dan Froehlich, Anuvia Plant Nutrients; Jacob Penner, NativeEnergy; and Catherine Steward, USDA Agricultural Research Service. Science advisors: Jen Moore-Kucera, American Farmland Trust; Ron Turco, Purdue University and Mahdi Al-Kaisi, Iowa State University.

ESMC Members Gather for Second Meeting in Washington, DC, this Week 
The second convening of the ESMC members occurs Thursday and Friday, November 14 and 15, in Washington, DC. Representatives from our more than 40 member organizations across the agricultural supply chain and value chain will continue to align on high priority needs to establish the fully functioning ESMC market by 2022. Members will review existing ESMC Protocols and discuss plans to further refine protocols. Pilot project planning and implementation will also be discussed. Working Group Co-leads will report on progress and next steps in their plans and activities.

Welcome New Members 
ESMC is pleased to announce six new members to the Consortium! Syngenta has joined as a new Founding Circle member along with five new Legacy Partner members, including: Almond Board of California; Arizona State University; Arva Intelligence; Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture; and Open Team. With these additions, ESMC numbers 41 members – 15 Founding Circle members and 25 Legacy Partners – Thank you to all our members and collaborators for joining in our public-private stakeholder driven project!

ESMC Joins Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture 
ESMC is excited to be a new member of Field to Market and looking forward to continued opportunities for engagement and collaboration as a member of the Civil Society Sector.

ESMC Spotlighted in the Financial Times
In a Special Report “Food Sustainability,” an article in the London-based Financial Times identified the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) as an advocate for a market-based approach to sustainable farming and highlights our work as a U.S. coalition to develop an Ecosystem Services Market due to launch in 2022. Read the article, Food production that does not cost the earth: Market-based tools to make an environmental supply chain financially viable, by Sarah Murray, Financial Times (September 25, 2109), here. It is through the strength of our coalition and the efforts of all ESMC members that the market will succeed.

ESMC Member News

American Farmland Trust and Danone North America Testify at House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis
Two ESMC member organizations testified at an October 30 hearing held by the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on the topic of “Solving the Climate Crisis: Opportunities in Agriculture.” Jennifer Moore-Kucera of American Farmland Trust and Tina Owns of Danone North America were two of four speakers at the hearing providing testimony. View the full hearing or read the opening statement and full testimonies here.

ESMC and ESMC Member Speak at U.S. EPA Listening Session 
ESMC team member Bruce Knight and Steve Rowe of ESMC member company, Newtrient, presented oral comments at the U.S. EPA “Water Quality Trading under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System” Listening Session in Washington, DC on October 21. Knight spoke about the ESMC effort and expressed appreciation for EPA’s policy advancements to support trading mechanisms for water quality.

ESMC Members collaborate to Launch PED Talks Video Series
Do you know what a PED is? ESMC members including the Conservation Technology Information Center, Soil Health Institute, Soil Health Partnership, the Soil Science Society of America (of the Tri-Societies), and USDA NRCS have collaborated with the Soil and Water Conservation Society to launch a series of PED Talks on soil health. Soil peds are aggregated particles of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. PED talks combine various soil-related topics to explain and highlight progress on ensuring healthy soils in the future. Read more here. Visit the PED Talks channel on YouTube here.

Look for ESMC at . . . 
November 13 is the date of the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research (FFAR) “Dialogue on Agricultural Data Ownership and Maximizing Value” in San Antonio. Caroline Wade of the ESMC team will be making remarks at this event focused on addressing challenges and opportunities related to data ownership and the advancement of policies and practices that address needs of all stakeholders.

Field to Market 
November 19 – Stay tuned for an ESMC award announcement during lunch at the Field to Market Meeting in Indianapolis! Don’t miss it!

2019 Sustainable Agriculture Summit
November 20–21 – ESMC team members, Bruce Knight and Debbie Reed, 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. Debbie Reed will serve on the panel, Driving for Economic and Environmental Benefits through Climate Smart Agriculture, on November 20th.

Northeast Region Agribusiness & CCA Conference
December 3 – 5 at the Northeast Region Agribusiness & CCA Conference in Syracuse, New York.  ESMC team member, Tom Driscoll, will speak on the opening panel, Emerging Topics in Agriculture – Challenges Ahead. In his presentation, “Creating a Market for Stewardship,” he will speak about opportunities for farmers and CCAs to participate in the ESMC.

Other News of Note 

Ceres Report Calls for Major Food Companies to Use Water More Efficiently
Ceres recently released the third edition of Feeding Ourselves Thirsty. While highlighting improved scores in water management practice of major food companies, it also calls for companies to adopt far stronger practices to reduce their demands and impacts on limited water resources, calling corporate action insufficient in an increasingly water-stressed world. Read more here. The full report and executive summary may be downloaded here.

Dual Role of Deep Soils in Global Carbon Cycle
A new study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst shows that deep soils both sequester and release carbon. The study explores the impacts of environmental changes on deep soil carbon and the role of deep roots as a weathering agent that breaks rocks and minerals, resulting in both the potential for increased carbon storage at depth but also release of stored carbon from minerals. Researchers point out that “findings will have global ramifications for agricultural stakeholders that have held up the benefits of carbon sequestration in soils as their contribution to fighting climate change.” Read more here about this study that was published in October in Science Direct Journal.

ESMC Names Science Advisors, Adds Six New Members

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) today announced selection of science advisors to provide scientific expertise to the four working groups within the Consortium’s research arm, known as the Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC). Working group co-leads were also named. The ESMRC working groups are focused on investments in research, development, demonstration and deployment to increase rigor and reduce costs for the fully functioning science-based, standards-based, and outcomes-based ESMC marketplace for agriculture.

The working groups’ efforts will continue to enhance the scientific underpinning for the voluntary ecosystems services market that ESMC will launch in 2022. The ESMC market is a voluntary, market-based approach to incentivize farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that provide quantified ecosystem benefits. ESMC is pilot testing its protocols on 50,000 acres of ranch land and farmland in the Southern Great Plains and is launching additional pilots in 2020. Read the full press release here.

Soil Health Institute Releases Annual Meeting Report, Video

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released its 4th Annual Meeting Report ”SOIL HEALTH: A Global Imperative.”

During the SHI Annual Meeting, which took place July 16-18, 2019, in Sacramento, California, soil health leaders discussed the roles farmers, ranchers and foresters play as key drivers of positive change through their investments in soils. In addition, participants discussed how stakeholders, including manufacturers, conservation-focused foundations and policy makers, can contribute to advancing soil health globally.

Currently, SHI is evaluating more than 30 different indicators of soil health in order to provide the agricultural industry with a short list of the most effective measurements farmers and ranchers can use to improve soil health. Moreover, Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO, described projects to evaluate the profitability of soil health systems on both farm and research settings; a new farmer-led soil health training program; and research on how soil health relates to water quality, carbon sequestration, and productivity.

During the meeting, soil health leaders discussed new provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, which will impact the U.S. soil health movement. They also reviewed soil health practices that provide a demonstrated return on investment. Finally, participants looked towards the future, identifying benefits that may arise from better understanding the soil microbiome, soil health-human health relationships, and others.

The annual meeting report is available here.

Videos of annual meeting presentations are available here.

New PED Talks Video Series Digs into Soil Health

West Lafayette, Ind., Oct. 29, 2019 — A series of 10-to-15-minute, science-centered “PED Talks” on soil health has been posted on YouTube. Soil peds are aggregated particles of sand, silt, clay and organic matter. Like their namesake, PED Talks combine soil-related topics including explanations of soil health, how we can improve it, and the progress that’s being made to ensure we have the healthy soils necessary to feed, clothe and fuel the world in the future.

The PED Talks series was created by the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC), Soil Health Institute (SHI), Soil Health Partnership (SHP), Soil Science Society of America (SSSA), Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) and U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

The inaugural PED Talks include a video introduction from NRCS Chief Matt Lohr and the following presentations:

  • Shannon Cappellazzi of SHI on “Soil Health Diagnosed as You’ve Never Heard Before”
  • Alex Fiock of SHP on “Focusing on Soil Health from the Ground Up”
  • Barry Fisher of the NRCS Soil Health Division and Betsy Bower of Ceres Solutions Cooperative presenting “Partnering to Enhance Soil Health” and
  • Jane Hardisty, former NRCS Indiana State Conservationist on “You Are Changing the World!”

NRCS Chief Matt Lohr said, “People say that clean water is the key to life on the planet, but the very same thing can be said about healthy soil – it is literally the foundation to productive agriculture, balanced wildlife habitats, and an overall healthy environment for all. These PED Talks are not only useful for our nation’s agricultural producers, but for our educators, policy makers and the general public. We all benefit from good soil health!”

Bruce Knight, a former NRCS chief, was a key collaborator on the series’ development.

“These PED talks are engaging and interesting to a wide range of audiences, from farmers to consumers, conservation organization staffers and people throughout the food production and value chain, because soil health is a goal that unifies us all,” Knight said. “They’re entertaining, they’re informative, and they deliver insight from some of the country’s leaders in the science and practice of improving soil health.”

Participating conservation-oriented organizations are also excited about the talks.

Mike Komp, Executive Director of CTIC, explained, “The PED Talks series brings context, insight and even humor to soil health and explains why healthy soil is so vital to feeding the world. Soil health is essential to keeping our agricultural lands productive and profitable, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with such great organizations to help get the word out.”

SHP Senior Director John Mesko said, “Through strong outcome-based collaborations, we have seen greater awareness and adoption of soil health practices. SHP is proud to be part of the launch of the PED Talks to continue providing resources to farmers to ensure they have access to the best information to make the right decisions for their farm.”

Said Clare Lindahl, CEO of SWCS, “We see PED Talks as an opportunity for the nation’s conservation professionals to share their stories about soil health. It is through these stories we can learn from one another’s experiences and together advance the art and science of soil and water conservation.”

Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of SHI, added, “Soil health is the powerhouse of sustainability and the foundation of regenerative agriculture. Healthy soil improves resiliency to flood and drought, filters our water, and is an important key to improving carbon storage. We’re eager to share information with everyone who has an interest in soil health.”

Shannon Cappellazzi, Soil Health Institute
Jane Hardisty, retired US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

Three of the talks were recorded at this year’s SWCS annual conference in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and one was recorded at SHI’s annual meeting in Sacramento, California. All the talks are available on a PED Talks YouTube channel. The partners plan to continue recording additional presentations and releasing them on the PED Talks channel, with a focus on the next generation of scientists and farmer/innovators.

Click here to visit the PED Talks channel on YouTube.

About the Conservation Technology Information Center

The Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) serves as a clearinghouse of information on sustainable agricultural systems that are productive, profitable and preserve natural resources. CTIC brings together farmers, policy makers, regulators, academic researchers, agribusiness leaders, conservation group personnel, farm media and other interested stakeholders.

About the Soil Health Institute

The Soil Health Institute is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.

About the Soil Health Partnership

The Soil Health Partnership is a farmer-led initiative that fosters transformation in agriculture through improved soil health. Administered by the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), the partnership has more than 220 working farms enrolled in 16 states. SHP’s mission is to utilize science and data to partner with farmers who are adopting conservation agricultural practices that improve the economic and environmental sustainability of the farm. For more information, visit

About the Soil Science Society of America

The Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, WI, SSSA is the professional home for 6,000+ members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling, and wise land use.

About the Soil and Water Conservation Society

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) is the premier international organization for professionals who practice and advance the science and art of natural resource conservation.

About the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service

NRCS provides farmers, ranchers and forest managers with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land. Common technical assistance includes: resource assessment, practice design and resource monitoring.

For more information, contact:

CTIC (Mike Komp,

SWCS (Clare Lindahl,

SHI (Wayne Honeycutt,

SHP (John Mesko,

SSSA (Luther Smith,

NRCS (Bianca Moebius-Clune,

Nestle, Kellogg among companies forming biodiversity initiative

Nestle S.A., Kellogg Co. and Danone S.A. are among 19 companies that have partnered with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development to launch an initiative to protect and restore biodiversity within their supply chains and product portfolios. The coalition, called “One Planet Business for Biodiversity,” launched Sept. 23 at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.

Also known as the OP2B, the initiative will focus on three pillars: scaling up regenerative agriculture practices, boosting cultivated biodiversity and diets through product portfolios, and eliminating deforestation/enhancing the management, restoration and protection of natural ecosystems.

“The global food and agricultural ecosystem is critically dependent on biodiversity: from soil regeneration through to water filtration, pest control and pollination, among many of the other building blocks of life on earth,” said Emmanuel Faber, chairman and chief executive officer of Paris-based Danone. “According to many recent scientific studies, we have 10 years to reset our course and bend the curve on climate change and wild and cultivated biodiversity loss. We need a collective effort now.”

Other OP2B members are Balbo Group, Barry Callebaut, Firmenich, Google, Jacobs Douwe Egberts, Kering, Livelihood Funds, L’Oreal, Loblaw Cos. Ltd., Mars, Inc., Migros Ticaret, McCain Foods, Royal DSM, Symrise AG, Unilever and Yara International ASA. The 19 companies sell products in more than 120 countries and have combined total revenues of about $500 billion.

Read the full story here:


ESMC Finds Potential Demand for Ecosystem Market Credits Approaches $14 Billion
Potential purchases of U.S. ecosystem credits from agriculture could be as high as $13.9 billion according to an IHS Markit economic assessment released today by the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (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.

Report Analyzes Farm Bill Impact on Soil Health

The Soil Health Institute (SHI) and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) today released the Impact of 2018 Farm Bill Provisions on Soil Health, a comprehensive review of each new provision and its role in advancing soil health, the foundation for regenerative and sustainable agriculture. The report also compares funding for soil health in the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills.

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (i.e., 2018 Farm Bill) includes multiple changes to existing programs. New provisions provide additional incentives to farmers and ranchers to implement soil health-promoting practices such as cover crops and crop rotations. The 2018 Farm Bill also includes mandates for data collection and reporting on soil health, along with enhancements that provide soil health support for beginning, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers and ranchers.

“Several additions have significant potential to benefit soil health,” noted Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, SHI President and CEO.  “Soil health has been designated as a priority in managing the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).  More soil health field trials and demonstrations are also supported, both of which are important for increasing adoption.  Changes to the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) make it more likely that landowners will continue to improve soil health after their CRP contract ends.”

“The report provides a detailed summary of almost 60 provisions that may affect soil health,” said Mr. Ferd Hoefner, NSAC Senior Strategic Advisor.  “It will be a valuable time saver for those who wish to gain information quickly.  For example, the report provides a brief description of each provision, how it impacts soil health, and links to the respective USDA agency responsible for implementing that provision.  In addition, authorized funding levels for the 2014 and 2018 Farm Bills are compared for several programs in the Conservation, Research, and Forestry titles.”

The report was a joint collaboration authored by Ms. Katie Harrigan of the Soil Health Institute and Ms. Alyssa Charney of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.

For further information, visit

Farmers are adopting regenerative ag practices, but who’s leading the movement?

“The Soil Health Institute recently released a report describing adoption rates for regenerative agriculture practices like no-till drilling and cover cropping using data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The team compared the data to information obtained about regenerative agriculture practices in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

““There has been a 50% increase in cover crop acreage between 2012 and 2017, from 10.3 million acres to 15.4 million acres. Once farmers started adopting these practices, they expanded the practices to more acres,” Sara Eckhouse, executive director of FoodShot Global, told AFN. Soil Health Institute is one of FoodShot’s partners and the duo worked together on FoodShot’s Soil 3.0 Challenge.

“The data is inspiring for Eckhouse and other soil health enthusiasts, as well as helpful when it comes to figuring out where the nascent regenerative agriculture movement needs to head. FoodShot’s lengthy list of prestigious partners includes Rabobank, Rockefeller Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Stone Barns Center for Food and Innovation, Builders’ Initiative, Armonia, alongside a number of venture funds and NGOs. This provides Eckhouse and her team with a powerful network of people who can make real, meaningful change when it comes to bringing regenerative agriculture from the academic realm to actual farmland.”

Read the full story here:

Nominations open for ESMRC Science Advisors

The Ecosystem Services Market Research Consortium (ESMRC) seeks nominations to form an inaugural team of science advisors to participate in ESMRC Working Groups. ESMRC Working Groups will provide expert insight and advice on the ESMRC research and demonstration agenda and activities to develop advanced ecosystem services markets for agriculture.

The submission deadline for nominations of working group science advisors is Friday 13 September 2019. Please click here to access the ESMRC Call for Nominations For Working Group Science Advisors; an ESMRC Working Group Science Advisor Nomination Form; a Bio-sketch form; and additional information on ESMRC Working Groups.

Enhancing the contribution of family farmers to sustainable development

Family farmers need enabling public policies and legal frameworks that will “allow them to adapt and flourish in today’s changing environment” and maximize their contribution to sustainable development, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said on Tuesday.

He made the remarks at the launch of the UN Decade of Family Farming on the sidelines of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York.

The event saw the participation of the heads of FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which lead the implementation of the Decade, co-organizers Costa Rica and France, as well as La Via Campesina, the World Rural Forum and the World Farmers’ Organization among others.

“We need to reform our food systems and link the activities of the Decade of Family Farming with the Decade of Action on Nutrition. Family farmers are the ones who produce healthy foods. They can save us from the epidemic of obesity, and we need them for healthy diets,” Graziano Da Silva said.

Read the full story here: