Category Archives: Partners’ News

Cargill expands climate change commitments

“With a global footprint and presence in major food and ag supply chains around the globe, Cargill is committed to protecting the earth’s vital natural resources and reducing its environmental impact. In alignment with its climate commitment, Cargill has adopted a Scope 3 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in its global supply chains by 30% per ton of product by 2030.”

This goal aligns with many of Cargill’s customers, who are driving toward similar climate goals. Cargill has also reinforced its intent to prioritize climate through three recent activities aligned with companies around the globe, including pledging to the CEO climate statement, signing on to the We Are Still In coalition to continue supporting the Paris Climate Accord and convening at this week’s UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid.”

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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.

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.

Remote Sensing Technology Drives Conservation Solutions

Today marks the first release of regional-scale data from the Operational Tillage Information System (OpTIS), a new tool that has the potential to unlock conservation solutions for a variety of food and agricultural supply chain stakeholders. These data document the level of adoption of soil health practices for Illinois, Indiana  and Iowa from 2005 to 2018. By the end of July, the same data will be available for the entire Corn Belt—an area extending from eastern Ohio to eastern Kansas and Nebraska, and from the Missouri Bootheel to the Red River Valley of North Dakota.

OpTIS, developed by Applied GeoSolutions (AGS), analyzes remotely sensed images of the landscape, automatically identifying and quantifying the proportion of cropland that is managed with various types of conservation tillage practices and winter cover crops each year. AGS, the Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) have spearheaded the development, testing and application of OpTIS.

“In the past, we have relied on data from cost share programs to measure conservation practice adoption, but we know most farmers implement conservation practices on their own,” said Ben Gleason, sustainable program manager, Iowa Corn Growers Association. “Utilizing remote sensing technology that is ground-truthed allows us to see the entire picture of conservation practice adoption, and the results show that we are making progress.”

Read the Full Story Here:

Massachusetts Healthy Soils Action Plan

Regenerative Design Group has been awarded a contract to lead a robust planning process for protecting and enhancing all soils across Massachusetts. The Project Team includes Linnean Solutions, a Cambridge, MA-based firm that helps communities and organizations reach sustainability and resilience goals; Eric Toensmeier, carbon farming expert and contributor to Project Drawdown; Caro Roszell, Soil Carbon Program Manager at NOFA/Mass; and Marty Dagoberto, Policy Director at NOFA/Mass, and contributor to the proposed MA Healthy Soils Program now being considered by the legislature.

Expanding Support for Healthy Soils

This project was initiated by The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) and the Commission for Conservation of Soil, Water, & Related Resources. Over the past decade, several states have taken on healthy soils initiatives, mostly focused on agricultural lands. This project will learn from those initiatives, and expand the scope to include all land uses in Massachusetts.

Read the full story here:

FFAR Partners with FoodShot Global to Award 3 GroundBreaker Prizes

From the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research:

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON (June 6, 2019) – Soil health research is critical to preserving the environment and increasing farmer yields and profitability. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) and FoodShot Global awarded GroundBreaker Prizes to three individuals conducting trailblazing research that improves soil health and enhances soil management practices. FFAR contributed $110,000, which was matched by partner organizations for a total prize award of $535,000.

This year’s inaugural Foodshot Global Challenge, Innovating Soil 3.0, recognizes rising scientific stars whose research supports a soil system capable of supporting ten billion people. Foodshot Global winners have identified technological and ecological tools that enable farmers to optimize yields and the long-term health of the land. Through this prize, all three recipients receive guidance, mentorship and resources to maximize the impact and scale of their research.

“Soil health is at the root of an agricultural system capable of supporting a growing global population,” said Sally Rockey, FFAR’s executive director. “This type of innovative research is needed to revolutionize global soil health. FFAR is proud to be part of this competition and to support this year’s winners.”

The GroundBreaker Prize was awarded to Dr. Keith Paustian, Dr. Gerlinde de Devn and Dr. Dorn Cox:

Dr. Paustian received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to accelerate the global adaptation of his COMET-Farm tool systems. This specialized technology provides sustainability metrics that inform land management decisions and promote regenerative and conservation-based agricultural practices. These tools are increasingly used in the United States at the federal level to support conservation programs, at the state level to support soil health and carbon management policies, and by industry partners. Dr. Paustian aims to adapt the COMET systems to agricultural regions around the globe.

Dr. Gerlinde de Devn received a $250,000 GroundBreaker Prize to determine soil components that enhance plant productivity, allow for better absorption of nutrients, suppress disease and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Dr. de Devn’s research develops models that predict how plants engage with their environments, allowing researchers to efficiently produce nutritious food without stressing the environment.

Dr. Dorn Cox was also awarded a $35,000 GroundBreaker “Seed” Prize to support his ambitious vision of using Open TEAM to collect environmental data, providing access to comprehensive global agricultural knowledge to help growers make sustainable and profitable farm management decisions. Open TEAM, a technology ecosystem that leverages existing global open-source hardware and software, is in the development phase and aims to advance soil health through community learning and aggregating best agricultural practices. The GroundBreaker Prize will increase the capacity of Open TEAM by incorporating on-the-ground technology support and extending outreach to other open source communities around the world.

“I founded FoodShot Global envisioning a new way to harness the power of innovation, capital, and the collaborative spirit of the world’s leading stakeholders to effect change,” said Chairman and Founder of FoodShot Global Victor Friedberg. “We chose to start with soil because any future that imagines 10 billion people eating healthy and sustainably with equal access will require healthy soil. The three people we announced today are all groundbreakers whose inspired work lays the foundation for the next generation of solutions to the urgency we now face as a civilization. I couldn’t be more impressed and inspired by these inaugural FoodShot Global award winners and look forward to sharing what they’re doing with a larger audience.”

FoodShot Global received 176 GroundBreaker Prize nominations from six continents and over 40 countries. These winners were judged by investors based on core criteria including their alignment with FoodShot Global’s mission of creating a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable food system; their connection to the Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge, the global relevance of their work, their ability to realize growth and scale, and their likelihood of facilitating future innovation and systemic change.

FFAR Awards Grant to Enhance Soil Practices in Almond Orchards

“More than 80 percent of the world’s almonds are produced in California, and this industry contributes $21 billion to the state’s economy. In recognition of the need to develop more resilient almond orchards, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $225,000 Seeding Solutions Grant to the University of California, Davis, to improve soil health in almond orchards. The FFAR grant has been matched with funding from the Almond Board of California and almond growers for a total $450,000 investment.

“Currently, almond growers clean the orchard floor so that no weeds, manures or organic matter are left before harvest begins. Almond harvesters then shake the trees to encourage the almond fruit to fall to the ground, where it dries out before growers transfer the fruit in its hull and shell to processing facilities. Since the almonds touch the ground during harvest, growers are not able to use manures, composts or other materials added to the soil that would contaminate the nuts.”

Read the full article here:

Noble Research Institute Appoints Rhines as President and Chief Executive Officer

Steven Rhines, President & CEO

ARDMORE, Okla. — Noble Research Institute’s governing body announced today the selection of Steven Rhines as the organization’s new president and chief executive officer. The governing body voted unanimously to select Rhines at last week’s regular January meeting.

Rhines has been with Noble for almost two decades, most recently serving as its vice president, general counsel and director of public affairs.

“We conducted a nationwide search for a proven leader who possessed a significant understanding of agricultural research, the vision to advance the Noble Research Institute into the next generation, and high personal integrity,” said Rusty Noble, chairman of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Board of Directors and grandson of the organization’s founder, Lloyd Noble. “We found all of those qualities in Steve. He has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to successfully lead critical initiatives, and he has a great passion for agriculture and Oklahoma. We look forward to him leading Noble for many years to come.”

The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation is the sole member/manager of Noble Research Institute, a nonprofit single-member limited liability company. The Foundation acts through its board of directors to provide leadership for the Institute to carry out its charitable purposes, act as a good steward of its resources, and conduct and support its activities in accordance with the vision of founder Lloyd Noble.

Rhines becomes the ninth president in Noble’s 74-year history. He replaces Bill Buckner, who retired after seven years at the end of 2018. “I’m humbled and honored to be chosen to steward the Noble legacy,” Rhines said. “I am thankful for this opportunity, and I am excited to work alongside a talented and dedicated group of researchers, educators, consultants and staff.”

Rhines, a native of Antlers, Oklahoma, earned a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Oklahoma in 1990 and a Juris Doctor from Southern Methodist University in 1994. Rhines joined Noble from the international law firm of Sidley Austin in 2001.

Rhines has led the legal function of the nonprofit since 2001. Additionally, he has been responsible for overseeing numerous operational activities during his tenure, including extramural funding, communications, government and public affairs, and most recently, youth and adult education.

In 2008, Rhines headed the organization’s effort to modify the U.S. Tax Code to create a new type of 501(c)(3) public charity called agricultural research organizations (AROs). The proposed modification would increase agricultural research capacity in the United States and provide philanthropists another option to invest in public agricultural research. The legislative measure became law in December 2015.

The Noble Research Institute is in the process of converting from a private foundation to an ARO. “The development of AROs was almost a seven-year journey, and Steve led the entire effort,” Noble said. “The project is but one example of his demonstrated vision, critical thinking and tenacity. He cares about Noble and its mission, and he cares for the development of the people he works with and leads. These qualities made him the clear choice for the Institute’s future.”

Rhines begins his tenure as the Institute’s president today. Rusty Noble, on behalf of the governing body, made the announcement to employees during a special gathering on the Institute campus.

“I fell in love with the organization the first day I walked onto this campus and heard the story of Lloyd Noble,” Rhines said. “Our focus is land stewardship in livestock production for producer profitability. We deliver guidance, education, solutions, and innovations to farmers and ranchers — regionally and nationally. Being a part of an organization with a committed governing body, leadership team and employees is a foundation for success. It is the greatest job anyone could have.”

In addition to other community activities and service, Rhines serves as a governor-appointed member of both the Oklahoma School for Science and Mathematics Board of Trustees and the Oklahoma Science and Technology Research and Development Board.

Rhines and his wife, Debbie, live in Ardmore. They have three sons currently attending college: Andrew, Thomas and Grant.