ESMC 2020 Priorities
As we begin 2020, we are cognizant that there is much to achieve and collectively accomplish with our members and stakeholders to prepare for a national market launch in 2022. We are eager and excited to continue our progress! Our quarterly in-person meetings with ESMC members are opportunities to collectively decide on priorities and actions and to make decisions on critical R&D elements to fund via ESMRC, the research arm of ESMC.ESMRC working groups are tackling technical and functional issues associated with market development, and teeing up decisions and investment opportunities for members to collectively make at our meetings. We are finalizing launch plans for several new pilots in the Midwest as well as new pilots in the Southern Great Plains – adding row crop systems to our existing pilots on rangelands and grazing lands. We will continue to share learnings and outcomes from our 2019 pilot with members, and will soon announce the sale of credits from that pilot – a particularly exciting outcome.
Various of the 2020 pilots will test new ecosystem services asset quantification tools and technologies. Finally, we are kicking off a program level certification process with SustainCERT to certify ESMC protocols and Scope 1 and Scope 3 GHG assets, including by working with our members during and through the 2020 pilots.
2020 will be another busy year for ESMC – and we are grateful to our members and supporters for their continued engagement and thoughtful inputs. Together we are building the premier ecosystem services market to reward US farmers and ranchers for their ecosystem services. We look forward to continuing to share plans and progress as 2020 proceeds and as we prepare for the 2022 full market launch.
Working Groups Update
The ESMRC Working Groups have been busy evaluating and identifying priority research needs focused on the research, development, demonstration and deployment of cost-effective, scalable technologies and approaches to support the launch of the ecosystem services market.
Working Group #1 (GHG Assets) has been hosting presentations with experts on carbon measurement technologies as they work to narrow down a list of promising innovative tools for further evaluation and pilot testing. An RFP for the evaluation is expected to be released in mid-February.
Working Group #2 (Water Assets) has done similar work, hosting deep dive presentations on the Water Quality Index and Nutrient Tracking Tool, as they refine the water quality quantification approach and identify needed improvements for regional calibration and quantification. A multi-member team has convened to propose work that leverages the interest and efforts of several organizations to serve multiple water quality quantification modeling needs. Working Group #2 is also working to define a more robust and regionally relevant approach to Scope 3 water reporting while minimizing the time and effort required by farmers to participate. An Edge-of-Field Practices Strike Team has formed and is reviewing practices that will need to be included in the regional adaptations of ESMC’s protocol.
Working Group #3 (MRV Platform) has been diving into detailed specifications for building out the MRV platform and coordinating data collection, quantification, and verification components. They have identified the need for a project to specifically focus on efficiency improvements as the protocol expansion is piloted. A sub-group, the Data Standardization Strike Team, has formed and is examining the alignment of data collection across programs and modeling inputs.
Working Group #4 (Soil Carbon Research) is working on three potential project RFPs to be released in mid-February with goals of better understanding long-term carbon sequestration studies, land use history impacts on soil, and how current field studies and modeling can be combined to develop a spatial prediction of soil C sequestration potential for U.S. agricultural soils under soil health management systems. Several participants from both WG#1 and WG#4 have joined together as a SOP Strike Team and are refining the ESMC soil sampling Standard Operating Procedures to ensure measurement consistency and accommodation of regional and production system differences.
We welcome new members and science advisors named to the working groups as follows (list of existing members may be found here): WG1 – Brooks Coetzee, Corteva/Granular; Bill Salas, Dagan; and Allison Thompson, Field to Market; WG2 – Chris Kopman, Newtrient; Kathy Boomer, FFAR; and Allison Thomson, Field to Market. Sara Walker has replaced Paul Reig as the Science Advisor from World Resources Institute; WG3 – Chris Boomsma, Tri-Societies; Chisara Ehiemere, Field to Market; Jeremy Peters, NACD; Julie DiNatale, Corteva/Granular; and Ian Cooke, Dagan; and WG4 – Jim Wallace, Newtrient.
Gold Standard Certification and ESMC
In December, ESMC entered into agreement with SustainCERT, the official certification body for the Gold Standard for the Global Goals. The Gold Standard will allow ESMC, in collaboration with membership, to quantify, certify and maximize progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals and supply chain reporting and other market requirements. ESMC will work with SustainCERT to secure and maintain Gold Standard certification for ESMC protocols and for Scope 1 and Scope 3 GHG assets, and ultimately, water assets as well, Work will include collaborative efforts during the pilot project process with ESMC members.
New Funding Awards for ESMC
ESMC is pleased to announce a new grant award in support of ESMC work. ESMC is a collaborator with ESMC member Conservation Technology Information Center (CTIC) on a project focused on a phosphorus load reduction trading program in the Great Lakes Region. CTIC received $479,782 from the EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) to support this project, and ESMC will share partnership opportunities with members under the GLRI grant during our February meeting. Congratulations and thanks to our partner and member, CTIC!
Welcome New Members
New Legacy Partner members of ESMC include: the American Farm Bureau Federation, K-Coe Isom, and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. We welcome and thank you for your engagement.
ESMC Member Updates
Survey Deadline: ESMC members received an email on behalf of the ESMC team from Project Manager Caroline Wade on January 7 with a link to the Member Priorities Survey. Please be sure to share your input and feedback on priorities, opportunities and needs by completing this survey before the January 28 close date.
Meeting Registration: ESMC members are reminded to register for the third quarterly ESMC in-person member meeting to be held in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 11-12, if you have not already done so. Thank you!