Ten private-sector companies and nonprofit organizations have joined together to form the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium.
The ESMC’s Founding Circle is comprised of:
- General Mills,
- Indigo Agriculture,
- McDonald’s USA,
- Noble Research Institute, LLC,
- Soil Health Institute and
- The Nature Conservancy.
- Mars Incorporated joined the Consortium at the Legacy Partner level.
The collective Founding Circle and Legacy Partner members represent a diverse cross-section of the agricultural supply chain and seek to advance the development of a market-based approach to promoting land stewardship to build healthy soils, soil carbon sequestration and water conservation on the globe’s working lands.
The launch of ESMC builds on the earlier formation of the Ecosystem Services Market Program, a product of more than 20 months of industry and sector leaders developing resources and information to establish a successful ecosystems market.
Debbie Reed has been selected as executive director of the consortium. “There is no subject about which I am more passionate than working with farmers and ranchers to properly steward our natural environment,” Reed said. “I’m thrilled to lead the consortium, because I am joined by numerous like-minded organizations and individuals from across the country. We already have seen such a tremendous outpouring of support.”
Founding Circle and Legacy Partner members pledge financial support as well as their participation to create a movement to measure, verify, and monetize increases in soil carbon, reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and improved water quality and water conservation from the agricultural sector.
“America’s farmers and ranchers are vital to addressing many of the conservation challenges facing the world today,” said Larry Clemens, director of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Agriculture Program. “We are excited to join other members of the Consortium to work toward a sustainable food system through improved soil health that benefits farmers, ranchers, communities and our natural resources.”
“We’re proud to partner with the consortium and its members to support farmers and ranchers who are building healthy soil on their land,” said Jerry Lynch, vice president and chief sustainability officer at General Mills.
‘National effort to effect change’
Noble Research Institute initiated, supported financially, and led the 20 months of activities preceding the launch of the consortium. In 2019, the Walton Family Foundation provided $400,000 to further the development of the ecosystem service market and dissemination of production management practices for agricultural working lands.
“The Walton Family Foundation is proud to support ESM as part of a movement across America’s farms toward healthier soils that are good for farmers and the environment,” said Moira McDonald of the Walton Family Foundation. This funding builds on important early support from the McKnight Foundation and General Mills Foundation.
“From the onset of this initiative, we knew that it would take at least a national effort to effect change,” Reed said. “Beginning with Noble Research Institute, these companies and organizations have demonstrated their desire to be national leaders in this space. We thank them for their support and look forward to achieving our goals together.”
Pilot project in Texas, Oklahoma
With this launch, ESMC will be housed within and administratively supported by the Soil Health Institute.
ESMC will drive the coordinated development of advanced analytical tools and technologies to cost-effectively measure and monitor changes in sustainability outcomes and contribute income to farmers and ranchers through supply-chain strategies and the sale of ecosystem services credits.
ESMC is conducting a pilot test of its integrated ecosystem credit protocol on 50,000 acres of rangeland and farmland in Texas and Oklahoma. This initial test is part of a land stewardship pilot which is focused on development of cause and effect assessment from production management practices, led by Noble Research Institute. Future ESMC plans include additional pilots and later implementation across the United States in 2019 and beyond. By 2022, the program intends to encompass all major agricultural production systems and geographies in the United States.