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Ecosystem Services Market Consortium expands

DarcyMaulsby/iStock/Thinkstock hog barns farm and wind turbines in Iowa corn field
Tyson, Bayer and Nutrien Ag Solutions among those added to roster of land stewardship organization.

Just three months after its official launch, the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) has added eight more private-sector companies and nonprofit organizations to the group. The move demonstrates the groundswell support surging throughout all levels of the agricultural supply chain as it seeks to advance the development of a market-based approach to promoting land stewardship to build healthy soils, sequester soil carbon and conserve and improve the nation’s water. 

Nutrien Ag Solutions will be joining ESMC as a Founding Circle member. New Legacy Partners will include Bayer, National Farmers Union, American Farmland Trust, National Association of Conservation Districts, Soil Health Partnership, The Fertilizer Institute and Tyson Foods.

“All of the ESMC member companies and organizations recognize the critical importance and benefit of not only taking care of our working lands but enriching them,” ESMC executive director Debbie Reed said. “They know it will create positive social, economic and environmental outcomes, and they want to help lead those efforts.”

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 improvements in water quality and conservation from the agriculture sector.

“The ESMC is doing groundbreaking work in the sustainability arena, and Nutrien is honored to join this consortium and its distinguished roster of companies, organizations and associates so we can all work together to advance agricultural sustainability,” said Mike Frank, chief executive officer of retail for Nutrien. “Nutrien Ag Solutions has extensive exposure to the agricultural supply chain, including farmers, food processors and big-box consumer packaged goods retailers. We will be able to draw on resources from our company network of more than 3,500 agronomists and already established close, personal working relationships with over one-half-million farmers.”

ESMC has been working behind the scenes for the past 20 months to ensure that it is bringing forward a well-thought-out and tested approach that can be successful for all parties involved.

ESMC said it will continue to focus its attention on providing the necessary transparency and rigor to track improvements in soil health and GHG emissions, water quality and water use as well as additional attributes to be added in the future, such as biodiversity. It will also 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 insetting and offsetting supply chain strategies and the sale of ecosystem services credits.

A pilot test of ESMC’s integrated ecosystem credit protocol is currently taking place on 50,000 acres of rangeland and farmland in Texas and Oklahoma. It is focused on developing cause-and-effect assessments of production management practices, led by the Noble Research Institute. Additional pilots and implementation are planned across the U.S. in 2019 and beyond. 

By 2022, ESMC hopes the program will encompass all major agricultural production systems and geographies in the U.S.

The eight new ESMC members join Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge, Cargill, General Mills, Indigo Agriculture, McDonald’s USA, Noble Research Institute LLC, Soil Health Institute, The Nature Conservancy and Mars Inc., which formed the consortium earlier this year.

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