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  • Conservation Innovation Fund

ESMC Partners with the Conservation Innovation Fund to Create Innovative Water, Carbon, and Biodiversity Credit Opportunities in the Mid-Atlantic

The Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) and the Conservation Innovation Fund (CIF) are pleased to announce kick-off of a project to streamline the creation and sale of environmental credits from dairy and beef producers in the Mid-Atlantic. Through the project, farmers will implement practices such as edge-of-field conservation, increased nutrient management, manure management, cover crops, and reduced tillage. These practices will generate environmental credits from measurable water quality improvements, carbon reduction, and biodiversity enhancements.

The project provides up-front capital to producers and agricultural technical assistance providers to collaboratively develop water, biodiversity, and carbon credits. Credit buyers in the food and beverage sector will have the opportunity to meet their Scope 3 supply chain carbon goals using agriculture as an environmental solution. Credits developed through the project will meet the quality requirements of global corporate supply chain accounting and reporting standards.

“Market-based sustainability initiatives have the potential to fundamentally reshape how we integrate carbon sequestration, water quality, and biodiversity preservation into our agricultural supply chains,” said Ashley Allen Jones, CEO of i2 Capital and founding board member of the CIF. “We formed the Conservation Innovation Fund to systematically align resources and reduce adoption risk to agricultural producers, quantification and transaction experts, and corporate purchasers, thereby strengthening the emerging market for carbon and water smart commodities.”

Additional lead project partners include Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative Association (MDVA), TeamAg, RedBarn Consulting, Stroud Water Research Center, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Lancaster Clean Water Partners, the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, and members of the Virginia and Pennsylvania Soil Health Coalitions, alongside several food and beverage brands.

“Our family farmer-owned cooperative of over 950 dairy farmers across the Mid-Atlantic embraces sustainability as a core operating principal,” said Lindsay Reames, Executive Vice President of Sustainability and External Relations for MDVA. “Our partnership with ESMC and CIF will support the delivery of carbon- and water-smart commodities to our many retail customers while strengthening farm operations and bolstering rural economies across our region.”

ESMC is targeting up to 500,000 acres enrollment in 2022 with its market program launch. ESMC’s program stacks multiple ecosystem credits, including increased soil carbon, reduced greenhouse gases, water quality, water use conservation, and biodiversity, to make ESMC a unique and attractive option for farmers and for buyers and investors seeking high quality carbon and environmental credits.

ESMC’s Executive Director Debbie Reed stated, “US farmers and ranchers are rising to the challenge to become more sustainable and meet the demands of corporations and consumers. Our joint programming will reward farmers for implementing sustainability practices that are quantified and verified in our digitized program that generates high quality credits. The up-front funding mechanism of this project provides Mid-Atlantic producers the capital to implement practices with less financial risk. This increases their ability to participate in ecosystem services markets that scale quantified improvements to water, carbon, and biodiversity.”


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