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  • Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

Partnership opens doors to explore carbon markets, credits and trading

Photo: United Soybean Board

Missouri farmers looking to better understand carbon markets have a new opportunity through a pilot project launched by leading Missouri agricultural organizations and Ecosystem Services Market Consortium. Farmers who enroll will have the opportunity to test new innovations in quantifying carbon and water quality benefits and can provide input to guide ESMC program development.

The Missouri pilot is a partnership among the Missouri Corn Merchandising Council, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council and MFA Inc., and offers the state’s corn and soybean farmers a low-risk opportunity to participate in a voluntary agricultural carbon and water quality market. The ESMC market program quantifies and certifies carbon and water quality credits resulting from the adoption of eligible conservation practices on enrolled acres. Once credits are quantified, verified and certified, ESMC makes the credits available for purchase to interested buyers.

“Missouri farmers have lots of questions about emerging agricultural carbon markets,” said Darrick Steen, director of environmental programs for Missouri Corn and Missouri Soybean. “This pilot and partnership with ESMC will go a long way in answering those questions and helping farmers tap into the full economic benefits of the stored carbon that their hard work and soil investments are generating. Our goal with this pilot is to provide farmers a chance to better understand this voluntary agriculture carbon market space and learn how improved soil health and nutrient management practices can translate into both direct economic benefits as well as environmental benefits.”

The Missouri program is one of more than 10 new projects that ESMC is launching this year with its members to test and further refine its voluntary market program prior to full market launch in 2022. The pilots will test ESMC’s processes for credit generation and sales and ensure all other program aspects are operational and meet grower (supplier) and buyer needs.

The idea of stacking multiple ecosystem credits, including increased soil carbon and reduced greenhouse gases, as well as water quality and water quantity, makes ESMC a unique and attractive option for farmers. ESMC is also exploring other marketable ecosystem service areas, like biodiversity, which would quantify the wildlife and habitat value that conservation practices often provide.

“Many, if not most, conservation practices adopted by Missouri farmers provide multiple ecosystem benefits to society and to the environment, and it will be exciting to see these new voluntary private market programs develop that recognize and compensate landowners for these benefits,” Steen said.

Debbie Reed, executive director of ESMC, said, “Our public-private-partnership allows us to work with our members to co-invest, grow and test the ESMC program within the agricultural supply chain and value chain. Strong, progressive partners like these in the Missouri project are how we will ensure this program works first and foremost for agricultural producers. Testing our full program and tools before we launch in 2022 is critical to scale a long-term viable market that meets buyer and seller needs equally.”

For more information about the Missouri pilot, please visit

This pilot project and partnership is made possible through support from Missouri soybean and corn farmers’ checkoff investments, as well as contributions from MFA Incorporated.



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