Ecosystem Services Market Consortium

The goal of the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium is to launch a fully-functioning, national-scale ecosystem services market conceived and designed to sell both carbon and water quality and quantity credits for the agriculture sector by 2022. ESMC hopes to enable farmers and ranchers to voluntarily adjust crop and livestock production systems in ways that increase soil carbon sequestration and retention, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve water quality, conserve water use, and benefit many additional ecosystem service outcomes.

Two ASA directors serve in the inaugural contingent of ESMC’s new Producer Circle. The 28 Producer Circle members represent 12 ESMC regions across the U.S., with each bringing a unique perspective to ESMC’s goal of developing an ecosystem services market for agricultural producers and buyers. The Producer Circle provides farmer and rancher input while pilot testing ESMC’s innovative protocols and the technical assistance, verification, and certification requirements over the next two years in preparation for full market launch in 2022.

With approximately 70% of U.S. land in private ownership, America’s farmers and ranchers are key to creating solutions to address our nation’s soil health, natural resource, and ecosystem services challenges.

What are ecosystem service markets?
Establishing markets for ecosystem services—the benefits that nature provides, such as clean air, water, and wildlife habitat—has gained traction as a way to finance the conservation of these public goods. In a traditional market system, people regularly come together to buy and sell goods or services. Markets for ecosystem services are based on the same premise: ‘Sellers’ are landowners that provide clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, and other goods and services by sustainably managing their forests, wetlands, and grasslands. ‘Buyers’ of these goods and services are power plants, water treatment facilities, developers, and others who invest in conservation – either by purchasing credits to offset air emissions, water discharges, or habitat/wetland destruction or as a good will gesture to improve the corporate image. Find out more at USDA Forestry Services.