Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (“ESMC”), a non-profit member-based organization launching a national scale ecosystem service market program for agriculture, and Benson Hill, Inc. (NYSE: BHIL) (“Benson Hill”), a food tech company unlocking the natural genetic diversity of plants, today announced the completion of the first year of a carbon credit pilot leveraging Benson Hill’s farm to ingredient business model.
Over 2021, ESMC executed several successful projects with soy and corn farmers across the Midwest to generate carbon credits and earn payments for reduced greenhouse gases and increased soil carbon as an outcome of their on-farm practice changes. The project with Benson Hill is particularly unique because of the organization’s closed loop business model, giving Benson Hill the capability to leverage its data aggregation from the farm through ingredient manufacturing, and streamlines the carbon credit generation process within ESMC’s program.
Debbie Reed, ESMC Executive Director, noted, “Our digitized program enables seamless enrollment and participation for farmers. The innovative model we are testing with Benson Hill allows us to develop farmer support from seed to harvest, and it enables rapid aggregation and utilization of robust data sets. This type of integrated partnership and infrastructure is critical to scale a long-term viable market that meets buyer and seller needs equally.”
Net-zero carbon commitments are rapidly accelerating across the globe but bridging the complex agricultural supply chain to engage farmers and both accurately and efficiently connect digital data streams can be a challenge for food companies seeking to achieve carbon neutrality. Through strong relationships with its partner farmers, access to their data, and an understanding of their management practices, Benson Hill can identify farmers in its network who are interested in introducing and scaling practices.
Once farmers enroll, Benson Hill seamlessly can send ESMC data from the farm so ESMC can quantify credits and arrange third party credit verification. ESMC then makes verified credits available for purchase to interested buyers.
“Benson Hill’s partnership really simplified the process for me. Our ongoing work together has provided a lot of added value for my operation and engaging in carbon markets is a great example. Benson Hill packaged up the required agronomic data and soil carbon testing, then all I had to do was review and approve,” stated Aaron Lee of Cornerstone Family Farms in Salem, Indiana and a producer in the 2021 pilot.
Benson Hill and ESMC launched the pilot in 2021, and Benson Hill is recruiting growers within its network for training in regenerative agriculture practices for project continuation in the 2022 season.
“Food production is one of the most promising industries to help mitigate climate change, and our work with ESMC demonstrates the value of connecting the farmer to the consumer facilitating increased transparency,” said Anthony Kingsley, Sr. Director of ESG and Stakeholder Engagement for Benson Hill. “Through our data identification and collection process, we remove the data barriers faced by farmers enrolling in carbon market programs and facilitate their access to new revenue opportunities.”
In 2022, ESMC is targeting 500,000 acres enrollment with market program launch. ESMC’s program stacks multiple ecosystem credits, including increased soil carbon and reduced greenhouse gases, and water quality and water use conservation, to make ESMC a unique and attractive option for farmers.