In a collaborative partnership with conservation stewards, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council (MSMC), Missouri Corn Merchandising Council (MCMC), Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), MFA Incorporated, Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever and the Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) are once again offering a biodiversity credit program to the Show-Me State’s growers.
In its second year, the biodiversity project provides opportunities for Missouri’s corn and soybean farmers to earn biodiversity credits by expanding pollinator habitats as part of ESMC’s national ecosystem services market program.
Missouri farmers working to create or enhance pollinator habitat within existing or new field borders, buffers, waterways, or on other non-productive agricultural grounds are eligible. Once credits are quantified and verified, ESMC makes the credits available for purchase to interested buyers.
The average payment from last year was $105 per acre for qualifying enrolled land.
“This program is a fantastic way for corn and soybean farmers to create some extra income on unproductive acres on their farm, all while providing crucial habitat for beneficial native pollinators and other wildlife,” said Brady Lichtenberg, conservation programs manager for MSMC. “Missouri Soybeans is excited to offer farmers the opportunity to participate in a voluntary private market program designed to help improve the land and wildlife habitat for future generations.”
Corn and soybeans are the most widely grown crops in North America. Though not essential to corn and soybean production, pollinators such as native bees commonly forage in these fields. As more farmers continue to adopt precision technology to better utilize productive acres, information from the biodiversity pilot project can help make informed decisions on land management in less-productive areas.
“Creating healthy habitat for pollinators benefits people, crop production, soils, water and wildlife,” said Jason Jensen, MDC community private lands field chief. “By working with like-minded partners and producers, we all achieve the goal of profitable farming through sustainable conservation practices. The biodiversity pilot allows producers to increase conservation practices on their working lands with relatively little investment or risk.”
The biodiversity pilot project is the latest in a portfolio of more than 15 projects ESMC has launched to test and refine its market program. The pilots test ESMC’s processes for credit generation and sales and ensure all other program aspects are operational and meet grower and buyer needs.
“Our members are seeking opportunities to credibly demonstrate increased biodiversity outcomes in their agricultural supply chains,” said Debbie Reed, ESMC executive director. “We are excited by the interest from producers, producer organizations and buyers looking for credible biodiversity impacts from our market program. Based on the results of this project in Missouri, we will increase opportunities for ESMC’s members to invest in biodiversity in agricultural lands throughout the country.”
This is the last year of this biodiversity pilot, with only one year of commitment from farmers willing to participate. Incentive payments will be offered to interested farmers to offset initial costs and keep this a low-risk opportunity.
Missouri farmers interested in learning more about the biodiversity project and creating pollinator-friendly landscapes are encouraged to visit www.mocarbonpilot.com.