It is easy to understand how farmers and ranchers get paid for products coming off of land. It’s happened since agriculture began. A product is produced from the land and sold for money or traded for goods. Got it. But what does it look like when farmers and ranchers are paid for products coming into the land, instead of off of it? Especially when it is something that you can’t really see, touch, hold, or eat like most agriculture products.
What are these products “coming into the land”? They are molecules coming in (or being sequestered) such as carbon. What is the economic model of the carbon market? Is it only for farmers in the Midwestern United States, or is there an opportunity for ranchers managing pastures and rangelands? How do farmers and ranchers access these markets? What are the risks and benefits? What is required of the producer to participate? What work does it take? How would participating in the carbon market change the farmer or rancher’s operation?
During this one hour webinar, we will dig into these questions and more with three people deeply involved in the marketplace of carbon and ecosystem services (being paid for improving the ecosystem health).
Read more about Paul, Phyllis and Meri below. Depending on demand, the panelists and hosts (Spencer and Abbey Smith) are willing to follow the webinar with deeper virtual workshops focused on specific aspects of the carbon and ecosystem services market.
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Phyllis Van Amburgh
I began my working years working with developmentally delayed pre-school kids as an OTR, then started the first of three farms and began raising our family. Most recently, I provide the education, mentoring, and support for the 150+ farms supplying milk to Maple Hill Creamery while continuing to dairy farm with my husband Paul and our five kids, aged 10-19, in central New York State.
Our farm was the first to join the founders of Maple Hill Creamery in 2010, and was followed by many other producers under our guidance. As Maple Hill Creamery grew we met with investors and markets to detail the attributes of our production model. Our overall involvement with Maple Hill Creamery through the years has helped lead to the success and creation of this national brand.
What began as farm gatherings to develop 100% grass-fed milk production at a commercial scale has evolved into support and training for dairy farmers transitioning to Certified Organic, 100% Grass-fed Certified production from both grain-fed organic and conventional production.
I have published articles for my Madre Method, which outlines practices for calves raised one-to-one on their dam in a commercial dairy setting, and series’ of articles in trade magazines for successful transition to, and production of, dairy with a forage-only ration.
From 2014-16 I joined the Savory Institute as a Savory Hub, delving deep into Holistic Management. This brought me travel and learning across the globe from the African bush to Europe and across the USA. I continue to maintain affiliation with SI as an Accredited Professional.
My work as a producer, as a teacher, as a student of experts and mentors within regenerative production, and as part of an emerging national dairy brand, has provided me with tremendous insight into all aspects of regenerative production and working toward a change in agriculture.
Growing up in rural Michigan my father instilled in me a deep appreciation for nature and science with frequent nature walks and trips to Lake Michigan. Throughout my life this inspired my pursuit in engineering and environmental work to regenerate and protect these places for future generations to thrive within and experience. Continuing to seek ways to connect with place and planet led me to agriculture where we are deeply bound to the earth through food and soil. I believe that in order to have a healthy thriving food system and ecosystem we must come together to share the risk our farmers and ranchers take in producing our food, fuel and fiber. As the Program Director for Regen Future Capital’s Soil Regeneration Funding Program, I work within our agrarian communities to encourage collaboration and foster meaningful change in agricultural policies, practices and economies. We are developing a robust program to de-risk farmers in the adoption of soil health practices with access to capital, training and carbon markets.
Dr. Paul Zorner is Chief Agronomist and CEO Emeritus of Locus Agricultural Solutions® (Locus AG). Locus AG is an agricultural technology B Corporation® (B Corp™) with innovative microbial “probiotic” solutions that improve soil health to increase crop productivity, accelerate crops’ ability to sequester atmospheric carbon in soils and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Paul has held R&D, operating and leadership positions with large agribusinesses and venture-backed startups including BASF, Dow Chemical, Mycogen Corp (acquired by Corteva) and Diversa Corp. He has dedicated his career to supporting global food supply, improving the nutritional content of food, and advocating for agricultural systems that support the economic and environmental health of rural communities.
Abbey Smith serves as the Savory Global Network Coordinator. She is also owner and operator of the Jefferson Center for Holistic Management with her husband, Spencer. The Jefferson Center is an organic cattle ranch and Savory Network Hub in Fort Bidwell, California.
She spent two months in South Africa living with families on holistically managed cattle farms after graduating magna cum laude from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a degree in animal science and a focus in communications and ethnic studies. She attended graduate school at the University of Nevada, Reno where she received a master’s degree in interactive journalism. At UNR, she wrote a business plan for an online business to connect consumers and producers of local food. Through the competition, Abbey met her former employer of nine years and was recruited into the online/digital business world. During the last nine years she rose to a position of leadership within the company, Swift Communications, and was involved in many new ventures. She loves to work in in fast-paced, team environments working on projects in emerging markets. Before graduate school, she served as the director of a non-profit organization for natural resource conservation called The River Center in Modoc County, California. This position taught her how to manage a budget and bring groups of people together, often times with conflicting viewpoints, in order to find common ground.
She grew up on a commercial cattle ranch in Indian Valley, in Plumas County, California. Her loving, large, loud family has lived in the valley for seven generations. Family is a source of joy to her. Her goal in life is to build a beautiful world for her daughter, Maezy, which is why she and Spencer are working to advance Holistic Management.
Living in the rural community of Surprise Valley, California and being involved in a global organization is a dream come true. Abbey serves on the Surprise Valley Education Foundation board and is involved in local food groups. She enjoys doing yoga, throwing kettlebells around, gardening, riding horses and hiking with her daughter. Her happiest moments are on the ranch with her family. She loves running and runs alone, except when in Africa.