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Ecosystem Services Markets
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Environmental Solutions for cleaner air and water

Iowa wetlands purification system
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

Ecosystem markets place an economic value on the environmental benefits ecosystems provide- like purifying water, maintaining better air quality, sequestering carbon to control climate change and protecting biodiversity.

By assigning an economic value to ecosystems, farmers can be paid to produce environmental benefits through certain conservation practices on their land.

Paying farmers for these benefits is among the most cost-effective and shovel-ready solutions for protecting our environment in the near term.

How We are Helping

We are involving agriculture in the development of these markets in strategic areas across the nation. Our goal is for farmers to treat the production of environmental services as part of their whole farm income.  By coupling these ecosystem service markets with risk management tools like our BMP Challenge, we are working towards the significant adoption of conservation practices in agriculture- while maintaining or increasing on-farm income.

Sauk River Watershed
Washington State
Ohio River Basin
Sunset Over Farm

Two Ways Ecosystem Services Can Work

Public Funding:
Federal or state incentives for farmers to maximise ecosystem services on their land

1) Government payments that reward farmers for stewardship in the form of conservation payments
2) Government tax benefits such as conservation easements on farmland

Private Trading
Markets that determine a value for the environmental benefits and have a system to buy and sell those benefits in the form of credits.
1) Voluntary markets such as the Chicago Climate Exchange
2) Regulatory markets such as federal cap and trade legislation

Learn More:

arrow Federal Farm Policy and Ecosystem Markets

arrow Guide to Environmental Markets for Farmers and Ranchers [PDF]

arrow How Ecosystem Markets Can Transform Agriculture and Protect the Environment [PDF]

arrow Conservation Markets Workshop and Listening Session for Agriculture

Watch Our Tutorials:
No-till farming practices


Cap and Trade Carbon
Markets Tutorial

California restored wetlands, photo courtesy of USDA NRCS


Water Quality Trading Markets Tutorial

American Farmland Trust