Burlington, VT – Healthy soil – vibrant and teeming with organisms – builds soil carbon and is a key solution to the climate crisis. Yet modern farming and cattle grazing practices like tilling, monocropping, and overgrazing erode the soil, depleting the nutrients that help plants grow and releasing what remains of its once vast stores of soil carbon through oxidization and erosion. While regenerative agriculture practices can increase yields for ranchers and farmers over the long term, in the short term they can be too expensive to implement.
Native, a Public Benefit Corporation, seeks to address the capital gap and provide a soil-based carbon emission reductions project for companies that want to manage the climate impacts in their agriculture supply chains.
Through the Montana Improved Grazing Project, ranchers will receive financial support for implementing regenerative grazing practices such as:
- Higher intensity rotational grazing, emulating the rest and recovery periods of migratory herbivores that created the deep prairie soils of the past. This transition requires more fencing, more active cattle management, and often building water infrastructure to supply potential pastures previously not viable.
- Reducing the selectivity of grazing and relieving pressure on waterways. These activities will allow perennial grasses, native species, and riparian zones to regenerate.
- Adding compost, soil microbes, and other symbiotic soil species to the soil to increase the decomposition of organic matter and the subsequent availability of nutrients for the grasses.
The Montana Improved Grazing project currently has 35,000 acres under management. With its on-the-ground partner Western Sustainability Exchange, Native plans an extensive outreach and recruitment program to expand to 250,000 acres by 2021 and to scale growth from there. Using the most conservative science, Native estimates the initial 35,000 acres of land under management will sequester 406,000 tonnes of carbon over 20 years, the equivalent of taking 86,200 passenger vehicles off the road for one year.
“Farmers told us they were interested in regenerative agriculture projects and our corporate clients wanted a carbon solution to manage emissions in their agriculture supply chains. We created this project to address the capital gap that keeps good projects from coming online,” Jeff Bernicke, Native CEO explains, “It’s just like wind energy 20 years ago.”
This project is funded through Native’s Help Build™ model. Unlike most carbon offsets, sold year-by-year from projects that are already built and operating, Help Build™ investors finance projects with up-front funding needs and a longer-term payback, like the Montana Improved Grazing Project. Carbon offsets are calculated after the project launches.
The project is being validated under the Verified Carbon Standard in 2019. The final stage of baseline soil sampling is currently underway. Native uses the most conservative estimates available when estimating carbon removal and the associated carbon offsets of its projects. Grazing plans and ranch records will be monitored and evaluated annually with support from Western Sustainability Exchange, a regenerative agriculture nonprofit. VCS verification of carbon accruals will be made every 5-7 years.
On Wednesday, June 5th, at 11:30 a.m, Native and Western Sustainability Exchange are hosting a tour of the project at the Indreland Ranch site. Nine corporations will learn how Montana ranchers are sequestering carbon through their grazing management. Participating companies include the Disney Corporation, Wrangler, Timberland, Patagonia, Organic Valley, AllBirds Shoes, Apollo Investment Corporation, Everlane, and BeefChain Blockchain Verified Beef and Sheep.
Vermont-based Native, a Public Benefit Corporation, is a leading expert and provider of innovative programs that eliminate ecological impacts and contribute to the common good. Developed in conjunction with its corporate partners, the company’s Help Build™ projects create uniquely brand-relevant national and international wind, water, biogas, solar, and other renewable energy and clean water initiatives that help those partners reduce carbon footprints, build supplier resilience, bring substantial social and environmental benefits to needful communities, and build a future that benefits all.
About Western Sustainability Exchange
Western Sustainability Exchange (WSE) was founded in 1994 to conserve the abundance of the Northern Rockies including its open spaces; wildlife habitats; soil, air, and water resources; rural communities; and agricultural land and heritage. Today, WSE boasts important successes in bringing together concerned parties who are committed to the future of the region. The organization has aided nearly 1,000 farmers and ranchers in designing and implementing innovative and sustainable production strategies, developed value-added markets for these producers, educated thousands of consumers about the long-term benefits of sustainable purchasing, and increased access to sustainably produced local foods for citizens of the region.
Contact: Jennifer Cooper, Native
Lill Erickson, WSE Executive Director
(406) 222-0730 ext. 2 (O) 406-223-2022 (Cell)