Carrie Raber serves as a planner in the Minnesota Department of Health’s Drinking Water Protection Program. As part of this work, Raber is advancing source water protection through innovative methods that recognize ecosystem services as an approach to solve complex environmental challenges.
Letter From The BOARD
Welcome to Conservation Marketplace Midwest (CMM). I have had the privilege to serve as the Chair of the CMM Board of Directors from 2014-2017. CMM holds a special place in my heart because it combines my personal belief in people and my love of the great outdoors. I personally believe that the overwhelming majority of agricultural producers care about the environment and understand that good stewardship is vital to pass a sustainable, profitable farm down to their future generations.
Due to my past experiences of growing up on a dairy farm and my job as Administrator of the Stearns County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), I understand how complex farming is in today’s world. In fact, during my 21-year career at the SWCD, I witnessed agriculture become an
increasingly more complex industry each and every year. Farmers face so many day-to-day issues and challenges that often the time to plan for a new conservation practice and acquire the conservation funding necessary is simply not available. Conservation initiatives sometimes get lost in the direct competition for a producer’s attention from so many other necessary business decisions that must be made to survive. That’s where CMM can help make a difference.
The future of CMM looks bright, the vision of the CMM Board is to make streamlined conservation funding sources available to farmers by training their existing agricultural advisors on the rules for emerging private sector funding programs. Private sector programs like corporate supply chain sustainability, well head protection payments, and habitat initiatives are emerging across the country.
My vision for CMM is that CMM will be able to offer farmers multiple conservation funding options, options that can be discussed when their existing trusted advisers come to the farm to provide their traditional services. As market-based funding sources continue to emerge, the CMM Board and staff are working to develop the supporting tools and program infrastructures necessary to generate efficient private markets. Examples of current and past CMM activities include working with buyers in payment for ecosystem service programs (PES), developing corporate supply chain sustainability programs for livestock and feed, and creating quantification tools to measure the environmental improvements. In a PES program a buyer pays a farmer to install a conservation measure that improves a specific environmental concern such as water quality protection or pollinator habitat.
Corporate supply chain responsibility is a quickly emerging approach that has many different looks. Responsibility programs are driven by knowledgeable consumers who wish to support product lines and corporations that have demonstrated social and environmental responsibility. For these consumers, purchases from corporations that only care about minimizing costs of the supply chain materials will be avoided. Instead consumer purchases will be made from companies that consider and address the potential for impacts placed on the supply chain region. The impacts being addressed can include community and family quality of life, and land, air and water quality protection. In order to ensure the accountability and transparency of both PES and corporate supply chain sustainability programs, CMM has supported the development of proper program frameworks and quantification tools to measure the impacts of conservation practices installed as part of program efforts.
At CMM, the goal of the Board of Directors, staff and members is to promote and develop efficient methods to accelerate the emergence and operation of many types of private sector conservation funding sources. There is little doubt in our minds that the future of conservation aligns with CMM’s vision of providing a streamlined and effective offering of conservation funding options to farmers and land managers that will result in a better world tomorrow.