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Announcements The Changing Winds for Agricultural Sustainability

Jess Sand,


Tim York, CEO Markon Cooperative, participated in the Sustainable Agricultural Partnerships conference in San Francisco, August 10-11, 2010, on behalf of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops. This is an excerpt of coverage.

There are numerous ongoing attempts to address this complexity, and the common refrain of "what gets measured, gets managed" cropped up again and again. The struggle for this industry (as with many grappling with sustainability issues) is one of competition: how do otherwise competitive businesses come together to exchange the level of detail necessary to make truly informed decisions?

One project making significant progress in this area is the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, launched in 2008 and currently set to roll out its pilot program this year.

Developed through a multi-stakeholder process in an effort to provide common language and benchmarking tools, the Index is developing specific metrics for measuring sustainable outcomes throughout specialty agriculture. With 420 participants and 43 meetings over nine metric areas -- and a pilot program consisting of over 100 growers across 14 different crops -- the Stewardship Index might be the most striking example industry-wide data sharing yet. A similar effort, called Field to Market, is studying the impacts of commodity crops.

The information garnered from such projects is indispensable to making sustainable decisions along the supply chain, particularly when it comes to prioritization. But even more finite studies provide crucial input when it comes to decision-making.

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