Update: Coordinating Council Meeting, July 15
Staff, Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops
The Coordinating Council (CC) is the governing board of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC). Made up of equal representation from the grower, buyer and public interest communities, and governing by consensus, this of group of 30 individuals is responsible for all of the decisions related to SISC content and policy. The group meets every other month, and met most recently on July 15, 2011.
Beta Metrics Version 1.0 Calculator and User Guide
When the CC met in April, we heard a summary of pilot participant feedback including a request for a shorter and easier to use set of metrics. As a result, the CC approved the following metrics as Beta Metrics Version 1.0: energy use, water use, soil quality and nutrient efficiency. The group also requested that we develop an allocation methodology for reporting energy use at the crop level. Since April, we have been developing an excel calculator for using the metrics, a methodology for allocating total farm energy use to specific crops, and a calculator to help growers estimate crop evapo-transpiration (ETc).
During the July meeting, the CC reviewed and approved the Beta Metric Calculator. The group believes that it is directionally correct and will make the next phase of pilots more productive. The added benefit of the SISC calculator will be the ability, over time, to collect sector-level data that isn’t included in the USDA Agriculture Census, and to identify opportunities for increased efficiencies. Steps prior to piloting include: grower trials to get initial feedback on usability of the calculator and the review of a methodology document by the appropriate metric review committees.
Data Confidentiality Policy
The CC reviewed and approved an explicit, concise data confidentiality policy based on feedback from 2010 pilot participants.The goal of the policy is to preserve the confidentiality of the data that is contributed by volunteer pilot participants, while enabling the sharing of anonymized data and lessons learned within the SISC community. The policy establishes a clear, reasonable and fair standard for confidentiality applicable to all parties involved with the SISC pilot program. The main difference in the 2011 policy is that it doesn’t require going back to pilot participants for confirmation that data are effectively anonymous, but rather leaves that activity in the hands of the CC. The group agreed that the next round of pilot data will be useful for perfecting the calculator and testing the capacity for peer-to-peer learning, which is at the heart of the SISC concept.
The CC unanimously approved a proposal that SISC become a fiscally sponsored program of Ag Innovations Network. The fiscal sponsorship agreement will enable SISC to fundraise as its own entity rather than as individual stakeholder entities and establish the CC as the formal secretariat of SISC. In exchange for an administrative fee of 8% of SISC funds raised, Ag Innovations Network will provide SISC with bookkeeping and financial reporting services, contracting authority, and liability insurance. This proposal is still pending approval by the Ag Innovations Network Board which will take place in late August or early September.