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Project Update

Stewardship Index to Develop Metrics Tools and Protocols
The Coordinating Council of the Stewardship Index met in mid-July to consider metrics development work completed to date and to set priorities for future work. The group agreed that, in addition to finalizing a suite of performance-based metrics, the project will also develop an on-line tool and a data management system to enable interested users throughout the industry to measure the sustainable performance of their operation, benchmark progress over time, and compare to other similar operators. The system will provide users convenient access to the metrics by minimizing data entry needs and performing calculations, while ensuring a standardized approach to measuring and comparing.

Stewardship Index wins USDA Conservation Innovation Grant
In late July, USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service announced that it would award a Conservation Innovation Grant in the amount of $630,000 to the Stewardship Index. The grant will be administered by SureHarvest, and indentifies the Natural Resources Defense Council and Western Growers as sub-contractors. Grant funds will be used to complete development of the metrics and pilot them in supply chains.

Ag Innovations Network Retained
The Steering Committee has retained Ag Innovations Network (AIN) to provided project coordination and serve as the dedicated point of contact for the Stewardship Index. AIN was founded in 2000 to build a better future for farmers, consumers, and communities and has worked across California and the nation to bring together unusual partners to support this effort. AIN President Joseph McIntyre has facilitated most of the Stewardship Index webinars since the project was launched earlier this year. AIN is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation based in Sebastopol, California.

Metric Workgroups Pick Up the Pace
Since the June 3 project update, metric facilitators have hosted 13 webinars for the following metrics: Air Quality, Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Energy Use, GHG Emissions, Human Resources, Nutrients, Pesticides, Soils, Waste, Water Quality, and Water Use. The Metrics Review Committee now includes 290 participants. Up-to-date drafts of each metric are posted on the project workspace. To join the Metrics Review Committee, please sign up at