Taylor McDonald

Dec 13, 2016  |  Today's News

The Field to Market organization, an alliance of various stakeholders in the food supply chain, has released its National Indicators Report. The interactive report, available here, is an analysis of “sustainability trends over time.” Specifically, the report seeks to highlight issues undergirding individual commodity crops and create sustainability projections for the future. The report is compiled using “publicly available data, published government reports, and scientific literature” and is a resource for all sectors of the food supply chain, from commodity groups to restaurants. Additionally, the report highlights various environmental improvements that can be attained through farmers using conservation strategies.

For farmers that are interested in knowing how sustainable their farmland is, Field to Market offers the Fieldprint Calculator. The tool is free and confidential and can help farmers toward understanding the importance of conservation and sustainability. The Precision Conservation Management (PCM) program uses the Fieldprint Calculator.

Here’s a more detailed summary of the report from Field to Market:

Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture brings together a diverse group of grower organizations; agribusinesses; food, beverage, restaurant, and retail companies; conservation groups; universities; and public sector partners to create opportunities across the agricultural supply chain for continuous improvement in productivity, environmental quality, and human well-being. Field to Market offers America’s food and agriculture industries an essential tool for unlocking shared value for all stakeholders—a common framework for sustainability measurement that farmers and the supply chain can use to better understand and assess performance at the field, local, state, and national levels.

By linking the entire agricultural value chain together to collaborate pre-competitively, Field to Market helps drive continuous improvement in the sustainability of commodity crop production. Our Supply Chain Sustainability Program provides an unparalleled platform that helps the food and agricultural supply chain benchmark sustainability performance, catalyze continuous improvement, and enable brands and retailers to characterize the sustainability of key sourcing regions as well as measure and report on progress against environmental goals.

This, the third edition of our National Indicators Report, analyzes sustainability trends over time at the national scale for commodity crops, utilizing the eight environmental indicators in Field to Market’s Supply Chain Sustainability Program and five additional social and economic sustainability indicators. Utilizing publicly available data, published government reports, and scientific literature, we take stock of long-term trends from 1980 to 2015 to assess the sustainability performance of commodity crop agriculture against these indicators.

This edition updates the national level indicators presented in the previous reports for Land Use, Soil Conservation, Irrigation Water Use, Energy Use, and Greenhouse Gas Emissions. In addition, we include the six crops previously assessed: corn for grain, cotton, potatoes, rice, soybeans, and wheat, as well as four new crops: barley, corn for silage, peanuts, and sugar beets. This edition also includes three environmental indicators not considered in the previous report—Biodiversity, Soil Carbon, and Water Quality. Without sufficient quantitative data for these three indicators, we are unable to evaluate crop-specific national trends. However, extensive research and evaluation of national level government reports and scientific literature have enabled us to explore what sustainability trends can be evaluated for each of these three important sustainability issues for commodity crop production as a whole. While we present and discuss trends and drivers, it is important to note that a full statistical analysis for attribution to specific drivers and establishing significance is beyond the scope of the report.

This edition updates the same six social and environmental indicators evaluated in the second edition, utilizing publicly available data to establish a national trend for five indicators, which are Farm Financial Health, Farm Profitability, Generation of Economic Value, Worker Safety, and Labor Productivity.

Access the report here.