Industry Leaders Resign From ANSI Committees

Ball Horticultural Company’s Will Healy, D.S. Cole Growers’ Doug Cole and Metrolina Greenhouse’s Mark Yelanich have resigned from the committees developing national agricultural sustainability standards.

In a letter to Leonardo Academy President Michael Arny, the three former committee members write that floriculture is committed to developing standards but that those resigning do not see standards on the horizon after two-plus years of deliberation. The Feb. 9 letter to Arny is as follows:

After months of careful and deliberate discussions we the undersigned have decided to withdraw from the ANSI process organized by Leonardo Academy to develop a National Standard for Sustainable Agricultural.

A large number of people have dedicated considerable effort towards creation of this standard but after 2+ years of effort only modest progress has occurred. We are committed to developing a sustainable standard for agriculture but feel that the Leonardo Academy process will not accomplish this goal.

There are multiple reason we are withdrawing from the process. We do not feel that the current committee make-up and established process can lead to the intended outcome of a National Standard acceptable to agricultural businesses. Some of the current participants have proposed and incorporated issues that, although potentially relevant, dilute and distract the core issues that will lead to a meaningful standard.

The implementation of a nationally recognized Sustainable Agriculture Standard is essential for the continued development of a strong and vibrant industry. We believe that it is possible to achieve a widely accepted standard using a more focused and relevant process.

Doug Cole, DS Cole Greenhouse
Will Healy, Ball Horticultural Company
Mark Yelanich, Metrolina Greenhouse

Healy has served as secretary and vice-secretary the last three years. Yelanich has served on the committee and several subcommittees over the last three years, and Cole has served on several subcommittees.

To Healy, having to resign is a personal disappointment because he, along with Ball, are committed to developing sustainable standards.

“In my travels around the world I have seen the value of creating standards and the positive impact they have on the industry so it is very disappointing that we have invested three valuable years and have nothing to show for the efforts. There are other initiatives currently underway that I feel will develop meaningful standards for our industry much faster. Without a clear set of industry developed standards, we are at the mercy of the marketplace setting unrealistic and financially unacceptable requirements to be “sustainable”

Last October, 10 agricultural withdrew from committees, citing systemic limitations and chronic anti-agriculture biases inherent in the writing committee structure set up for the initiative. From the start of the initiative, agricultural representatives indicated the Leonardo Academy initiative was poorly executed.

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8 comments on “Industry Leaders Resign From ANSI Committees

  1. From the start the Leonardo Academy has had as it’s goal to promote organic growing practices as the standard for sustainability to the detriment of 99% of Agriculture and Horticulture in the United States. Their process is heavily biased to put organic practices ahead of all others. It is a flawed program that should never have survived this long. They are masquerading as a legitimate process but in reality their agenda is to promote organics as the standard for sustainability. In fact organic production has proven to be not sustainable and that is why 99% of agriculture today is no longer organic.

  2. The actions by these is understandable because they have lost sight of the philosophy of continuous improvement and how that will shape growing techniques over decades and is not a quick record keeping practice for which they are rewarded with a plaque and a their picture in print. Whatever growers have done today to reach some level of certification towards sustainability will seem inadequate in the future as the knowledge base increases in the area of organic nutrient alternatives and Integrated Pest Management. The standards must identify the highest aspirations of the principals to have as the ultimate goal but does not require any grower to adopt any product or method the grower does not deem practical for their situation. The scope of the subject matter is vast and will take what some deem too much time to sort out and implement with ever increasing levels of accomplishment. The road to sustainability is a process not a destination

  3. Who is going to survive being all “organic”? Using no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc. will make our yields “unsustainable” to stay in business. The tofu eating, sandal wearing, hemp bracelet dweebs at the Leonardo Academy are pencil necked geek academics and not anyone who has to run a business, pay his bills, pay his workers, and take what’s left for him or herself.

  4. Something is wrong when three people of this standing in our industry are unable to work within this organization. Metrolina is an industry leader in sustainable practices, Doug has played a leading roll in implementing sustainable practices and Ball has a long history promoting (and following) best industry practices. I have seen continuous improvements implemented at Metrolina, one of the latest, a 32 megawatt biomass heating plant. The greenhouse industry is following leaders like Metrolina and Houweling Nursery to a profitable, greener, sustainable future in spite of organizations like this.

    Check this out: http://www.houwelings.com/

    I am a tofu eating, sandal wearing person who supports green initiatives, runs a business, pays his bills, pays his workers and makes a profit for himself. ‘green’ can be synonymous with ‘profit’

    Let’s get on with it.

  5. From the start the Leonardo Academy has had as it’s goal to promote organic growing practices as the standard for sustainability to the detriment of 99% of Agriculture and Horticulture in the United States. Their process is heavily biased to put organic practices ahead of all others. It is a flawed program that should never have survived this long. They are masquerading as a legitimate process but in reality their agenda is to promote organics as the standard for sustainability. In fact organic production has proven to be not sustainable and that is why 99% of agriculture today is no longer organic.

  6. The actions by these is understandable because they have lost sight of the philosophy of continuous improvement and how that will shape growing techniques over decades and is not a quick record keeping practice for which they are rewarded with a plaque and a their picture in print. Whatever growers have done today to reach some level of certification towards sustainability will seem inadequate in the future as the knowledge base increases in the area of organic nutrient alternatives and Integrated Pest Management. The standards must identify the highest aspirations of the principals to have as the ultimate goal but does not require any grower to adopt any product or method the grower does not deem practical for their situation. The scope of the subject matter is vast and will take what some deem too much time to sort out and implement with ever increasing levels of accomplishment. The road to sustainability is a process not a destination

  7. Who is going to survive being all “organic”? Using no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, etc. will make our yields “unsustainable” to stay in business. The tofu eating, sandal wearing, hemp bracelet dweebs at the Leonardo Academy are pencil necked geek academics and not anyone who has to run a business, pay his bills, pay his workers, and take what’s left for him or herself.

  8. Something is wrong when three people of this standing in our industry are unable to work within this organization. Metrolina is an industry leader in sustainable practices, Doug has played a leading roll in implementing sustainable practices and Ball has a long history promoting (and following) best industry practices. I have seen continuous improvements implemented at Metrolina, one of the latest, a 32 megawatt biomass heating plant. The greenhouse industry is following leaders like Metrolina and Houweling Nursery to a profitable, greener, sustainable future in spite of organizations like this.

    Check this out: http://www.houwelings.com/

    I am a tofu eating, sandal wearing person who supports green initiatives, runs a business, pays his bills, pays his workers and makes a profit for himself. ‘green’ can be synonymous with ‘profit’

    Let’s get on with it.

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