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.