Sustainable Standards Move Back To Square One

Sustainable Standards Move Back To Square One

It’s back to the drawing board for the committee that met to begin working on national sustainable agriculture standards. Last week, the group decided the proposed draft standard was not workable in its current form or developed with sufficient input from agricultural producers and allied suppliers who would be affected. Instead, it will be set aside as a reference, and the committee will start all over and conduct a needs assessment for a national sustainable standard.

The draft standard was developed by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and submitted to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in April 2007. SCS also developed the VeriFlora certification program for cut flowers and potted plants and hired Leonardo Academy to facilitate the process to develop national standards for sustainable agriculture.

Over the summer, Leonardo Academy appointed 58 people representing various segments of agricultural production, food and clothing manufacturing, retail, government, academia and environmental and labor organizations to serve on the standards committee charged with the task of reaching consensus on creating a national standard for sustainable agriculture by April 2010. The standards committee held its first meeting Sept. 25 and 26 in Madison, Wisc. Eight representatives from floriculture were appointed to the committee.

When committee members began to discuss the standard as proposed, it became clear they needed to start all over to establish a shared vision and guiding principles, and more importantly, determine true market needs and if there’s enough buy-in to even pursue national certification standards. The standards committee will be forming working groups to:
– Conduct a needs assessment for the sustainability standard, including potential market and agricultural applications.
– Review and articulate the mission, principles and scope of work ahead.
– Collect reference documents to inform the standard-setting process.
– Report on potential methodologies and indicators for measuring various aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability.
– Identify potential funding sources to support full stakeholder participation in the process.
– Outline outreach opportunities for soliciting involvement from all affected stakeholders.

The committee also will review existing standards and certification programs in the global market and see if they can be incorporated or harmonized. One program that has worked really well for growers in Europe is MPS.

“The issues involved in sustainable agriculture are complex,” says Dr. James Barrett, environmental horticulture department professor at the University of Florida, who served as interim chair of the meeting. “As a result, there are many diverse, valid points of view that will need to be articulated and considered as this process unfolds.”

Key issues include:
– The relationship between organic, mainstream and sustainable agriculture.
– The place of genetically engineered crops in sustainable agriculture.
– The degree to which sustainable agriculture standards should establish a path for continuous improvement.
– Inclusiveness of small and mid-size farms, as well as mainstream and conventional agriculture.
– The sequestration of carbon in soils and the role of agriculture in the global fight against climate change.
– The strength of labor protections.
– The intersection of product safety and sustainability.
– Whether the scope of the standard should extend beyond plant agriculture to include livestock and other sectors of agriculture.

Earlier this year, when many growers who supply Wal-Mart were undergoing VeriFlora certification audits, labor requirements were a big bone of contention because the certification promoted the ability for grower employees to unionize and Wal-Mart is anti-union. VeriFlora will continue its efforts and is not affected by the draft standard based on its model being set aside.

Before the standards committee met, Leonardo Academy faced objections from many key agricultural groups, including USDA and North American Horticultural Supply Association (NAHSA).

USDA voiced its displeasure earlier this summer over the potential impact of the proposed standard and the process designed to create it in a letter to Leonardo Academy President Michael Arny.

NAHSA also recently spoke out in a letter to Arny, and it contacted USDA after obtaining a copy of the USDA letter to Leonardo Academy. NAHSA asked USDA to continue voicing its own concerns over the standards because they fall in direct line with its own thinking. Leonardo Academy did, however, respond to USDA’s initial letter earlier this summer.

“Our association, along with many others in the horticultural sector, applied for membership on the stakeholder committee, following all rules and the procedure of the Leonardo Academy during application. We were denied a seat on the committee,” wrote Sarah Hagy, executive director of NAHSA, in her letter to USDA. “We feel the slated committee is unable to offer an informed and balanced opinion regarding horticultural growers and retailers and will not be able to provide the expertise and insight to represent our industry.”

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, part of the United States Department of Commerce, also supported USDA’s stance in a letter to Procedures and Standards Administration Accreditation Services. OFA published the letter in an e-bulletin this week.

At Greenhouse Grower, we are pleased the committee decided to start over instead of fighting over the draft standards as presented. This is great news and has restored our faith that those who were chosen to represent agriculture are listening.

Topics:

Leave a Reply

10 comments on “Sustainable Standards Move Back To Square One

  1. Who are the representatives from Floriculture?

    What kind of authority does this “Leonardo Committee” have?

    Who appointed them? Themselves?

  2. Common sense prevailed. I am strongly opposed to a national sustainability standard. The complexity and cost do not justify the benefits. It looks like a greenwashing scheme. Look at the LEED program. They are down to certifying gas stations as green buildings. BP figured it was a good payback on the $100k certification investment for PR. It is a fruitless game. We need to be good stewards of the land and the environment and good neighbors first and foremost. The SCS has no right to regulate, govern and tax us.
    I strongly support the Florida BMP Nursery Container program in which we participate. It is supported by University of Florida research and the FNGLA. I encourage you search it, read it and follow it or something similar for your locale and environment. This makes sense.

  3. I have always thought that “buying sustainable” was a “feel good” way to justify driving an Escalade while living in a neghborhood of McMansions on five acres lots. gimmeabreak!
    As a retailer I have NEVER had a customer ask for “sustainable” products.

  4. Who are the representatives from Floriculture?

    What kind of authority does this “Leonardo Committee” have?

    Who appointed them? Themselves?

  5. Common sense prevailed. I am strongly opposed to a national sustainability standard. The complexity and cost do not justify the benefits. It looks like a greenwashing scheme. Look at the LEED program. They are down to certifying gas stations as green buildings. BP figured it was a good payback on the $100k certification investment for PR. It is a fruitless game. We need to be good stewards of the land and the environment and good neighbors first and foremost. The SCS has no right to regulate, govern and tax us.
    I strongly support the Florida BMP Nursery Container program in which we participate. It is supported by University of Florida research and the FNGLA. I encourage you search it, read it and follow it or something similar for your locale and environment. This makes sense.

  6. I have always thought that “buying sustainable” was a “feel good” way to justify driving an Escalade while living in a neghborhood of McMansions on five acres lots. gimmeabreak!
    As a retailer I have NEVER had a customer ask for “sustainable” products.

More From State of the Industry...

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Genetically Engineered Petunias

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Available for Download

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand Viewing

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More
Latest Stories

May 23, 2017

USDA-APHIS Bulletin on Unauthorized Distribution of Gen…

On May 2, 2017, USDA-APHIS was informed that an orange petunia variety was potentially genetically engineered and had been imported and moved interstate without required authorization by APHIS. This led to testing of numerous petunia varieties, which confirmed this particular variety and several others are genetically engineered, and meet the regulatory definition of a regulated article under APHIS regulations. APHIS continues to work with the industry to ensure unauthorized GE petunias are not distributed in the United States.

Read More

March 2, 2017

Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Whitepaper Avai…

This year’s survey featured a record 975 respondents and tackled topics such as sales trends, technology, major industry challenges and opportunities, and much more.

Read More
Greenhouse Grower State of the Industry Webinar

February 27, 2017

State of the Industry Webinar Available for On-Demand V…

The half-hour presentation includes an analysis of Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry survey, along with insights from horticulture industry leaders.

Read More

February 11, 2017

Poinsettia Survey Reveals Growers Increased Poinsettia …

On average, growers responding to Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia Survey said the poinsettia season was “good,”Here’s a glance at the outlook for poinsettias in the marketplace.

Read More

January 25, 2017

59 New Members of Congress Need to Hear from You, SAF S…

Retailers, wholesalers, suppliers, and growers coming to the Society of American Florists' (SAF) 37th Annual Congressional Action Days, March 13-14 in Washington, DC, have a lot of explaining to do. There are 59 new congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill, and this freshmen class needs a lesson about floriculture.

Read More
bouldin-lawson-pro-sticking-line-at-north-creek-nurseries

January 25, 2017

State of the Industry 2017: Growers are Ready to Invest…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that grower investment in technology is imminent due to the cost and availability of labor, to improve efficiency, expand their growing operations, and allow employees to concentrate on higher value jobs that are less labor-intensive.

Read More

January 24, 2017

Growers are an Aging Demographic, 2017 State of the Ind…

Owners and upper management of growing operations in the horticulture industry, not unlike others in agriculture, are aging, according to Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State of the Industry Survey.

Read More
Biocontrols and beneficials absolutely can be used in outdoor production, with the use of banker plant systems

January 24, 2017

Growers Becoming More Sustainable but Most Think Climat…

Greenhouse Grower's 2017 State of the Industry Survey revealed that growers are adopting biocontrols and organic production, yet 58% of growers said they don't believe humans can control climate change.

Read More

January 24, 2017

State of the Industry Survey Says 2017 Will be a Year o…

Growers, suppliers, and researchers who took Greenhouse Grower’s 2017 State Of The Industry Survey say they are ready to drive change and profitability in horticultural businesses.

Read More
Moana plant yard

January 4, 2017

Green Industry Poised for Continued Economic Growth in …

Positive economic indicators point to 2017 being a year of modest growth for the green industry, according to economist Charlie Hall.

Read More

January 3, 2017

Growing Optimism for the Horticulture Industry in 2017

With a new administration and a new Congress, AmericanHort's Craig Regelbrugge says the horticulture industry has reason to be cautiously optimistic that regulatory relief could be on the horizon.

Read More
Bees on flowers

October 11, 2016

Bees Endangered? Here’s The Rest Of The Story

Recently, mainstream media reported that certain bee species have been placed on the endangered species list, but the situation isn’t as dire as one might think.

Read More
cuttings-facility

September 27, 2016

How Global Suppliers Of Unrooted Cuttings Are Working T…

The world’s top vegetative producers discuss how they continue to evolve to overcome challenges and embrace opportunities to help growers and the varieties supply chain.

Read More
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
young-plants

September 20, 2016

The Top Young Plant Growers, And Four Critical Challeng…

In Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Top Young Plant Growers Survey, growers discuss the latest challenges and opportunities in fulfillment, shipping, labor, and crop protection.

Read More

August 13, 2016

Plants Sales Are Up For Fourth Straight Year, According…

Growers declared spring 2016 to be a success in Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 State Of The Industry: Spring Crops Recap Survey.

Read More
Joe Bischoff

July 26, 2016

SAF Partners With Cornerstone Government Affairs To Adv…

A new partnership between the Society of American Florists (SAF) and Cornerstone Government Affairs ensures that SAF will continue its highly effective work advocating for issues that affect the floriculture industry. “SAF and Cornerstone together provide experienced voices on Capitol Hill to protect our growers’ interests,” says SAF CEO Peter Moran. “We’ll continue to move major policy priorities forward on behalf of small business and agriculture.” Cornerstone is a public affairs firm specializing in government relations, strategic consulting, and advocacy. Its team of more than 50 senior professionals includes former senior professional staff from both authorization and appropriations committees and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as veterans of the horticulture industry. Agricultural and horticultural issues of primary concern to SAF members include access to labor, immigration, crop protection, international trade and other matters related to the day-to-day operations of growers. Before she retired this year, SAF lobbyist Lin […]

Read More

July 26, 2016

AFE Releases New Videos Highlighting Industry Successes

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) recently released five new videos, created to highlight floriculture successes through industry collaboration, support, and participation. “Each video shares real stories from industry members on career development through scholarships and internships, and true examples of research solutions that have shaped how the industry operates today,” says Laura Shinall, President of Syndicate Sales, Inc., and AFE Public Relations and Development Chair. “We’re excited to be able to share some great success stories in an effort to increase industry participation.” The introductory video “Heard of the American Floral Endowment?” helps educate those who aren’t currently aware of AFE’s programs, while other segmented videos (retail, wholesale, grower) share how Endowment programs complement each group and why it’s so important that everyone in the industry participates: Retail Florists Share Why They Turn to AFE New Resources for Floral Wholesalers and Suppliers AFE Helping Growers Profit Ready for a Career in Floriculture or Horticulture? […]

Read More