The multi-stakeholder standards committee working to develop a national standard for sustainable agriculture recently held its third face-to-face meeting over two days at the University-of Arkansas-Fayetteville.
At the meeting, committee members discussed and then voted to approve guiding sustainability principles developed by the economic, social and environmental criteria subcommittees. Principles related to farm management and planning; labor rights; water, soil, and air pollution; soil health, fertility, and productivity; farm inputs and outputs; biodiversity; and greenhouse gases will now move forward as the basis for criteria, indicators and metrics. In addition, the committee members approved structure and process documents designed to facilitate standards development.
"We have come a long way since our meeting in St. Charles last year," says Jim Pierce, a committee member representing the Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association. "In addition to assuring the subcommittees that they are on the right track, we are thoughtfully addressing matters related to standard structure, as well as the development process itself, which will help to ensure successful standards writing as we continue to move forward."
Additionally, the committee voted in favor of a timeline to facilitate the completion of the standard by Fall 2012.
"The standards committee and subcommittees have been working together amazingly well – way beyond my expectations," says Russell Williams, a committee member who represents the American Farm Bureau. Moving forward, the standards committee and chartered subcommittees will complete the remaining guiding principles and begin developing metrics and indicators to support fulfillment of the principles set forth for agricultural sustainability.
Learn more about the developing sustainable agriculture standard at LeonardoAcademy.org.