Monday, August 29, 2011 by Kathy Means
Stewardship Index work on metrics gets government grant
The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops will receive one of 52 Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) from the USDA to advance its work. As you know, the index is a multi-stakeholder initiative to develop a system for measuring sustainable performance throughout the specialty crop supply chain. The project seeks to offer a suite of outcomes-based metrics to enable operators at any point along the supply chain to benchmark, compare, and communicate their own performance.
Through CIG, the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is investing nearly $22.5 million in innovative conservation technologies and approaches that address a broad array of existing and emerging natural resource issues. NRCS chief Dave White said: “These grants will help some of America’s top agricultural and conservation institutions, foundations and businesses develop unique approaches to enhancing and protecting natural resources on agricultural land. Their creativity and problem-solving will benefit conservation-minded farmers and ranchers, and everyone who relies upon our nation’s natural resources for food and fiber.”
This grant of nearly $762,000 follows a prior grant of $630,000 to work on piloting the metrics. The index received renewal funding to continue an unprecedented collaboration amongst the nation’s most influential grower organizations, NGOs and buyers of specialty crop products.
PMA has supported the index since its inception and serves on the Coordinating Council and Steering Committee. By creating standard metrics for our industry to use in measuring sustainability efforts, we seek to reduce the multiplicity of measuring schemes and demands on companies. To do that, we need continuing input from industry. Check out the website to see how you can be involved in pilots or provide input on the metrics.