Included below are some documents and links to various resources regarding sustainability policies and practices that you may find useful.

We will be adding and updating this section on a regular basis.

2016 National Indicators Report

In its third edition, the 2016 National Indicators Report analyzes sustainability trends over time at the national scale for commodity crops utilizing the eight environmental indicators in Field to Market’s Supply Chain Sustainability Program and five additional social and economic sustainability indicators. Field to Market takes stock of long-term trends from 1980 to 2015 to assess the sustainability performance of commodity crop agriculture against those indicators.

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Defining Sustainability

This article, written by Gary Blumenthal of World Perspectives, Inc., points out that, although sustainability is most acutely described as the ability to continue a defined behavior indefinitely,  moving beyond that statement and finding agreement on what is sustainable when it comes to producing and distributing food has proven more problematic. Indeed, one complaint is that a plethora of eco-branding certification bodies use disparate metrics, likely leading to confusion by consumers.

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The Role of Research in Food and Nutrition Security

Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life is the theme of the 99th World Expo in Milan in 2015. To elaborate this theme, the EU established a scientific steering committee to advise on the challenges of global food and nutrition security. The Expo 2015 EU Scientific Steering Committee has produced this “discussion paper” to launch a debate, to foster cross-disciplinary exchange, define research questions, and identify the EU’s role in addressing global food and nutrition security.  The European Commission also launched an online consultation on how science and innovation can help the EU ensure safe, nutritious, sufficient and sustainable food globally. The consultation is available online for input by all interested stakeholders until 1 September. The results of the consultation will be published on 15 October, ahead of World Food Day. The online Consultation can be found here.

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U.S. Policies and Laws in Support of Sustainability

This comprehensive set of papers summarizes major U.S. federal laws that affect the crop, livestock, fishery and forestry sectors. An overview is provided for each major law or policy area, along with background on why the policy was enacted, details on the program’s operation and administration, and the statutory basis (references to the U.S. Code [U.S.C.]). It also provides links to web-based information on each policy area with emphasis on official U.S. government sites. The document contains all the policies and laws found in the U.S. Sustainability section of this web site.

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U.S. Soybean Sustainability Assurance Protocol

The U.S. Sustainability Assurance Protocol describes the regulations, processes and management practices that ensure sustainable soybean production in the U.S. It outlines four directives to which soybean producers adhere: 1. Biodiversity and High Carbon Stock Production Control Measures and Regulations; 2. Production Practices Control Measures and Regulations; 3. Public and Labor Health and Welfare Control Measures and Regulations; and 4. Continuous Improvement of Production Practices and Environmental Protection Control Measures and Regulations. It also provides details of the audit and certification procedures under the Protocol.

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Creating a Sustainable Food Future, World Resources Institute

This report analyzes the challenge of improving the way we produce and consume food and identifies promising technical options from a comprehensive “menu” of practical, scalable strategies that could close the food gap while simultaneously reducing pressure on the environment and providing valuable economic and social benefits. It presents the interim findings of the World Resources Report 2013–2014: Creating a Sustainable Food Future, a collaboration of the World Resources Institute, the United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Environment Program, and the World Bank.

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Additionality in U.S. Agricultural Conservation and Regulatory Offset Programs

Conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service, this study estimates additionality in various conservation programs in the U.S. “Additionality” is achieved when a conservation program payment results in actions that improve environmental performance of the farm and that would not have occurred without the payment. The report measures additionality for a number of common conservation practices typically supported by voluntary conservation payments and examines ways to increase additionality.

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A Brief Overview of U.S. Agricultural Conservation Policy

This power point presentation provides an overview of agricultural conservation policies in the U.S. It outlines objectives of conservation programs, annual spending, and compliance. The presentation was compiled by Dr. Roger Claassen, Senior Agricultural Economist with the Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.

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New Techniques Genetic Crop Improvement

The report sets out the position of the U.K.’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) on new and emerging genetic techniques that have the potential to contribute to producing crops with improved performance. It ascertains that, with the pressing need for agriculture to produce more output with less input, and to do so sustainably within social, political, economic and environmental contexts, genetic crop improvement can contribute towards solving this complex problem. It outlines key messages, techniques and some genetic approaches for crop improvement.

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Sustainability of Growing Importance to the Soy Sector

This article, written by John Baize, provides an overview of some of the efforts undertaken to certify the soy sector as sustainable. Because U.S. soybean farmers must comply with strict federal and state regulations relative to the environment, labor, land rights and other factors,U.S. soybean farmer organizations have declined to join such certification schemes because they believe they are already adhering to more rigid standards. By finding ways to produce higher yields while using less energy, fertilizers and crop protectants, farmers can decrease their cost of production and protect the soil as well as reduce water and air pollution.

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