The possibility of national agriculture standards is closer following a recent meeting of a committee formed to develop a U.S. standard for sustainable agriculture. A National Sustainable Agriculture Standards Committee of 48 members gathered in Illinois in early June to review recommendations and address key issues to move forward with developing the national standards.
The Committee agreed that the standard should "encourage the widespread adoption of agricultural production and handling practices that are ecologically responsible, equitable, economically viable, science-based, meet global demand for a full range of agricultural products and ensure that future generations are able to meet their own needs." The committee agreed that the process should initially focus on activities up to the farm gate and later expanded to include post-farm gate considerations and also be limited to crop production.
Standards Committee Chairman, Dr. Marty Matlock, said, “The process of conceptualizing and developing metrics for sustainable agriculture is moving forward.” He said committee members and stakeholders spent the last six months reviewing the need for a standard, defining the process and creating a library of standards, metrics, reports and materials.
Members remarked that the definition of sustainability in agriculture has been debated for decades. What was previously thought of as sustainable may no longer be so considering climate changes, water shortages, severe weather and demand for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. All of the varying technologies, such as agrochemicals, integrated pest management, crop rotation, biotechnology and nanotechnology, used by farmers must be considered.
Leonardo Academy is the ANSI-accredited standards development organization facilitating the standard setting process.