Global buyers of food products want to know they source is sustainable and given most any measure, U.S. farmers are efficient and sustainable, but you have to tell the customer that. The United Soybean Board and the soy checkoff are committed to helping demonstrate that fact including a partnership with the National Institute for Sustainable Agriculture. NISA has an Internet questionnaire to help gather data to show U.S. soybean farmers already use sustainable management practices.
Chuck Prellwitz, a former soy checkoff farmer-director and current NISA board member says: "We don't want a list of standards U.S. farmers have to meet that are created by people who know nothing about today's agriculture. Instead, we want a way of measuring what farmers have already done to grow their products sustainably."
Farmers can visit www.CoolBean.info to complete the confidential and anonymous Soybean Assessment Tool or Whole-Farm Assessment Tool questionnaires. Prellwitz encourages all U.S. farmers to participate.
The results will be segmented by region because best management practices are dependent on factors that vary regionally, such as soil, water, and weather. As one way of demonstrating soy's sustainability performance, the checkoff and NISA could use the data to show U.S. soy customers the share of U.S. farmers who have adopted sustainable best management practices appropriate for their region.
The soy checkoff has already conducted an independent, third-party life-cycle assessment that demonstrates the sustainability performance of U.S. soy production and processing. The checkoff also continues to support the Fieldprint Calculator, another sustainability tool that U.S. farmers may use for free. This tool can show farmers the effects of various farm-management decisions on the sustainability performance of their farm, including the financial impacts of those decisions.
So spend a few minutes on the computer, complete a few questionnaire or two. It's time that will be well invested as sustainability questions and issues grow in importance here and abroad.