A New Standard for Sustainable Agriculture

If you’re in the floral industry, or if you’re a "stakeholder" when it comes to sustainability in agriculture of any kind, you’ll want to know about a meeting coming up on October 29.  (This meeting is not open to the general public, but to  "companies, organizations, scientists, regulators and others working on
sustainable agriculture issues for food, floral, fiber, and biofuel crops."  There’s contact info below about who to contact to get an invite.)

The short version is:  The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets voluntary standards for all kinds of industries.  Once an ANSI standard exists for a particular industry, it can often become the default for laws, regulations, etc.  So if you’re in the cut flower industry, or any other sector of agriculture, and you’re concerned about organics and sustainability, you should be paying attention to the new set of ANSI standards for sustainable agriculture under discussion right now. "Sustainable" is one of those words that everyone defines differently, but now there will be an ANSI standard that explains exactly what it means for agriculture.

One subset of the Sustainable Agriculture Practice Standard is devoted to cut flowers and potted plants.  The standards were developed by SCS and are already in use through their VeriFlora eco-label program.

Those in the cut flower and nursery industry know that there are already a hodgepodge of sustainability programs and standards around the world.  Now that the standard that began as VeriFlora is under consideration as an ANSI standard, we’re perhaps seeing some progress toward a single standard for the entire industry.

The entire press release follows.  If you’re a stakeholder, consider getting in touch about providing input at the upcoming stakeholder meeting.

National Sustainable Agriculture Standard Setting Process to be Launched This Fall
Industry, Regulatory, Environmental, Labor and Academic

Emeryville, CA- Formal proceedings to establish the first national standard for sustainable agriculture will be launched in late October.  All interested stakeholders are invited to help shape this standard under a transparent, multi-stakeholder consensus-based process governed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The draft standard for trial use recently published by ANSI, "Sustainable Agriculture Practice Standard for Food, Fiber and Biofuel Crop Producers and Agricultural Product Handlers and Processors" (SCS-001), will serve as the foundation for this effort.   The draft standard was developed by Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), a third-party certifier and developer of sustainability and food sector standards, in consultation with numerous stakeholders.  The draft standard is already in use as the basis for certifying sustainably produced cut flowers and potted plants.

"With so many new sustainable agriculture initiatives now underway, the time has come to establish a non-proprietary national benchmark against which these initiatives can be assessed," said Linda Brown, SCS Executive Vice President. "Through the ANSI process, the collective wisdom of stakeholders representing many points of view can be brought together."

The Leonardo Academy, an ANSI-accredited standards development organization (SDO), will facilitate the ANSI stakeholder standard-setting process, starting with the initial stakeholder meeting to be held October 29-30 at the University of California, Berkeley.  Industry representatives, trade associations, government regulators, environmental and labor NGOs, and academicians are invited and encouraged to participate. 

"The ANSI Essential Requirements establish a balanced, transparent process for developing standards that are recognized nationally and internationally," said Michael Arny, President of Leonardo Academy.  "The role of the ANSI-accredited SDO is to ensure that the SDO’s ANSI-approved process is properly executed, and to ensure that all interested stakeholders have a place at the table."

The standard addresses environmental, socioeconomic, and product quality issues and is intended to be applicable to all agricultural crops marketed in the U.S.  Built from a life-cycle framework, the standard addresses both the product and its packaging, and includes measures such as the phase-out of dangerous agrochemicals, establishment of a path for transition to organic practices, and establishment of targets for energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emission reductions and soil carbon storage.  The standard applies to the entire supply chain, including producers, distributors, brokers, and retailers.

A copy of the draft standard for trial use can be downloaded from http://www.scscertified.com/programs/SCS-001_SusAgStdFP_041307-LEO.pdf

Sustainable Agriculture Stakeholder Meeting Details
The opening stakeholder meeting to launch the ANSI process to finalize the standard will take place on October 29 – 30 at the International House, University of California, Berkeley.  The agenda will include an orientation regarding the ANSI process, an overview of the Draft Standard for Trial Use, and the formation of working sub-committees to begin the work of refining the standard and developing agriculture-sector specific requirements.  Interested stakeholders should contact email hidden; JavaScript is required.      

About Scientific Certification Systems (SCS)
SCS is an independent certifier of environmental, sustainability, food quality and food purity claims.  Over two decades, SCS has developed internationally recognized standards and certification programs aimed at spurring the highest level of environmental improvements, social accountability and product performance.  Its programs span a wide cross-section of the economy, recognizing accomplishments in agricultural production, food processing and handling, forestry, fisheries, floriculture products, energy, green building, consumer and business product manufacturing, and retail.  SCS is an accredited certifier with the U.S. National Organic Program, the Forest Stewardship Council, and the Marine Stewardship Council. For more information about SCS, visit http://www.scscertified.com/ or call 510-452-8000.

About the Leonardo Academy
Leonardo Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1997 that is dedicated to advancing sustainability and putting the competitive market to work on improving the environment. Leonardo Academy is a Think and Do Tank.  It develops and distributes strategies, guidance, metrics, standards, tools, education, and information for increasing sustainability.  It helps companies, organizations, families, and individuals successfully promote, encourage, and implement sustainability.  For more information about Leonardo Academy, visit http://www.scscertified.com/ or call 608-280-0255.