SureHarvest, Soquel, Calif., will receive a $630,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on behalf of the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, to pilot test emerging metrics for sustainability performance of specialty crop production.
"These funds represent an important investment by the USDA to increase adoption of conservation practices by creating a standard set of metrics for growers and agrifood companies to assess their sustainability performance, find greater efficiencies and cost reduction opportunities, and win recognition in the marketplace for sustainability performance,” Jeff Dlott, president of SureHarvest, said in a release.
The grant will be used to draft metrics for air quality, biodiversity and habitat, community, energy, human resources, plant nutrients, packaging, pesticides, soil quality, waste, water quality and water use that will quantify stewardship performance.
The metrics will then be tested to demonstrate that using them can improve conservation performance and provide value to supply chain participants.
Funds also will be used to design an industrywide consensus on an online tool and data management system for data collection and standardized reporting.
"Getting industrywide agreement on how to measure sustainability is a win for everyone,” Jonathan Kaplan, senior policy specialist for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in the release.
"The stewardship index will help operators find greater efficiencies, demonstrate actual progress in meeting sustainability goals and enable all participants, at any performance level, to join the process.”