(Posted Thu. Jan 26th, 2012)

Sustainability IconJan. 26: The National Corn Growers Association’s Production and Stewardship Action Team traveled to Fresno, Calif., this week to tackle issues related to sustainability, water quality and other conservation and environmental concerns.


At the meeting, Gary Edwards and Ken McCauley, who serve as NCGA organizational appointees on two sustainability initiatives, spoke to growers about sustainability efforts in the agricultural industry.


McCauley, an NCGA past president who farms in eastern Kansas, discussed the importance of corn farmers playing an active role in the development of farm management systems that will help producers to achieve verifiable sustainability outcomes that satisfy performance expectations of manufacturing supply chains and still maintain farm productivity.


Such is the mission of the National Institute of Sustainable Agriculture, McCauley noted, which expects to implement model systems developed through producer leadership and participation in November of 2012 across a variety of crops and regions. McCauley stressed the importance of farmers making sure sustainability efforts in production agriculture do not run counter to yield and operational productivity.


Gary Edwards demonstrated to the group the Field to Market’s FieldPrint calculator.


“This calculator is a step in the right direction for farmers to discover the management practices applicable to their operations, which achieve sustainable results without sacrificing productivity,” said Edwards.


The team also heard a presentation by Debbie Reed of the Coalition on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases, regarding large global corporations’ approaches to sustainability. Reed talked about corporations linking their need to secure an adequate supply of agricultural resources to grow their businesses to corporate social responsibility. She described how Mars, one of the world’s leading food manufacturers, realized that they needed to work in cooperation with farmers to adapt more sustainable production practices in order to secure the cocoa supply need to grow their global businesses. Reed also urged farmers to take a leadership role in defining what sustainable agriculture will mean to the global food chain.


The meeting will include a visit Thursday to the University of California’s Kearney Ag Research Center as well as Golden State Feed and Grain. Before they conclude their work Friday, the team members also will have presentations from the Western Plant Health Association and the California Farm Bureau.