FIELD TO MARKET ENTERS NEW STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT

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(Posted Thu. Apr 25th, 2013)

Apr. 25: The National Corn Growers Association was represented by two corn growers at Field to Market’s first board meeting as an independent non-profit organization, held earlier this month in Memphis, Tenn. Along with receiving updates on current projects and activities, participants engaged in discussions to identify shared values within the agricultural commodity supply chain, metric and tool development, and communications.

“Our food industry is looking for opportunities throughout the supply chain to use metrics to promote continuous improvement in commodity agriculture,” said NCGA Production and Stewardship Action Team member Gary Edwards of Iowa. “We are taking what we’ve learned from Field to Market’s early pilots to refine program guidelines, and at the same time expanding the metrics in the Fieldprint Calculator.”

The Fieldprint Calculator’s new water quality metrics are in the final stages of third-party testing before release. It uses the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Water Quality Index, which determines a qualitative relationship between management practices and potential edge-of-field discharge that could impact water quality. The next metric to be integrated will be a field’s biodiversity potential for supporting habitat.

“The intent will be for the calculator to provide insight into how increased productivity on current farmland can reduce the need for land conversion elsewhere and allow us to maintain a diverse ecosystem,” said NCGA Corn Board member Keith Alverson, a South Dakota corn farmer.

Going forward, Field to Market will be looking for solutions other than traceability that connect farm improvements to products.

“Given the diversity of our farmland, it is imperative that we look at specific targets,” said Edwards. “To broaden farmer participation, we must show a commitment to continuous improvement, through the use of the third party verified metrics in the Fieldprint Calculator in a proven and verified process that easily shares efforts and best practices.”