The word “sustainability” may be a bit over-used in agriculture, but it is way more than a buzz word as evidenced by the 2019 Sustainable Ag Summit held in Indianapolis this week. More than 650 people converged on the event hosted by Field to Market, Pork Checkoff, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy and the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops and attended by representatives of National Corn Growers Association and the Soil Health Partnership.
“We had a lot of technical discussions with groups ranging from farmers, suppliers, processors, manufacturers, retailers, academics, conservation groups and public sector representatives. But to me a big take-away was the growing comfort level between these diverse participants,” said NCGA Stewardship and Sustainability Director Rachel Orf. “We’re trying to establish agriculture as a driver of large-scale, sustainable solutions that will meet consumer’s needs, but we don’t have to do it alone.”
The summit is the fifth such meeting hosted by Field to Market and the common thread according to Orf is that partnerships between private and public companies/organizations are the keys to progress. She says those partnerships will be driven by education, communication and common goals.
“The growing comfort level discussed at the summit really boils down to one word…trust. Progressing and communicating sustainability takes non-traditional partnerships and we all have a role,” said NCGA Market Development Director, Sarah McKay. “Meetings like this build trust and will help farmers in their mission to drive continuous improvement on the farm.”
Orf and McKay confirmed there is also growing awareness amongst the partners that keeping farmers economically viable is fundamental to building a coordinated and comprehensive approach to sustainability. For farmers, there is an opportunity to leverage these partnerships to drive progress and make innovation more accessible and affordable.