(June 11, 10:47 a.m., PACKER WEB EXCLUSIVE) A national standard for sustainable agricultural practices was announced on May 16 by the American National Standards Institute.

The standard — the Sustainable Agriculture Practice Standard for Food, Fiber, and Biofuel Crop Producers and Agricultural Produce Handlers and Processors — addresses the sustainability effects of agricultural production and encompasses the entire supply chain, including suppliers, seed providers, growers, processors, distributors, retailers and end-users.

Now under the direction of Leonardo Academy, Madison, Wis., the standard was originally developed by Scientific Certifications Systems, Emeryville, Calif., said Amanda Raster, project manager for the academy.

Under the guidance of National Science Foundation, Arlington, Va., Scientific Certifications Systems published the initial draft in April 2007. That fall, the Leonardo Academy replaced the foundation in the role of standard development organization, Raster said.

“Sustainability is a huge part of the dialogue these days, especially within agriculture,” Raster said. “Our work is to notify people and encourage them to get involved with the goal of creating a standard committee — a core committee that creates a final standard that will be submitted for public approval by ANSCI.”


With the goal of encouraging the development of best practices in sustainable crop production and handling, the standard also seeks to define what sustainable means to the industry.

“There’s so many different ideas of what sustainable is,” Raster said. “There’s been increasing interest in practicing sustainable agriculture and defining what sustainability is … This is a way to bring more producers to the table by having everyone look at their practices.”

The standard is voluntary, she said.

“It may take a number of years before consumers recognize this standard is out there,” Raster said. “Awareness will be building during the development process. But given the interest in the green movement among consumers, it may change buying practices.”