The Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops, comprising more than 30 leading growers, suppliers, buyers, technical experts and environmental groups, is publically stepping into the sustainability arena.
The group was formed to develop a comprehensive system for measuring specialty crops sustainable performance sacross the supply chain, according to a news release.
Unlike other sustainability initiaties, the stewardship index will not seek to prescribe standards or define a specific level of performance as "sustainable."
Instead it aims to provide a system for measuring stewardship performance by focusing on desired outcomes.
"A consensus approach to measuring sustainable performance will allow individuals to demonstrate their performance using common terms," says Hank Giclas of Western Growers. "This approach will provide an opportunity to communicate the many practices employed by the industry to promote the 'people, planet and profit' pillars of sustainability and benchmark our efforts for continual improvement."
The project will address the unique needs of specialty crop stakeholders while demonstrably improving environmental and social impacts.
The group also seeks to reduce the potential for duplicate monitoring and reporting systems, while allowing operators to engage in sustainable practices regardless of their current level of performance.
The National Potato Council is a member of the group, as are Western Growers, Wine Institute, California Association of Winegrape Growers, Produce Marketing Association, United Fresh Produce Association, Heinz, Wal-Mart and the Environmental Defense Fund, among others.