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Cultivating Climate Resilience on Farms and Ranches outlines the best strategies for addressing climate risk in agriculture. Written by Laura Lengnick, this paper was adapted from her book Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate.

For Lengnick, the best strategies for addressing climate risk are already familiar to farmers and ranchers through practices commonly associated with sustainable agriculture, such as diversifying crops, livestock, enterprises and markets; improving soil health through cover crops, no-till, composting and other techniques; integrating crops and livestock; adopting management intensive grazing; reducing the use of off-farm inputs; and using whole-farm planning.  Recent research shows that U.S. producers have already made changes, or expect to make changes, to adapt to the more variable weather and extreme conditions they are witnessing.

According to the author, there is mounting evidence that agriculture can play an important role in the effort to slow climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that agricultural soils have the potential to sequester from 4 percent to 12 percent of total annual global greenhouse gas emissions, and a recent study by the Rodale Institute estimated that up to 100 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions could be sequestered if all the world’s agricultural lands were transitioned to regenerative organic practices.

This very resourceful paper includes graphics showing climate patterns across the United States. The paper is broken down into four parts:

Part One: Understanding Climate Risk
Part Two: Understanding Climate Resilience
Part Three: Managing Resources for Climate Resilience
Part Four: Getting Started: Exploring Your Risks and Assessing Your Options

View the full report.

The post Mitigating Climate Risk in Agriculture appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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EU needs to balance food production and sustainability to protect the environment.

The European Union (EU) needs to achieve a better balance between food production and other sustainability goals in rural areas to protect the environment and enhance biodiversity, said the EU Budget Commissioner, Günther Oettinger.

Speaking at the 2017 EU Agricultural Outlook Conference this week, Oettinger said farmers must embrace digital and precision farming. “If farmers do not adjust to this they will not survive the next decade,” he added.

These warnings were echoed by Ms. Marion Guillou, Chairwoman of Agreenium, the French institute in Agro- Sciences. “We have to adapt European agriculture to growing uncertainty,” she said, referring also to the challenge of climate change and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture in Europe must shift towards a more sustainable model, recognizing, for example, health innovations, environmental services & the value of carbon sequestration in the soil

Also, at the Outlook Conference, the European Commission published three white papers examining the biggest environmental, economic, and social challenges faced by Europe’s agricultural sector. See here for the papers of other speakers and here for the environment, here for economic and here for social white papers.

Source: AgraFacts

The post EU needs to balance food production and sustainability to protect the environment appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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EU needs to balance food production and sustainability to protect the environment

The European Union (EU) needs to achieve a better balance between food production and other sustainability goals in rural areas such as protecting the environment and enhancing biodiversity, said the EU Budget Commissioner, Günther Oettinger.

Speaking at the 2017 EU Agricultural Outlook Conference this week, Oettinger said farmers must embrace digital and precision farming. “If farmers do not adjust to this they will not survive the next decade,” he added.

These warnings were echoed by Ms. Marion Guillou, Chairwoman of Agreenium, the French institute in Agro- Sciences. “We have to adapt European agriculture to growing uncertainty,” she said, referring also to the challenge of climate change and commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture in Europe must shift towards a more sustainable model, recognizing, for example, health innovations, environmental services & the value of carbon sequestration in the soil

Also, at the Outlook Conference, the European Commission published three white papers examining the biggest environmental, economic, and social challenges faced by Europe’s agricultural sector. See here for the papers of other speakers and here for the environment, here for economic and here for social white papers.

Source: AgraFacts

The post EU needs to balance food production and sustainability to protect the environment appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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By Anna Ryan, Bord Bia    

Origin Green is Ireland’s national food and drink sustainability programme. It is the first and only sustainability programme that is run on a national scale, uniting government, private sector and food retailers through Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, who are the semi-state body responsible for promoting Irish food and drink, both in Ireland and in international markets. Bord Bia’s mission is to drive through market insight and, in partnership with industry, the commercial success of a world class Irish food, drink and horticulture industry.

Ireland enjoys a strong reputation as a source of high quality food, drink and ingredients, with a temperate climate and green countryside, putting the country in a strong position for sustainable food and drink production. Agriculture is a very important industry in Ireland and therefore Bord Bia are taking great care to make sure food is produced in a sustainable way for future generations. This is where Origin Green comes into play.

Origin Green was first launched by Bord Bia in 2012. As a programme, Origin Green covers the full food and drink supply chain. Farmers participate in Bord Bia’s Sustainable Quality Assurance schemes. Food manufacturers sign up to the sustainability charter and develop a dedicated multi-annual sustainability plan and retail and foodservice operates also develop a sustainability plan. At each stage, the programme is independently verified and audited to ensure robustness and credibility.

Origin Green now covers all levels of the supply chain, an ambition of the programme from the very outset.

Origin Green at Farm Level

Bord Bia has been auditing and certifying good farming standards for over twenty years through its Quality Assurance schemes. Quality Assurance plays a fundamental role in promoting Irish food and horticulture, and provides a platform for consumer promotion of product quality. The schemes are built on best practice in farming and processing, current legislation, relevant industry guidelines and international standards. Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance schemes are accredited to the ISO17065/2012. Food safety, traceability, welfare, health and safety and environmental protection are the cornerstone of the standards.

In 2012, Bord Bia made plans to transition these Quality Assurance Schemes to Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes. This has involved incorporating sustainability initiatives and measures into the existing Quality Assurance audit, including areas such as biodiversity, use of water and social sustainability.

Farms that are part of the Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes are audited every 18 months, where data is compiled regarding the sustainability performance of the farm. Following their audit, each farmer is given a feedback report, which outlines ways in which the farmer can improve sustainability on their farm.

In 2014, Bord Bia introduced the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS), the first Quality Assurance scheme to have sustainability at its core. Today, over 85% of Ireland’s 18,000 dairy farmers have signed up to the scheme and it is expected that 100% of all of Ireland’s dairy farms will be signed up to the scheme by mid-2018.

In addition, the former beef and lamb Quality Assurance scheme has become the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS). Launched in April of this year, the scheme has 50,000 farmer members and over 165,000 carbon audits have been conducted on beef farms to date.

In November 2017, Bord Bia launched the Sustainable Egg Assurance Scheme, which marks the third farmer scheme to be converted to a Sustainable Assurance Scheme. It currently has over 240 certified members, covering 97% of Ireland’s egg production.

Bord Bia are currently in the process of converting all Quality Assurance Schemes to Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes.

Origin Green at the Food Manufacturing Level

Ireland’s food processors and manufacturers sign up to the Origin Green charter and develop targets within the areas of raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability. The targets set are specific, measurable and ambitious. Throughout this initial plan development stage, Bord Bia offer companies a range of support including workshops, guidance documents and one-to-one mentorship. Once a company’s sustainability plan is completed, it is sent to SGS, a leading inspection, verification and testing company, for verification.

Verified members of the programme must also submit an update to their plan on an annual basis, where they report on progress regarding their targets. These annual reviews are also verified by SGS.

The manufacturing element of Origin Green began with nine companies participating in a pilot phase of the programme in 2012. Today, the programme has surpassed 275 verified members. Each sustainability plan is independently verified by the SGS Group, which assesses the company’s progress in relation to targets set out in their individual charters.

Origin Green at Retail & Foodservice Level

An ambition of the Origin Green programme from the outset was to engage the entire Irish food and drink industry in sustainability. A milestone Origin Green hit in 2016 was extending the programme to retail and foodservice level, thereby including the entire supply chain.

Companies at this level also develop a sustainability plan, encompassing areas such as raw material sourcing, operations, health and nutrition and social sustainability.

Currently at the pilot stage, the Origin Green Retail & Foodservice Charter currently has 6 verified members, and Bord Bia are currently engaging with other companies in this area.

Committed members

A key element of the Origin Green programme is that each sustainability plan is tailored to that individual company, so that the focus can be placed on the areas most relevant to them. These are medium to long-term plans, typically lasting 3 – 5 years in duration.

Now, 5 years after the programme’s inception, early adopters of Origin Green are moving on to their second plan, demonstrating ongoing commitment to the programme. Many of the Origin Green pilot companies have made significant resource savings over the duration of their plans and have won awards for their sustainability performances and credentials.

 International recognition

Origin Green has been well received internationally with recognition from Jason Clay, the vice president of the World Wildlife Fund and the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, both endorsing the programme as a positive example for others to follow.

Furthermore, the Origin Green Ambassador Programme has helped Origin Green have a big footprint internationally. The programme places graduates in leading international organisations to help to spread the Origin Green message internationally, as well as develop Ireland’s knowledge of best practice in sustainability. Participants also complete an MSc in Business Sustainability with Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

Looking Forward

Initially the approach regarding the Origin Green programme was to build scale and bring companies on board. Now, Bord Bia is making the charter more robust and is incorporating elements of consumer feedback, such as the introduction of a mandatory health and nutrition target for manufacturing companies. Bord Bia are currently transitioning all of their Quality Assurance schemes to Sustainable Quality Assurance schemes and are further building the retail and foodservice side of the programme. Overall the aim is to build more scale, more impact and more targets, and ultimately, more proof of the Irish food and drink industry’s commitment to sustainability.

About the author

Anna Ryan is a Sustainability Communications Executive at Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board. She works as part of the Origin Green team on the development of the manufacturing, retail and foodservice programs and in program communications. She previously worked in Bord Bia’s Meat and Livestock and Sustainability Development teams

Find out more about Origin Green here.

The post Origin Green – Ireland’s National Food and Drink Sustainability Programme appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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Promoting sustainable farming practices through use of precision land forming, flood control structures, on-farm water storage, and deployment of irrigation technology and new irrigation techniques is a family affair for Arkansas rice farmer, Jim Whitaker.

Whitaker received the first USA Rice Sustainability Award at the USA Rice Outlook conference this week in San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Whitaker was quick to acknowledge the role everyone in his family’s operation plays in their collective commitment to sustainable farming. The Whitaker family farm is run by Jim and his brother Sam, who played an integral part of a group of rice farmers that sold the first-ever voluntary carbon credits generated by U.S. rice farmers.

The pioneering group, who call themselves Nature’s Stewards, believe that by implementing conservation practices on their rice crops they could reduce methane emissions and thereby generate a carbon credit that could later be sold on the carbon market.

A major benefit of the enhanced conservation practices is the use of fully automated water-level detection sensors. On the Whitaker farm results from a two-year study showed water savings of some 956,000 litres per hectare (624,000 gallons/acre) with automatic checks on water levels every seven minutes.

See here for video of Jim Whitaker outlining the conservation practices on his farm.

In an interview in June with NGO, the Environmental Defense Fund, Jim Whitaker said: “Conservation has always been a major component in our family operations. This project has helped save millions of gallons of water, lower fertilizer rates, increase waterfowl habitat and lower GHG emissions. We consider this a win-win for the environment.”

Off the farm, Jim Whitaker is a member of the Arkansas Rice Farmers Board, the USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee and the USA Rice Sustainability Committee. He was recently appointed to the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

Sources: USA Rice, American Farm Bureau, Environmental Defense Fund

The post Sustainable farmer helps pioneer first rice carbon credit sales appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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By Anna Ryan, Bord Bia    

Origin Green is Ireland’s national food and drink sustainability programme. It is the first and only sustainability programme that is run on a national scale, uniting government, private sector and food retailers though Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board, who are the semi-state body responsible for promoting Irish food and drink, both in Ireland and in international markets. Bord Bia’s mission is to drive through market insight and, in partnership with industry, the commercial success of a world class Irish food, drink and horticulture industry.

Ireland enjoys a strong reputation as a source of high quality food, drink and ingredients, with a temperate climate and green countryside, putting the country in a strong position for sustainable food and drink production. Agriculture is a very important industry in Ireland and therefore Bord Bia are taking great care to make sure food is produced in a sustainable way for future generations. This is where Origin Green comes into play.

Origin Green was first launched by Bord Bia in 2012. As a programme, Origin Green covers the full food and drink supply chain. Farmers participate in Bord Bia’s Sustainable Quality Assurance schemes. Food manufacturers sign up to the sustainability charter and develop a dedicated multi-annual sustainability plan and retail and foodservice operates also develop a sustainability plan. At each stage, the programme is independently verified and audited to ensure robustness and credibility.

Origin Green now covers all levels of the supply chain, an ambition of the programme from the very outset.

Origin Green at Farm Level

Bord Bia has been auditing and certifying good farming standards for over twenty years through its Quality Assurance schemes. Quality Assurance plays a fundamental role in promoting Irish food and horticulture, and provides a platform for consumer promotion of product quality. The schemes are built on best practice in farming and processing, current legislation, relevant industry guidelines and international standards. Bord Bia’s Quality Assurance schemes are accredited to the ISO17065/2012. Food safety, traceability, welfare, health and safety and environmental protection are the cornerstone of the standards.

In 2012, Bord Bia made plans to transition these Quality Assurance Schemes to Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes. This has involved incorporating sustainability initiatives and measures into the existing Quality Assurance audit, including areas such as biodiversity, use of water and social sustainability.

Farms that are part of the Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes are audited every 18 months, where data is compiled regarding the sustainability performance of the farm. Following their audit, each farmer is given a feedback report, which outlines ways in which the farmer can improve sustainability on their farm.

In 2014, Bord Bia introduced the Sustainable Dairy Assurance Scheme (SDAS), the first Quality Assurance scheme to have sustainability at its core. Today, over 85% of Ireland’s 18,000 dairy farmers have signed up to the scheme and it is expected that 100% of all of Ireland’s dairy farms will be signed up to the scheme by mid-2018.

In addition, the former beef and lamb Quality Assurance scheme has become the Sustainable Beef and Lamb Assurance Scheme (SBLAS). Launched in April of this year, the scheme has 50,000 farmer members and over 165,000 carbon audits have been conducted on beef farms to date.

In November 2017, Bord Bia launched the Sustainable Egg Assurance Scheme, which marks the third farmer scheme to be converted to a Sustainable Assurance Scheme. It currently has over 240 certified members, covering 97% of Ireland’s egg production.

Bord Bia are currently in the process of converting all Quality Assurance Schemes to Sustainable Quality Assurance Schemes.

Origin Green at the Food Manufacturing Level

Ireland’s food processors and manufacturers sign up to the Origin Green charter and develop targets within the areas of raw material sourcing, manufacturing processes and social sustainability. The targets set are specific, measurable and ambitious. Throughout this initial plan development stage, Bord Bia offer companies a range of support including workshops, guidance documents and one-to-one mentorship. Once a company’s sustainability plan is completed, it is sent to SGS, a leading inspection, verification and testing company, for verification.

Verified members of the programme must also submit an update to their plan on an annual basis, where they report on progress regarding their targets. These annual reviews are also verified by SGS.

The manufacturing element of Origin Green began with nine companies participating in a pilot phase of the programme in 2012. Today, the programme has surpassed 275 verified members. Each sustainability plan is independently verified by the SGS Group, which assesses the company’s progress in relation to targets set out in their individual charters.

Origin Green at Retail & Foodservice Level

An ambition of the Origin Green programme from the outset was to engage the entire Irish food and drink industry in sustainability. A milestone Origin Green hit in 2016 was extending the programme to retail and foodservice level, thereby including the entire supply chain.

Companies at this level also develop a sustainability plan, encompassing areas such as raw material sourcing, operations, health and nutrition and social sustainability.

Currently at the pilot stage, the Origin Green Retail & Foodservice Charter currently has 6 verified members, and Bord Bia are currently engaging with other companies in this area.

Committed members

A key element of the Origin Green programme is that each sustainability plan is tailored to that individual company, so that the focus can be placed on the areas most relevant to them. These are medium to long-term plans, typically lasting 3 – 5 years in duration.

Now, 5 years after the programme’s inception, early adopters of Origin Green are moving on to their second plan, demonstrating ongoing commitment to the programme. Many of the Origin Green pilot companies have made significant resource savings over the duration of their plans and have won awards for their sustainability performances and credentials.

 International recognition

Origin Green has been well received internationally with recognition from Jason Clay, the vice president of the World Wildlife Fund and the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, both endorsing the programme as a positive example for others to follow.

Furthermore, the Origin Green Ambassador Programme has helped Origin Green have a big footprint internationally. The programme places graduates in leading international organisations to help to spread the Origin Green message internationally, as well as develop Ireland’s knowledge of best practice in sustainability. Participants also complete an MSc in Business Sustainability with Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

Looking Forward

Initially the approach regarding the Origin Green programme was to build scale and bring companies on board. Now, Bord Bia is making the charter more robust and is incorporating elements of consumer feedback, such as the introduction of a mandatory health and nutrition target for manufacturing companies. Bord Bia are currently transitioning all of their Quality Assurance schemes to Sustainable Quality Assurance schemes and are further building the retail and foodservice side of the programme. Overall the aim is to build more scale, more impact and more targets, and ultimately, more proof of the Irish food and drink industry’s commitment to sustainability.

About the author

Anna Ryan is a Sustainability Communications Executive at Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board. She works as part of the Origin Green team on the development of the manufacturing, retail and foodservice programs and in program communications. She previously worked in Bord Bia’s Meat and Livestock and Sustainability Development teams

Find out more about Origin Green at https://www.origingreen.ie/

The post Origin Green – Ireland’s National Food and Drink Sustainability Programme appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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US Sustainability Alliance Feed

Promoting sustainable farming practices through use of precision land forming, flood control structures, on-farm water storage, and deployment of irrigation technology and new irrigation techniques is a family affair for Arkansas rice farmer, Jim Whitaker.

Whitaker received the first USA Rice Sustainability Award at the USA Rice Outlook conference this week in San Antonio, Texas.  Mr. Whitaker was quick to acknowledge the role everyone in his family’s operation plays in their collective commitment to sustainability. The Whitaker family farm is run by Jim and his brother Sam, who played an integral part of a group of rice farmers that sold the first-ever voluntary carbon credits generated by U.S. rice farmers.

The pioneering group, who call themselves Nature’s Stewards, believe that by implementing conservation practices on their rice crops they could reduce methane emissions and thereby generate a carbon credit that could later be sold on the carbon market.

A major benefit of the enhanced conservation practices is the use of fully automated water-level detection sensors. On the Whitaker farm results from a two-year study showed water savings of some 956,000 litres per hectare (624,000 gallons/acre) with automatic checks on water levels every seven minutes.

See here for video of Jim Whitaker outlining the conservation practices on his farm.

In an interview in June with NGO, the Environmental Defense Fund, Jim Whitaker said: “Conservation has always been a major component in our family operations. This project has helped save millions of gallons of water, lower fertilizer rates, increase waterfowl habitat and lower GHG emissions. We consider this a win-win for the environment.”

Off the farm, Jim Whitaker is a member of the Arkansas Rice Farmers Board, the USA Rice Farmers Conservation Committee and the USA Rice Sustainability Committee.  He was recently appointed to the Arkansas Rice Research and Promotion Board.

Sources: USA Rice, American Farm Bureau, Environmental Defense Fund

The post Sustainable farmer helps pioneer first rice carbon credit sales appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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Ministers from 19 countries called for farmers’ to have access to tools and technologies to be able to produce more food in a safe and sustainable way.

The Ministers were attending the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with 164 member country delegations and numerous NGOs. The statement pointed out that sustainable trade and production were hampered by regulatory barriers that often lacked sufficient scientific justification.

The joint statement was presented on December 12, 2017 at a side event to the WTO, where officials from Kenya, Uganda, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, and the United States delivered remarks supporting the statement. In addition to government officials, representatives from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided comments in support.

The statement acknowledged the importance of transparency and predictability to international trade, and called on all WTO Members to “strengthen the implementation of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement by reinforcing the work of relevant international standards organizations and ensuring the scientific basis of SPS measures is sound.”

The Ministers pointed out that the “development and application of sound SPS measures is needed to support farmers’ choice in tools that can expand agricultural production and facilitate access to food and agricultural products, and also to safeguard human, animal and plant health.”

The statement also focused on an increasingly contentious issue – that of maximum residue levels for pesticides, and while it recognized the work done by the WTO’s SPS Committee on pesticide-related issues that have an adverse impact on international trade in food and agricultural products, it also strongly supported the central importance of risk analysis to assess, manage, and communicate risks of concern associated with pesticide use in order to protect public health while enabling the safe use of pesticides and facilitating trade in food and agricultural products. In that regard, the Minister supported the voluntary actions by Members put forward by Kenya, Uganda and the United States to increase the capacity and efficiency of Codex in setting international standards on pesticide maximum residue.

The signatories to the joint statement represent the governments of: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, Kenya, Uganda, Japan, Guatemala, Paraguay, and the United States.

Source: WTO press release: “Trade in Food and Agricultural Products Joint Statement of Undersigned Ministers”

The post WTO Ministerial Statement on Sustainable Trade in Food and Farm Products appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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US Sustainability Alliance Feed

Ministers from 19 countries called for farmers’ to have access to tools and technologies to be able to produce more food in a safe and sustainable way.

The Ministers were attending the 11th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) with 164 member country delegations and numerous NGOs. The statement pointed out that production and trade were hampered by regulatory barriers that often lacked sufficient scientific justification that prevent.

The joint statement was presented on December 12, 2017 at a side event to the WTO, where officials from Kenya, Uganda, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Argentina, and the United States delivered remarks supporting the statement. In addition to government officials, representatives from the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) provided comments in support.

The statement acknowledged the importance of transparency and predictability to international trade, and called on all WTO Members to “strengthen the implementation of the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Agreement by reinforcing the work of relevant international standards organizations and ensuring the scientific basis of SPS measures is sound”.

The Ministers pointed out that the “development and application of sound SPS measures is needed to support farmers’ choice in tools that can expand agricultural production and facilitate access to food and agricultural products, and also to safeguard human, animal and plant health.”

The statement also focused on an increasingly contentious issue – that of maximum residue levels for pesticides and while it recognized the work done by the WTO’s SPS Committee on pesticide-related issues that have an adverse impact on international trade in food and agricultural products, it also pointed out strongly supported the central importance of risk analysis to assess, manage, and communicate risks of concern associated with pesticide use in order to protect public health while enabling the safe use of pesticides and facilitating trade in food and agricultural products. In that regard the Minister supported the voluntary actions by Members put forward by Kenya, Uganda and the United States to increase the capacity and efficiency of Codex in setting international standards on pesticide maximum residue

The signatories to the joint statement represent the governments of: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Colombia, Panama, Dominican Republic, Peru, Chile, Kenya, Uganda, Japan, Guatemala, Paraguay, and the United States.

Source: WTO press release –  TRADE IN FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS JOINT STATEMENT OF UNDERSIGNED MINISTERS

The post WTO Ministerial statement on sustainable trade in food and farm products appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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By Maite Cabellero, Senior Adviser at New Ways Consulting, December 4, 2017

Cooperation along the entire supply chain is still an issue that needs to be addressed to achieve sustainability. This was the main take-away from the Feeding the World 2017 conference that took place on Nov 29, 2017 in Madrid, Spain.

Maite Caballero

The role innovation plays in achieving sustainability and a circular economy brought together academics, researchers, members of the food and feed associations, farmers and government officials to discuss the topic.  It was widely acknowledged that global cooperation, which includes all actors in the supply chain, is necessary to help better care for farming fields, as well as provide the disruptive key technology that is now required to produce sustainably.

With this in mind, Professor Martin Scholten of Wageningen University, recommended that academics and research institutes turn to businesses to identify the current challenges and gaps in knowledge so that they can provide practical solutions to specific problems in the field.

Guest speakers at the event agreed that a combination of knowledge and entrepreneurship, along with public-private partnerships, are key to meeting societal challenges in production and across the supply chain.

According to Ms. Anabel Rodriguez, CEO of the Circular Economy Foundation, one of the main obstacles to a circular economy is the lack of an actual agreement on what a circular economy is and how to develop it. European institutions, which presented a draft legislative proposal on circular economy in November 2015, are yet to formally agree on it.

As such, businesses and public administrations are trying to advance their own circular economy proposals in connection to some of the main action areas outlined in the draft European legislative text. These include setting higher targets for waste and adhering to new sustainability methods for the agriculture sector.

An example was presented by Professor Scholten, who stated that circularity is about valuing manure and all types of proteins from a production system and a smart food processing point of view. Hence, proteins coming from the sea such as seaweed – which can reduce the use of antibiotic when used as feed, or even insects, which represent an efficient feed conversion– should be more widely utilised.

Another obstacle identified is the lack of education, training or understanding on behalf of farmers. For instance, there are currently new rules regarding composting that promote the use of residues. However, farmers do not necessarily trust this new composting approach and hence are reluctant to apply it on the farm.

Ms. Rodriguez believes that collaboration between the corporate sector, academics and individuals can lead to best practices being set across the entire agriculture industry. In line with this, the media has a great role to play in conveying information in a more pedagogic manner, as do corporations and associations. In the education sphere, another challenge is to prepare students for jobs that do not yet exist, but which will be created to deal with the mitigation and adaptation efforts concerning climate change.

Mr. Ricard Cabero, Institutional Relations Director at retailer Mercardona, warned that while the circular economy can bring a lot of opportunities and efficiencies, At the end of the day, it is expensive, requires a lot of work, must always be considered for  the long term and it must be profitable.

The post Cooperation Along the Supply Chain Still an Issue appeared first on The U.S. Sustainability Alliance.

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