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Sustainability is here to stay. These two ag agencies are stepping up

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Amid the ever-evolving challenges of providing a consumer-friendly, sustainable food supply, farmers and food companies often face different pressures while working towards the same end goals. To better accomplish these goals, the United Soybean Board is partnering with The Center for Food Integrity to open conversations and begin collaboration between the two groups. 

“The original stewards of the land, farmers have an impressive story to tell when it comes to producing enough nutritious food for all while caring for the planet. We’re moving forward with a platform for farmers to share their work — and better understand the food industry it serves,” writes Charlie Arnot, CEO of The Center for Food Integrity, an industry organization that promotes information sharing and modern ag practices.

Food companies such as retailers, restaurants, and food manufacturers face increased and unprecedented pressure from the public to meet new sustainability goals. Whether we like it or not, public pressures toward sustainability are here to stay. On the other hand, farmers are faced with the challenge of communicating credible information on modern, sustainable crop production methods to food company decision-makers. Simply put, it’s time to bridge the communication gap between food companies and farmers. 

The Consumer Brands Association’s CPG Outlook 2022 Report represents a united focus by the 50 top CPG companies on green initiatives such as addressing climate change, improving package sustainability, and reducing water usage. Consumers, however, are increasingly concerned with the environment. In 2019, 74 percent of consumers polled expressed their concern; by 2021, the number was 80 percent. 

According to a 2021 Cargill survey, more than half of consumers on a global scale will choose a package item that boasts a sustainability claim over one that does not. In the U.S., 37 percent of consumers said that sustainability labeling would influence their buying decisions. 

To address these issues, the United Soybean Board has partnered with The Center for Food Integrity to begin conversations. Invited to the table are soybean farmers, food sustainability experts, NGOs, academia, and others to a series of virtual round tables and public webinars. These meetings aim to produce a broader understanding of how sustainability can be achieved, the challenges all sides face, and how tradeoffs should be carefully weighed.

Both organizations hope this type of collaboration will help ensure the benefits of modern production practices are understood and considered in food sourcing decisions. The ultimate goal of the collaborations is that farmers and food companies can move forward to protect agriculture’s social license so farmers can continue to use proven practices and technologies and continue to innovate and improve.

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