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Building Sustainable Agriculture from the Ground Up

Author: Glencore Canada | Date: 08/06/2017

Sustainable agriculture means many things: It’s crops grown at yields that best support the economy. It’s farmers who are paid fairly and enjoy safer working conditions. It’s land that retains its nutrient-rich soil for years to come. It’s parents having confidence that they’re feeding their children good quality food. These factors and more are the focus of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Crops (CRSC).

The CRSC is a national, industry-led forum made up of grower, industry, customer and consumer organizations that leads and promotes agricultural sustainability in Canada. The group researches and assesses how to meet the food demands of Canadians and their trading partners in ways that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. As a member, Viterra works closely with the CRSC to help set strategic priorities and create plans that result in success.

“As an industry leader we’re proud to be a part of this important initiative, which provides us with an opportunity to collaborate with our stakeholders and help deliver real solutions,” says Jeff Cockwill, Viterra’s Director of Corporate Affairs.

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Thanks to Viterra, its CRSC partners and funding from the federal government, the group plans to deliver the Canadian Statement of Grains Sustainability and the Canadian Standard of Grains Sustainability, a national standard for Canadian grain cropping practices. This will mean that growers of barley, canola, flax, oats, pulses, and other important grains will eventually have a plan to follow that will see that Canadian crops are all produced in a way the meet the environmental, social and economical benchmarks that best suit today’s market.

To do this, the CRSC is taking on two projects over the next three years: a sustainability metrics platform and a CRSC pilot program. The metrics program relies on a research-based methodology to understand the existing codes of practice in the industry and evolve them to one universal approach that keeps sustainability front of mind. The best information about different grains, growing regions and reporting will be considered in developing this metrics platform.

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The pilot program will be a four-phase testing ground of sustainable practices. Indicators from existing programs will first be considered and evaluated against the core principles of the CRSC. Then, baselines indicators will be applied on a macro level. Next, growers will take part in the testing of these indicators. Their work will help to identify and explore challenges, gaps and successes of the pilot program. Finally, research and communication teams will assess and present the results. All of this work will help built a national standard by which Canadian crops are grown.

“By getting in at the ground level, we’re able to support the development of a sustainability framework that makes sense for our industry,” says Cockwill.