Field to Market streamlines sustainability assessments along a supply chain and indicates where the industry can make improvements
By Jackie Clark
Canadian farmers will soon have new opportunities to collaborate within the agri-food supply chain to improve their production systems and decrease their environmental footprints.
Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture is adding a sister organization in Canada, the organization announced on Nov. 12.
Field to Market Canada will align with the Canadian Field Print Initiative. This project involved “metrics to measure sustainability indicators for Canadian crop production at national and regional” levels, Denis Tremorin, director of sustainability at Pulse Canada, told Farms.com.
Field to Market will use the online tool developed by the Canadian Field Print Initiative to model “environmental outcomes at the individual and field level, with an annual crop being compared to provincial averages,” Markus Weber, the manager of consulting and data analysis at Serecon, told Farms.com. Serecon developed the online tool.
“It’s not just a report for a grower, it’s tied onto more of a learning environment,” Tremorin explained. Field to Market is “being driven by companies along the supply chain. They tie (the online tool) to a broader program around improvements on agronomy, profitability and sustainability.”
Companies become members of Field to Market and use the unified assessment of sustainability to learn about their supply chain.
This process involves “getting information to a food manufacturer or ingredient company on what the production system looks like, where are there challenges and what we can focus our efforts on in terms of making improvements,” he said.
It’s a “collective learning approach,” Tremorin added. General Mills, for example, has used the assessment to connect with oat suppliers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and hosted peer-to-peer workshops with farmers to improve productivity, he said.
“In the first year, growers typically spend 30 to 60 minutes providing base information. For each annual crop, information is required on the number of equipment passes and fertilizer amounts applied, in addition to yields for each field. In subsequent (years) of participation, growers can usually complete the simple questionnaire in less than 20 minutes,” Weber explained.
Field to Market Canada will be backed by credible and context-specific science.
“We’re leveraging Agriculture and Agri-food Canada metrics,” Tremorin said. “It’s their research and their models.
“The beauty of using those Canadian methodologies and datasets, (is that) they’re very tuned into soil conditions and climatic conditions,” he said.
Companies who were already members in the U.S. wanted a unified program, Tremorin explained. “We started to get more interest from companies that are doing business on both sides of the border.”
Those companies should help drive domestic demand in Canada.
“We see a lot of interest from end-users, manufacturers and retailers, and I think that’s going to bring people to the table,” Tremorin explained.
Key supporting organizations of Field to Market Canada include Pulse Canada, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Fertilizer Canada and CropLife Canada, according to a Nov. 12 statement.
Field to Market Canada photo