New Resources Help Farmers and Advisers Maximize Sustainability and Profitability

Jan 11, 2019 | Agriculture, Business

Winter is a critical planning period for farmers and their advisers. As they gear up for the 2019 growing season, a new set of resources can help build operational resilience in the near- and long-term.

Sustainability Programming for Ag Retailers and CCAs (SPARC) was recently launched by the Agricultural Retailers Association, the American Society of Agronomy, Environmental Defense Fund and Field to Market to provide farmer advisers with resources and training modules to help producers continuously improve agronomic and environmental outcomes.

Here’s why advisers should take advantage of SPARC resources as they help farmers plan for the year ahead.

Respond to a changing supply chain landscape

As consumer-facing brands and retailers set sustainable agriculture goals, ag retailers have a valuable opportunity to be a bridge between corporate commitments and on-farm decision-makers.

SPARC resources give advisers tools to help farmers navigate these industry changes and meet supply chain sustainability commitments.

For example, the “Sustainability 101 for CCAs” and “Sustainability 101 for Ag Retailers” online modules explain what food companies mean when they ask for sustainable products, and the “Environmental Sustainability Metrics” module explains how progress toward industry sustainability goals for commodity crop production is measured and reported.

Improve profitability for retailers and farmers

The most successful ag advisers help their clients realize economic benefits.

New research shows that on-farm conservation can improve farmers’ bottom lines. The “Farmer Business Case for Sustainability” module digs into the financial benefits of improved environmental performance and operational efficiency. This presents a business opportunity for ag advisers to help farmers implement conservation practices that build soil health, reduce yield risk, and build resilience to water scarcity and extreme precipitation.

More ag input providers now offer products and services that improve yields and maximize farm efficiency, while also reducing impact on natural resources. It’s my hope that these newly available resources will help grow demand for these services.

How to get started

SPARC currently offers six training modules through the American Society of Agronomy’s online classroom. Participants will earn continuing education credit while learning how to:

  • Help farmers improve productivity, profitability and environmental outcomes.
  • Offer combined agronomic and sustainability insights.
  • Demonstrate the economic benefits of sustainability to farmers and retailers.

SPARC also provides a series of guides, designed to share with farmer clients, that explain agriculture’s environmental impacts and opportunities to demonstrate and communicate stewardship.

As advisers help farmers plan for 2019 and beyond, SPARC resources will help align profitability and sustainability, and increase resilience to extreme weather and market changes.