Proposed National Sustainability Standards: Implications for the Agrichemical and Fertilizer Industries


  • Jed Colquhoun
  • UW-Madison Dept. of Horticulture
Project Media

From environmentally-concerned groups to buyers, retailers and consumers, “sustainability” is certainly the current buzzword in many industries, including agriculture. Several retailers and agricultural industries are independently developing sustainability standards, indices, and certification programs for their businesses and others throughout the supply chain. Additionally, national sustainability standards, which would ultimately encompass all agricultural crops, have been proposed or are in development by multiple groups. The intent of this presentation is to give an overview and update on national sustainability standards, and to outline potential implications on Wisconsin’s agricultural industries.

While the concept of sustainable agriculture has been a point of discussion for several years, the desire to use it as a marketing tool or to add value to products in the marketplace is a relatively recent development. Individual retailers and suppliers, such as Walmart, are developing sustainability scorecards and standards. For example, McDonald’s recently agreed to comply with a shareholder request to look at ways to reduce pesticide use in potatoes and document such progress. As a result, growers may be required to fill out several surveys to sell to multiple buyers, in addition to current requirements for good agricultural practice (GAP) surveys.