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Walmart Foundation funds farm sustainability effort

The Sustainability Consortium seeks to facilitate agricultural reporting

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) said it has received a $375,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation for its efforts to improve reporting of sustainability metrics by agricultural firms.

The effort seeks to connect data systems and create easier and faster ways for producers to report their results. TSC said one of its main challenges has been the inability for farmers to respond to questions about their sustainability practices with definitive answers.

In 2016, TSC said its tools were used by retailers to collect nearly 70,000 supplier responses to key performance indicators (KPIs) across all sectors. Of the approximately 15% of those responses that addressed agricultural impacts, more than half of the responses were, “We are unable to determine at this time.” 

Many agricultural companies need help establishing the communication systems to answer many of the survey questions, TSC said.

“By improving communication flow between farms and manufacturing and ultimately, retail, this project will increase the demand signal for sustainable farming practices and improve data flow for easier and more accurate reporting of farm metrics,” said Christy Slay, TSC director of research and lead on the project. 

TSC, based in Scottsdale, Ariz., said it aims to improve the quality of agricultural sustainability data and the ease of reporting of that data by farmers by improving systems and technologies to better understand the data collected on farms, the systems in place, and how to better communicate to suppliers about sustainability programs that require farm data. 

“The need to improve agricultural systems to be not only efficient but also sustainable in the long-term is paramount to meeting the global demand for food into the future, while also minimizing adverse impacts on the environment and society,” TSC said in a statement. 

TSC, which is a global organization seeking to improve sustainability for CPG products, was launched after an initial grant from Walmart to the University of Arkansas in 2007. Its members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, non-government organizations, governmental agencies and academics.

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