The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) and Almond Board of California (ABC) have announced the outcome of a benchmarking effort with the ABC’s California Almond Sustainability Program (CASP) and SAI Platform’s Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA). CASP almond growing and processing practice assessments were paired with the U.S. and California regulatory systems results in an FSA 2.0 Gold-level equivalency.
“The California Almond Sustainability Program achieved the highest level of equivalency – Gold – with the Farm Sustainability Assessment,” says Joe Rushton, FSA Manager at SAI Platform. “Gold equivalence reflects the comprehensiveness of the Almond Board’s sustainability program, coupled with applicable federal and state regulations, and demonstrates how the California Almond Sustainability Program can be used as an equivalent means of assessing sustainable practices relevant to the California Almond industry.”
California almonds are the first nut-specific program to be benchmarked to FSA 2.0, and one of only two U.S. sustainability initiatives that achieved a Gold level of equivalence.
First piloted in 2014, the FSA offers a simple, highly effective tool to assess, improve, and communicate on-farm sustainability. Developed by the SAI Platform, the FSA is used in 32 countries and available in 19 languages. Its design and purpose facilitate the understanding of industry-shared better management practices that improve farm performance and sustainability outcomes. Its Bronze, Silver, and Gold performance levels are designed to be used at scale in the food supply chain and to mainstream sustainable agricultural practices.
Richard Waycott, ABC president and CEO, says that “establishing equivalency with the FSA’s Gold level is an important step in recognizing the California Almond industry’s well-established practices and commitment to being an economically, environmentally, and socially responsible crop for California and the world.”
CASP has been a valuable tool enabling farmers to assess their own practices and confidentially compare their performance to peers. Moving forward, the industry now has a basis for exploring how the California Almond Sustainability Program can be leveraged throughout the supply chain.
“Our objective for working with SAI Platform’s FSA is to increase efficiencies throughout the supply chain, from the almond orchard to customers, by increasing confidence in California Almond farmers’ practices and reducing the need for redundant questionnaires,” Waycott says.
The FSA 2.0 Gold equivalence provides the California Almond industry with a way to communicate on-farm practices and address stakeholder sustainability questions in a more harmonized and consistent manner.