Lauren Brey, managing director of Farmers for Sustainable Food, participated in a panel at the Sustainable Ag Summit held in Las Vegas on Nov. 17, 2021. One of three panelists, Brey was accompanied by Drew Kessler, Houston Engineering, and Steve Shlangen, Schlangen Family Farm. Kelly Murray Young, Field to Market, moderated.
The panel discussed four key areas of establishing and implementing projects to document the financial and environmental benefits of on-farm conservation: engagement, formation, operation, and conclusion.
Brey presented how Farmers for Sustainable Food has developed the Framework for Farm-level Sustainability Projects, an easy-to-use handbook that helps farmers determine which conservation practices are most effective for their individual farms by equipping them with the tools necessary to document the environmental and financial effects of conservation practices.
In 2019, this framework was put to the test through a pilot project in southwest Wisconsin.
Through the pilot project, farmers completed financial and environmental analyses to develop benchmarks, financial baselines were set to evaluate ROI year-over-year and farmers determined what conservation practices worked best for their farm. Brey shared the year-one results with attendees. This project is now being duplicated by other farmer-led groups and food companies.
Farmers for Sustainable Food was honored when their pilot project received the “Outstanding Supply Chain Collaboration” award from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy in 2021.
“Participating in a breakout session at the Sustainable Ag Summit was a great opportunity to share the work that we are doing at FSF with a broad audience. There were farmers, environmental organizations, food-supply companies and retailers in the audience who were all interested in learning about the work we are doing,” Brey said. “We made some valuable connections and I’m looking forward to seeing where these networks take us to help advance our efforts.”