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Sustainability assemblages: From metrics development to metrics implementation in United States agriculture

October 2019

Jason Konefal, Maki Hatanaka, Johann Strube, Leland Glenna, David Conner


With a growing focus on the effects agriculture can have on the environment there have been increasing questions on how improvements in sustainability could be measured. Two metrics being used in the US include Field to Market and the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC), both including similar processes to reduce energy and waste. Field to Market metrics apply to commodity crops and SISC is for specialty crops like fruits and vegetables. In order to get these metrics implemented, it requires the cooperation of growers, processors, aggregators, and other supply chain actors. All of these actors may have interests that go against sustainability thus making these metrics hard to put into place.

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Policy Implications

The most common way currently that industries are making the switch to be more sustainable is through pressures from the market and consumer demand, however in agriculture these forces alone are not enough to encourage the transition from traditional practices to more sustainable ones. By better measuring and quantifying sustainability, it could encourage cooperation by driving producers to want to keep their sustainability scores and measures. The main issue currently is leaving this up to private interests to implement as there may be more collective action problems preventing it from becoming a possibility.

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