Being in a group has its advantages

Ron Kern

Looking back on life it seems the most fun I’ve had was with others. Old high school buddies, fraternity brothers and farm bureau folk I’ve met along the way.

There’s plenty of good memories there after 66 years and I hope to have a few more years to make a few more.

Some things I could elaborate on, then again there’s others that I’ve been sworn to secrecy never to repeat. Then there’s the ones that usually elicit from folks “And you are still alive?!”

Yep, being in a group has its advantages. Same goes for agriculture and the work we do at farm bureau.

So I’m sharing with you an article from Scott Herndon, president of Field to Market. Made me think about how things moving forward need to look. Enjoy.

Collaboration. That was a key theme that emerged from the inaugural Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture Farm Bill & Agriculture Policy Conference recently held at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s D.C. office.

Commodity groups, stakeholder organizations, a member of Congress, Hill staff, a USDA official, growers and more, all gathered for the event to discuss their priorities for the 2023 farm bill. Unsurprisingly, many shared the same goals – improve the baseline, protect crop insurance, broaden partnerships for voluntary, incentive-based conservation efforts and more.

Each of those goals were connected by the same thread – a need to collaborate to achieve these priorities.

The concept of collaboration was not new to the groups in the room, and is certainly not new to Field to Market, whose mission centers around collaboration across the agricultural supply chain to support resilient ecosystems and enhance farmer livelihoods.

For over 15 years, Field to Market has united the agricultural value chain to advance sustainable outcomes for agriculture, encouraging collaboration to reach shared goals. Throughout the year, we host convenings, like the Farm Bill & Agriculture Policy Conference, to bring organizations with diverse perspectives together to discuss strategies to unite and make meaningful partnerships that will improve sustainability outcomes.

If there are two things we know, it is that the journey to a sustainable future cannot be achieved alone and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges we are facing. Field to Market’s membership is united to overcome the serious challenges of our time, as well as continuously evolving to include more diverse voices at the table.

By bringing together five membership sectors – affiliates, agribusinesses, brands & retailers, civil society and growers – in a precompetitive space, all sectors of the agricultural value chain come together to collaborate to meet the growing demand for food, feed, fiber and fuel in a sustainable and responsible way.

Field to Market members have access to the Fieldprint Platform, a pioneering assessment framework that allows supply chain participants at every stage of their sustainability journey to measure the environmental impacts of commodity crop production and identify opportunities for improvement.

With over 4.5 million acres of farmland across 36 states enrolled in projects within the Fieldprint Platform, supply chain actors are harnessing the power of collaboration to drive sustainable agriculture forward. Members are exploring new and innovative ways to deploy conservation practices on the ground, in ways that are beneficial to farmers and help protect their bottom line. As farmers know, economic sustainability is a fundamental component of agricultural sustainability.

Participating companies are also able to utilize the Fieldprint Platform to reach their own environmental sustainability goals, utilizing data outputs including greenhouse gas emissions factors to show progress.

In a time where the challenges impacting our nation’s farmers and value chain stakeholders are continuing to evolve, Field to Market is working to foster collaboration to reach shared goals.

We all must challenge ourselves to think outside the box and consider the innovative ways we can collaborate to reach a goal shared with someone sitting across from us in the value chain. We sincerely value our relationship with the American Farm Bureau Federation and its many grower members.

We are stronger, together, and I welcome conversations on how Field to Market can further collaborations that reach shared goals.

“One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothing can beat teamwork.” -Edward Abbey

Ron Kern is the manager of the Ogle County Farm Bureau.