By Jamie Sears Rawlings

Industry Partnership Unveils Barriers and Opportunities in Sustainability Data Collection Throughout Pork Supply Chain

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February 6, 2024

Trust In Food™ and The Sustainability Consortium explore data collection and sharing within pork and row crop producers, find gaps worth exploring. 

Lenexa, Kan., (February 7, 2024) – Amid the new focus on regenerative practices in U.S. agriculture and the unprecedented investments in climate-smart commodities, Farm Journal’s Trust In Food and The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) are partnering to gather insights into the vital role that data collection and sharing plays in measuring sustainability in the pork supply chain.  

The partnership recently released its report, “Farmer Perspectives On Data 2024: Barriers And Opportunities to More Robust Feed Sustainability Data In U.S. Pork Supply Chains,” which is the latest in a series of reports that examine how farmers are capturing, using and sharing data in their operations and in the downstream value chain.  

“We know that data is the key to unlocking climate-smart economic opportunity for America’s producers. For three years, we’ve worked to understand how to help more U.S. farmers unlock the market potential of data — especially the data about production practices that food companies and consumers seek,” said Amy Skoczlas Cole, president of Trust In Food. “This latest installment of our partnership with The Sustainability Consortium revealed a surprising truth, which is that the ag value chain itself is driving demand for more farm level data. This starts to illuminate a powerful opportunity for building trust and speed in data sharing, farmer to farmer, even before an upstream consumer company asks for it.” 

“The study reveals that data is the key to unlocking climate-smart economic opportunities for U.S. producers,” said Christy Slay, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium. “Understanding the barriers and potential solutions in this process is essential for paving the way for more effective data sharing among farmers, creating a foundation for sustainable agriculture practices and positive change within the industry.”

The study found that, while most pork and row crop producers are collecting valuable on-farm data, the methods of that data collection and the data points collected vary substantially. Both row crop farmers and swine producers have farm-level data and are willing to share when concerns over data privacy, trust, fair compensation and other factors have been addressed. Yet pork brand and retail customers are not asking for it. This perceived lack of demand is a key reason why farmers are not capturing additional data.  

Key findings from the report include: 

  • Farmers and producers are collecting data, but inconsistencies threaten efficacy: While the vast majority are collecting on-farm data, for row crop growers the drivers of data collection are financial and production needs: 80% report collecting yield data and 79% herbicide and pesticide application data. Key performance indicators are not consistently tracked in categories that are essential to calculate sustainability metrics in pork’s feed supply chain.  
  • Data sharing is fragmented throughout the entire supply chain: The report reveals that pork producers are more likely to collect and track data (69%) than their row crop counterparts. Even among pork producers, there exists wide variability in the data captured: 43% document animal welfare data while 71% record animal mortality. 
  • Use of FMIS for data collection correlates to farm size: The study validates previous research that indicates a correlation to the collection of farm-level data and the use of FMIS to farm size. 
  • Significant barriers exist in desire for data sharing: Row crop farmers are less likely to share data after sale and delivery than pork producer counterparts: 26% of row crop respondents reported being unwilling to share data versus 7% of pork producers. However, if market benefits are established, 89% of row crop farmers and 94% of pork producers are willing to share data. 
  • Off-farm feed purchases reduce data visibility: 75% of pork producers who grow feed directly in their operations collected data on sustainable agriculture practices implemented, versus just 38% of pork producers who purchased their feed off-farm with access to the same data points. 

The report underscores the ample room for alignment within the industry, from the farm-gate to buyers, on data collection and sharing practices. To advance this need, Trust In Food, The Sustainability Consortium and other partners are providing data coaching and support to producers as part of the Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Connected Ag Project, one of 141 demonstration projects funded by USDA and administered by public and nonprofit organizations to drive innovation in conservation agriculture. 

“This study finds that it is incumbent upon the entire industry to equip ourselves for success with consistent and measurable data,” said Skoczlas Cole. “Achievement of these goals can help the pork industry meet the needs of the marketplace while increasing ROI for growers and producers.” 

“Farmers and producers are willing to share valuable on-farm data when trust and concerns are addressed,” said Slay. “This report underscores the importance of establishing market benefits to encourage data sharing, fostering collaboration among stakeholders for a more sustainable feed and pork supply chain.”

The report is the latest in a three-year relationship between Trust In Food and The Sustainability Consortium to study farmers’ perspectives on data and its role in increasing sustainability transparency. The first report, “Farmer Perspectives on Data 2021,” can be read here. The latest full report featuring exclusive data and analysis can be viewed here.

About Farm Journal

Farm Journal is the nation’s leading business information and media company serving the agricultural market. Started 147 years ago with the preeminent Farm Journal magazine, the company serves the row crop, livestock, produce and retail sectors through branded websites, eNewsletters and phone apps; business magazines; live events including conferences, seminars and tradeshows; nationally broadcasted television and radio programs; a robust mobile-text-marketing business; and an array of data-driven, paid information products. Farm Journal is also the majority shareholder of the online equipment marketplace, Machinery Pete LLC. Trust In Food is a Farm Journal division dedicated to accelerating the adoption of climate-smart and regenerative agriculture in ways that work for producers and enhance connection to consumers. In 2010, the company established the non-profit, public charity, Farm Journal Foundation, dedicated to sustaining agriculture’s ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population through education and empowerment. 

About Trust In Food
Trust In Food is a purpose-driven division of Farm Journal dedicated to mainstreaming and accelerating the transition to more sustainable and regenerative ag practices, making every dollar invested in conservation agriculture more impactful. We bring business intelligence to agricultural production behavior change: helping farmers understand, value and feel capable of undertaking practice change through data science, social research and strategic communications deployed through the omnichannel Farm Journal platform in collaboration with our partners. Visit www.trustinfood.com to learn more.

About The Sustainability Consortium

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. Through science-based tools, implementation services, supply chain resources, and its vast stakeholder network, TSC works to enable a world where people can lead fulfilled lives in a way that decouples their impacts on people and the planet. TSC’s members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies, and academics. Formed in 2009, TSC is jointly administered by Arizona State University and the University of Arkansas and has a European office at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands. For more information visit www.sustainabilityconsortium.org

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