“They had more votes than agriculture did and were trying to push things that were unworkable in the view of the majority of the production ag groups,” says Langley. “Mainstream agriculture groups made a joint decision to pull out of the effort and pursue other options.”

Langley is largely echoed by the ASA’s Moore who said his organization would look at other options. “U.S. farmers are very much dedicated to the long-term sustainability of their farms and their farming practices. For this reason, farmers will embrace an achievable roadmap for the environmental, social and economic aspects of sustainability, but only if they are part of its development. We are committed to working toward such goals in the hope that widespread adoption will contribute to real sustainability of American agriculture.”

The USA Rice Federation will now shift attention to Field to Market: The Keystone Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture.

“We’ve been a part of the Keystone process for about (18 months), now. Keystone includes environmental groups but is much more a consensus-building process,” says Langley. “It’s more results-based and not necessarily trying to dictate certain practices like organic.

The organization’s Web site (http://www.fieldtomarket.org/) contains initial benchmark studies for four crops: cotton, corn, soybeans and wheat.

“Those are an attempt to measure where those crops are on an environmental basis, what their footprint is, and how things have improved over the last 20 years,” says Langley.  

The benchmark study for rice was recently completed.

“That will be added to Keystone’s material in a month, or two,” says Langley. “They provide a ‘field print calculator’ that allows a farmer to go in, put in data from their farm and see how it compares it the industry average on an environmental basis. Things like soil loss, water use, energy use, land use, and climate impact are covered.”