How is FieldRise Different?

We're different because we're farmer-founded, university-validated, and field-proven by more than 1,000 farmers, across 1.2 million acres of commodity and direct-consumed crops. And we're just getting started.

Will FieldRise Assessments Lead to Farmers Being told What to Do?

That's a big "no." For some reason some folks we've heard from fear data will lead to proscriptive requirements for farmers. The results of the individual voluntary assessments we collect are private to individual farmers. Farmers can get optional confidential suggestions for improving sustainability performance. In fact, our assessment helps document that farmers already do a great job, and proves the continual improvements already being made. We think that will help ward off non-farmers telling farmers what to do.

How is FieldRise related to NISA?

We began as the National Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture (and the National Sustainable Soybean Initiative) at the University of Wisconsin. Those names date back to our pilot phase, which was guided by 11 farmer associations from throughout agriculture. We spun off from UW and incorporated FieldRise as a Wisconsin LLC in October of 2014

What is sustainability?

We define sustainability as a food production system that can meet everyone's needs indefinitely. Of course that just scratches the surface of what sustainability means, and we respect other definitions. But ensuring everyone benefits from a perpetual food supply is our focus.

What is the biggest sustainability challenge in agriculture?

Given how important farm products are, agriculture sustainability challenges are all big. Concerns vary by stakeholder. We feel that the increasing disconnect between farmers and their urban customers is a daunting social challenge. Misunderstandings (and even occasional misinformation) hurt farmers and consumers alike. Farm technologies and production practices which are powerful sustainability tools face increasing questions that slow progress. Serious U.S. food system challenges (such as waste, or the surprising number of people who don't get a balanced diet) often get less air time than "marketing-driven" or ideological concerns. We believe some of the biggest challenges loom over the Eastern horizon, where the amount of land and water per capita available for farming cannot sustain huge populations with shifting diets. Above all challenges is a swirl of successes, divergent strategies, policy, marketing (some marketing spin), controversy and hope. Measurement and new conversations can't solve these challenges, but they can certainly help.

How can measuring progress help?

Regardless of viewpoints, science-based metrics can help provide a solid basis for forward progress. Of course science also gets debated. But when people come together, find ways to measure what's happening today and apply the same measurements later, the result is better relationships and better sustainability outcomes.

Why focus on farmers?

Because farms are where food sustainability starts. And because farmers shop for food too, they populate the start and the end of the food chain. They also are at the center of numerous food sustainability successes and questions. They understand farming. They understand farming impacts; they sell food and consume food. And they work well with others. That makes farmers a strong foundation of food chain sustainability measurement and continued progress.

How can data bring change?

By itself, it cannot. People ultimately make decisions based on how they feel about data. So we're going to help our customers and the industry as a whole talk about agriculture in a way that sparks feelings, inspire new action and accelerate sustainability progress.