Rice growers will have to continue gains in resource efficiency as they face the challenge of feeding more people, according to Michele Schulz, sustainability policy lead for Syngenta. Schulz was the guest speaker Saturday at USA Rice Federation's Sustainability Task Force meeting, held in conjunction with USA Rice's Annual Business Meetings. Gains made by growers from 1980 through 2011 are highlighted in Field to Market's 2012 Environmental and Socioeconomic Indicators Report.
Schulz said reductions in land use, soil erosion, energy and water use, and greenhouse gas emissions achieved by producers are positive, but said "your best today may not be good enough tomorrow."
Sustainability Task Force Chairman Jennifer James welcomed the release of Field to Market's environmental indicators report documenting grower progress and urged producer attendees to test the company's Fieldprint Calculator, a free online tool available to growers to help analyze their sustainability. "The triple-bottom-line is that any sustainability initiatives have to be focused on people, the planet and profit," Schulz said, adding that sustainability is an increasing focus for retailers, end-users and consumers. "We've been improving efficiency for generations," said task force member and Louisiana rice producer John Owen. "The biggest change is that we're beginning to document our progress now."