The National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) is one of a group of producer organizations and suppliers, along with conservation organizations taking part in an agriculture sustainability initiative.

NCGA and the groups are teaming up to identify practices for increasing production agriculture's sustainability with a focus on results. The goal is to give growers diverse, economically viable production choices to employ to achieve the broadest possible adoption. The committee aims to have a pilot program developed and operating by March 2008, with broad participation in the fall.

The initiative is spearheaded by Keystone Center, a neutral, non-profit organization that specializes in facilitating scientific and policy outcomes that are enabled by expert science, careful convening and skilled process.

In addition to NCGA, other participating groups include: American Soybean Association; Bunge Limited; Cargill; Conservation International; DuPont; General Mills; Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association; The H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment; Mars, Inc.; Monsanto; National Cotton Council of America; The Nature Conservancy; United Soybean Board; and World Wildlife Fund - U.S.

As an initial step, the group has agreed to the following foundational principles:

We believe world food demands, grower needs and desirable land use patterns all require intensification of agriculture. We further believe that increased production must be accomplished in a manner that does not negatively impact, and actually improves, overall environmental and societal outcomes.

We believe sustainable agriculture can meet the needs of the present while improving the ability of future generations to meet their own needs by focusing on these specific, critical outcomes:

• Increasing productivity to meet future nutritional needs while decreasing impacts on the environment, including water, soil, habitat, air quality and climate emissions and land use.

• Improving human health through access to safe, nutritious food.

• Improving the social and economic well-being of agricultural communities.

This group is leading a broad based conversation to define specific actions that can have the greatest impact on sustainable agriculture by:

Focusing on outcomes and results.

• Allowing growers to find the best ways to achieve results through a full range of agricultural technology choices.

• Applying information at the grower-by-grower level in support of the larger, overarching goal of shifting the entire sustainability curve.

• Driving change where the opportunity is greatest, throughout conventional agriculture.

• Developing the opportunity for creating broader awareness of the program by branding the effort where appropriate.

• Creating pull through the production system all the way to the consumer.

Using peer-reviewed science to identify goals and measure impacts and results.

The group will first promote the positive environmental impacts associated with best practices in production agriculture, focusing on the areas of water, soil and habitat. The group will meet in Washington, D.C. in September to continue its work on the pilot program development.