Seed World

Development of a Certification in Sustainability for Certified Crop Advisors

The United Soybean Board (USB), American Society of Agronomy (ASA), and the International Certified Crop Adviser (ICCA) Program have partnered to develop new training for a specialty certification focused on sustainable agricultural practices.

Consumers and the food industry are demanding that sustainable products be produced. Farmers, too, have a vested interest in sustainability as they are stewards of the land. “Best management practices” help growers protect the environment, produce abundant, safe food, and generate profit.

“The majority of U.S. soybean farmers are using sustainable practices, but we want to continue to improve our operations,” says Bill Beam, USB farmer-leader and soybean farmer from Elverson, Pennsylvania. “Programs such as this will help to create credible resources for farmers who are looking to implement more of these practices on their farms.”

Increasingly, farmers are turning to professionals to advise them about how to manage their land. Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) and Certified Professional Agronomists (CPAgs) are trained in the field of agronomy — the study of plants, soils, and their environment. To become certified, CCAs and CPAgs have undergone rigorous training and testing, and must continue with professional development to keep their certification. Additional training will be required for the new Sustainability Specialization Certification.

“CCAs are the single best influencers to work with local producers,” says Luther Smith, Director of Certification. “They can help growers adopt more sustainable crop production practices that will satisfy the future demands of the food industry and consumer.” There are currently 13,000 CCA/CPAgs certified by the American Society of Agronomy/International Certified Crop Adviser program.

The partnership between USB, ASA, and ICCA brings together the best minds from the public and private sectors. They will define sustainable crop production, best CCA practices, and develop standards for CCA certification in sustainability.

Food companies increasingly want to sustainably produce food and recognize that crop advisors are important influences. “In recent years, the entire agricultural supply chain has been working collaboratively to respond to consumer demands for more sustainable food production,” says Rod Snyder, president of Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. “We are proud to partner with the ICCA Program in developing their sustainability curriculum and believe CCAs have a fundamental role to play in helping farmers achieve continuous improvement in productivity and environmental outcomes.”

USB is providing financial support to ASA and the ICCA Program as well as recommendations for content expertise.  ASA and ICCA will manage the project and provide technical support through their staff and members.

For more information about the CCA program, visit