What do you find to be the most difficult part of discussing sustainability? Share your thoughts on Twitter.

Happy Earth Day! I hope you take this opportunity to share some appreciation for the environment we live and work in on a daily basis. The agriculture community is lucky to have these landscapes as our offices.

I know not everyone in agriculture is excited to discuss earth day and sustainability. It can be a daunting conversation as we weigh the political and marketing noise that often surrounds the discussion. Many of us will become skeptics of campaigns for greater sustainability and are frustrated by the efforts of others to define the term for us.

The more I become aware of conversations surrounding our environment and the increasing demand for improved sustainability across all supply chains, I’ve realized the importance of agriculture being part of these discussions.

How do we discuss sustainability in our own way?

Several years ago, I began working on the Environmental Stewardship Award Program and it opened my eyes to how each of us plays a role in sustainability. We each have a unique way of sharing those examples, but we often struggle to find a way to do so.

To help celebrate Earth Day this year, I challenge you to share why sustainability is important to you.

You don’t have to define it. Sustainability is no one thing. Rather, it’s the culmination of many processes evolving over time. So how do we illustrate those elements?

The 3 Pillars of Sustainability

As I began working with farmers and ranchers from the national Environmental Stewardship program, helping them to craft their sustainability stories, I saw that each began with three key pillars.

Environmental stewardship  – what are you doing each day that ladders up to leaving your environment better than you found it? Rotational grazing, wildlife habitat, clean water projects, and cleaner air can all fit here.

Economic viability – yes, we have to make money as sustainable businesses, but that’s often perceived as profit and a bad thing. Can you describe how you’re using that economic viability to reinvest in the things that your audience cares about?

Social contributions – how are you giving back to your community and acknowledging consumer concerns? Consider the jobs provided to the community, or volunteering and donating to local organizations. Topics like animal welfare fit here, too, when they help us retain a social license to continue doing business.

Whether you decide to share your journey toward sustainability via spoken conversations, written word, or creative video, I encourage you to do so with confidence. Sustainability is our story to share and our conversation to be part of. We don’t work to define what sustainability looks like, someone else will do it for us.

This entry was originally published in the Beef Runner email update on April 22, 2021. To receive weekly advocacy tips and tools in your inbox, click here to subscribe.