Crafting sustainability programs in the field

January 9, 2020

The farmer cooperative approach

UEP is a member of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC), which recently published a Field Guide for Farmer Cooperatives’ Sustainability Programs.

The Field Guide explains why an operation might engage in a sustainability program and then gives practical steps for doing so. The guide does not set any specific program elements or content for individual organizations; each operation must determine these.  Egg producers should consider familiarizing themselves with the Field Guide as a complement to the work that UEP is doing as a founding and active member in the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs (USRSPE). USRPSE was formed by major poultry trade associations and related companies to collaborate on advancing the sustainability of egg and meat bird operations, including the welfare of the animals in producers’ care.

While the USRSPE focuses on the big picture elements of sustainability frameworks for the poultry sectors, a successful sustainability program for any operation will be customized to meet the specific characteristics, circumstances and goals of the operation.  NCFC’s Field Guide appears to be an excellent resource for any egg producer that wants to consider and explore a sustainability program in detail for their operation.

NCFC’s Field Guide defines sustainability as encompassing three primary elements: (1) economic viability, (2) environmental stewardship, and (3) community well-being. The guide provides in detail the six primary steps for developing and implementing a program for an operation; (1) laying the groundwork and getting started, (2) engaging with your own people and people outside your organization, (3) developing goals and making decisions, (4) implementation, (5) reporting on your progress and outcomes, and (6) evaluating and improving your program.

UEP staff is studying the Field Guide to assess how it might be useful to egg producers and support the industry’s sustainability efforts in the future.  UEP’s environment consultant Tom Hebert,, welcomes your comments on sustainability programs.