Need for the M2M Program

The goal of the M2M program is to develop, validate, and apply analytical systems quantifying the impacts of farming systems, technology, and policy on:

  • Food nutritional quality
  • Food safety
  • Agricultural productivity and economic performance
  • Natural resources and the environment
Photo by Denise Krebs, CC BY 2.0

Photo by Denise Krebs, CC BY 2.0.

M2M’s mission is to create tools and conduct research that identifies profitable, sustainable, and health-promoting agricultural systems and value chains, in contrast to those that are dependent on declining water tables, excessive fossil fuel energy, soil degradation, or unacceptable treatment of animals or workers.

With increasing frequency, farmers and the food industry are being asked to quantify the impacts of their operations on food quality, food safety, and the environment.

“Sustainability” has evolved from an often-misunderstood buzzword to a widely accepted goal. Sustainability is best described as a journey, rather than a destination. Its three essential components are profitability, resource conservation and environmental health, and social acceptability. For any farm or food business to last, progress in any one of these areas of performance is dependent on adequate investment and achievements in the other two.

Jose Ibarra, CC BY 2.0

Photo by Jose Ibarra, CC BY 2.0.

A growing number of sustainability metrics and ecolabel programs are working to differentiate products and brands according to various combinations of performance standards and requirements ranging from total greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production, to the nutrient content and nutritional value of a serving of one food compared to another.

Farmers, food companies, retailers, and other farming and food professionals are juggling local efforts to promote sustainability and food quality with those from customers and consumers across the nation, and often from around the world.

The proliferation of third-party certification requirements, with their sometimes-conflicting standards, can impose a drain on management time and resources. Hence, the M2M program will also strive to help:

  • Harmonize overlapping standards,
  • Assure that production and food quality metrics are science-based and will bring about positive change cost-effectively, and
  • Streamline and standardize the collection of information required to document adherence to performance standards.

Within WSU, CSANR leads efforts in sustainable agriculture, food, and natural resource systems that are economically viable, environmentally sound, and socially responsible. This is why the multidisciplinary M2M program is lodged within CSANR.

CSANR projects focus on knowledge generation, education, and outreach. The CSANR facilitates new linkages and better communication between diverse interest groups, WSU units, growers, agencies, industry, environmental groups, and the public. The CSANR also provides factual information on relevant issues to a diverse audience through conferences, newsletters, research reports, on-farm documentation, tours, and special projects.

 

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