SBA, cooperative to test sustainability criteria

By Susanne Retka Schill | February 10, 2009
Web exclusive posted Feb. 13, 2009, at 2:05 p.m. CST

The Sustainable Biodiesel Alliance announced a partnership Feb. 13 to field test its Baseline Practices for Sustainability with Wisconsin-based Organic Valley Family of Farms. The nonprofit SBA published its baseline practices in December 2008, after a yearlong consultation process involving the biodiesel industry, environmentalists and other stakeholders. Organic Valley will be the first organization to test the applicability of the BPS among its farmer members and in its distribution system.

Organized in 1988, Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. The cooperative includes 1,322 farmers in 34 states and one Canadian province. It was an early adopter of biodiesel in its fleet, and encourages renewable energy use among its farmers-owners that supply dairy products, eggs, produce, soy, juice and meats for nationwide distribution.

Organic Valley will apply the practices outlined in the BPS document to their existing systems and report its findings to the SBA. The data collected from Organic Valley and other pilot programs which will be launched later this year, will be used to develop criteria and indicators for an independent certification system for sustainable biodiesel that the SBA plans to implement in 2010.

The SBA was founded in 2006 to promote environmentally and socially sustainable practices for the biodiesel industry. Its 25-page document, titled "Baseline Practices for Sustainability," outlines environmentally and socially sustainable practices for biodiesel feedstock, production, distribution and end users. "As a mission driven organization, the SBA develops tools for sustainability," said Jeff Plowman, executive director of SBA. "Having Organic Valley field test the BPS, will allow us to fine tune those tools."
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