RESPONSIBLE PEST MANAGEMENT (RPM) FRAMEWORK
TSC identifies pesticide application as a hotspot within its THESIS methodology, alongside its associated improvement opportunities (IO).THESIS includes a KPI related to pest management which asks for the percent of one’s supply that comes from farming operations that have a verifiable, site-based, environmental health and safety program to assess management practices and the impact of pesticides on humans and the environment. Through this KPI, THESIS users share valuable data on their pesticide use across a wide range of product categories. Over the past four years, this THESIS KPI score has improved but still averages 45%, indicating that companies are building transparency on this issue, but still need support in improving communication and leadership across the value chain.
At any given time, our staff and members are working on projects all over the sustainability spectrum. From pilot projects with retailers to facilitating guidelines involving multiple stakeholders to developing visual language standards for supply chains, TSC is constantly in motion. Below are just a few examples of the kind of initiatives TSC either leads or is a part of. Want to get in on the action? Find out how to partner with TSC on a project or how to become a member and join the leaders in sustainability.
We were encouraged by farmers’ broad adoption of pest-management strategies and also by areas of opportunity for continued progress, such as developing on-farm pest management plans and consulting trusted advisers.
The aggregated results from implementing the Responsible Pest Management questions with farmers in our sourcing areas provided greater transparency into the diversity of pest management measures used to grow our crop ingredients
For growers in high-tech greenhouses using stone wool growing media, biological crop protection has become the standard instead of relying solely on chemicals. With the Responsible Pest Management Framework, the growing industry has the wonderful opportunity to make this sustainable progress visible to stakeholders.
We were pleasantly surprised at how super easy it was to integrate the pest management questions within ongoing farmer sustainability initiatives without adding incremental costs and data entry efforts for farmers
The mission of the project was to develop an innovative, science-based approach for measuring RPM in crop production to enable improved communication throughout the value chain.
WHAT WE DID
TSC members and partners convened, imagined, and collectively developed a tool to address the need for a consistent and practical way to communicate leadership in Responsible Pest Management (RPM) across the value chain. The goal was to develop a framework that evaluates responsible pest management approaches and their effectiveness in a transparent and consistent manner. This crowd–sourced and multi-stakeholder project used research across Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles and other leadership methods of pest management to produce the RPM framework. The RPM framework is the first ever standardized science-based, stakeholder-informed assessment protocol that provides a common methodology for measuring and communicating leadership in responsible pest management. The framework focuses on food, fiber, and forest production and the geographic scope is global, with flexibility to apply regionally. The RPM Framework builds on TSC’s existing work on pesticide application, ensuring pest management is done responsibly and companies communicate status and progress on pest management practices in a consistent way. The vision of the RPM Framework project is a world where Consumers Product Goods companies & retailers report improved understanding of RPM practices on farm & forest, and improved ability to communicate to consumers about RPM.
The Responsible Pest Management Framework outlines specific successful pest management practices and decisions (called Drivers) that include some of the many Improvement Opportunities TSC refers to in its work on pesticide application, including IPM practices. The framework identifies four major desired outcomes for growing healthy crops and minimizing adverse health effects on the public, animals, agricultural workers, and the environment:
LONG-TERM SYSTEM RESILIENCE
HUMAN & ANIMAL HEALTH
Drivers are then linked to the four outcomes. Across each driver, a spectrum of practice-based indicators are assigned to reflect Basic, Medium, and High levels of leadership. The basic level focuses on tracking and record-keeping on one’s own farm. Medium focuses on the review of records and the combination of non-chemical methods into one’s own farm. The High level indicates influence beyond one’s own farm, the application of diverse methods, regularly monitoring for success, inspiring others, and sharing information.
To develop the RPM Framework, the group used a crowd-sourcing approach, working across industries to collect cropping system examples. During the year-long project, the framework went through 4 stakeholder review processes, and was used by multiple organizations throughout the development process to test its relevance to specific cropping systems. The framework uses a holistic approach to provide context to both the practices that reduce the impacts of pesticide use, as well as accounting for the economic aspects of optimal yield and investment in technology. Moreover, the group worked closely with existing initiatives to ensure that the framework is complimentary to existing certifications and tools.
USING RPM FRAMEWORK
OPEN SOURCE AND SUPPLY CHAIN FOCUSED:
The RPM Framework can be implemented by TSC members and others interested in using this tool in their supply chains
FRAMEWORK AS A GUIDE:
Users are responsible for the development of relevant grower self-assessment questions for their specific crops and region, maintaining the intent of the RPM Framework
A LIVING SYSTEM:
User guidance is available and will be improved over time to include “crowd-sourced” crop and region-specific information and support for self-assessment question development
EXAMPLES OF BEST PRACTICES
Use framework as outreach tool to initiate communication
The framework can be used to initiate a conversation with growers or marketing teams to facilitate communication and do it in a consistent and practical way.
Use framework alongside existing metrics
Many companies that produce and sell food, fiber, and forestry products are already working with their growers through an on-farm tool or they rely on a certification to inform their goals for pest management. While these systems provide insight into some aspects of pest management, many are still seeking guidance on how to improve communication with CPG companies, retailers, and consumers about the topic of pest management. The RPM framework, provides an additional guide for further communicating the pest management practices used in the production of the products you sell. To facilitate this alignment between systems, the group worked closely with existing initiatives to ensure that the framework is complimentary to existing certification and tools. A mapping is provided to demonstrate how to use the framework in connection with an existing tool that growers may be using.
Use framework to inform additional questions for growers in existing project
For those who may already have communications with growers, but you want a more holistic picture of what is happening in the production of food, fiber, or forest based on yield, environmental stewardship, resilience, and health, then this framework can provide additional context for other information you may want to add to your existing communications.
Use framework language to inform communication with marketing teams or consumers directly
The framework can be used to more holistically explain the types of pest management practices that are used in the production of your products so that your marketing teams can more easily tell the story of where you are on the journey to responsible pest management.
Use framework to support THESIS responses (e.g. guidance or KPI updates)
When answering THESIS KPIs for pest management, the framework can be a tool to facilitate further gathering information about your product production in order to improve your score in THESIS.