Bayer’s Certified FiberMax and Stoneville programs allow buyers to identify where their cotton was grown using a Bayer-maintained certification database.
The company says e3 offers three key benefits to cotton mills and brands. The program encourages reduced use of water, land and energy while maintaining productivity, Bayer says. Additionally e3 helps make farms financially competitive enterprises and addresses working and living conditions of growers and laborers, needs of the surrounding rural farm community, and health and safety aspects, according to Bayer.
Farmer enrollment is voluntary, but once enrolled, farmers make a commitment to the program and to continuous improvement in productivity, environmental management and personal well-being.
Farm performance is self-evaluated though the Fieldprint Calculator, an online tool designed by sustainable agriculture group Field to Market, and verified with in-season and post-harvest third-party audits.
During harvest, bales are entered into the database and the certified product is sent to the brand. The Fieldprint Calculator self-assessment shows farmers the impact of farming practices on natural resources, helping them operate more efficiently and establishing a point of comparison with local data averages. Thus, farmers can identify areas where improvements can be made in areas of sustainability such as: productivity, land use, soil loss, irrigation water use, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Bayer is also the founding sponsor of the Center for Global Produce Sustainability, which aims to help steer fresh fruit and vegetable growers — and those farther up and down the supply chain — towards best practices in sustainability.
The center, administered through the United Fresh Research and Education Foundation, received an initial $1.1 million grant from Bayer in 2009.
Last summer Walmart joined Field to Market, making it the largest member and first retailer in the alliance whose members include Cargill, General Mills, Kellogg, Monsanto, Coca-Cola Company and World Wildlife Fund, among others. An initiative of the nonprofit Keystone Center, Field to Market’s members include producers, agribusinesses, food companies and conservation organizations.