The U.S. Sustainability Alliance (USSA) was the featured booth at SIAL Canada in April when U.S. Ambassador Bruce Hayman cut the ribbon to officially open the USA Pavilion in Montreal.
With more than 15,000 visitors and 850 exhibitors, SIAL Montreal is a major international food exhibition. In 2016, the United States was selected as the country of honor, and so the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) Ottawa requested that USSA participate to highlight the importance of sustainability and conservation programs for U.S. farmers, foresters and fisheries. The specially designed USSA booth was in a prime location and featured information and product displays of all the FAS cooperator alliance members, including USSEC.
USSEC’s participation was a part of a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) FAS Global Broad-based Initiative (GBI) on sustainability. USSEC acts as the lead in a sustainability alliance consisting of nineteen USDA cooperators representing agriculture, forestry and fisheries through the U.S. Sustainability Alliance (USSA).
The eye-catching pop-up posters included the messages “We did not inherit the land from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children” and “If we take care of the earth, the earth will take care of us,” which attracted a lot of attention and compliments for their appeal and message impact. A TV monitor at the booth featured the USSA infographic of a century of U.S. legislation, plus rolling videos featured soy, rice and wheat producers’ stories.
The two USSA representatives were busy throughout the three-day event and handled more than 50 visitor inquiries, often explaining at length the conservation and sustainability efforts of U.S. farming, forestry and fisheries. Notably, several educators asked permission to use the USSA web site in their school districts. The USSA also held a panel discussion outlining the work of the USSA and a case study on sustainable production by the Almond Board of California. The success of the USSA presence was confirmed by an invitation from the SIAL global organizers to participate in a live TV program on sustainability at SIAL Paris in October. This event, held every two years since 1964, attracts more than 6,000 exhibitors and nearly 200,000 visitors and is described as the global food marketplace.
Following SIAL Montreal, USSA surveyed all FAS cooperators on sustainability issues; the results clearly showed that an overwhelming majority of organizations (87 percent) believe that demonstrating sustainable production can create competitive market advantages for their products.
The survey also prompted a number of cooperators to join the alliance including American Peanut Council; National Renderers Association; Dry Bean Council; U.S. Hide, Skin & Leather Association; and Softwood Export Council. This brings the number of USSA cooperator members to 19 – up from the original 9 members.