ECA Food Security Coalition expands reach; Alliance to unite CEA producers in a new association
Washington, DC – The CEA Food Safety Coalition, founded in 2019 to develop industry-wide food safety standards for growers of indoor leafy greens, is expanding its mission to meet the broader needs of all environmentally controlled food producers.
“With a new name and mission, the new Controlled Environment Agriculture Alliance – ‘CEA Alliance’ – will expand its membership to serve growers providing consumers with the freshest, tastiest and most nutritious fruits and vegetables, with the less environmental impact; reduce the use of water, land and other scarce resources; and employing the most rigorous practices to ensure the safety of our products,” said Tom Stenzel, Executive Director of CEA Alliance.
Members include a wide variety of indoor vertical farms and greenhouse growers. The CEA Alliance Board of Directors includes:
- Marc Oshima, co-founder and marketing director, AeroFarms
- Katie Seawell, Commercial Director, Bowery Farming
- Tim Cunniff, Co-Founder and Executive Vice President of Sales, Little Leaf Farms
- Todd Linsky, Superior Fresh/TLC
- Dinesh Babu, Vice President of Food Safety and Compliance, Revol Greens
- Matt Lingard, Vice President for Agriculture and Science, Bright Farms
- Dan Malech, Senior Vice President, Strategy and General Counsel, Plenty
The CEA Alliance will continue to support single food safety standards for indoor-grown produce, but will expand its service portfolio to include strong public policy advocacy, support for sustainability and climate-smart agriculture. climate, and support for retail and restaurant businesses in delivering differentiated products to consumers.
Environmentally controlled growers use a variety of agricultural production methods and technologies to create optimal growing conditions, including indoor vertical farms and glass greenhouses with stringent environmental controls. Producers use innovative technologies
such as hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics and soil-based systems to grow a wide variety of specialty crops.
Environmentally controlled products are a distinct and rapidly growing category, providing benefits to consumers, the environment, communities and the entire agricultural food system.
- Good for consumers. Products from the controlled environment set the bar high for quality, cleanliness and availability, providing a differentiated option for consumers concerned about their food experience and the health of their families. This includes rigorous standards for quality and freshness, as well as the highest standards for food safety. Year-round growth brings consumers consistency and reliability, with a supply chain unaffected by climate change and erratic weather.
- Good for the environment. Environmentally controlled products have significant environmental benefits, including reduced use of water, land and other scarce natural resources. Indoor growers use fewer or no pesticides, reduce food waste and reduce carbon emissions from long-distance transport by locating farms closer to markets
- Good for communities. Controlled environment farming creates a new generation of stable, high-quality agricultural jobs that are permanent, pay good wages, and provide a safe and comfortable working environment. CEA producers support urban and rural communities, often bringing good jobs to economically disadvantaged communities.
- Good for the food system. By eliminating seasonality and variability, increasing domestic production, bringing food production closer to the end consumer, and producing more products with fewer inputs, controlled environment agriculture will reduce the impact on the food system of events weather, supply shocks, geopolitical events, droughts and other unknown events.
The CEA Alliance will strive to establish consistent metrics to measure and communicate these key benefits, in collaboration with our stakeholders and in accordance with existing recognized global standards. These measures will be measurable, transparent and verifiable, allowing companies to credibly communicate with consumers and other stakeholders about their operations.
“Transparency with our customers and end consumers is an important part of our culture,” Stenzel said. “Consumers can count on CEA producers to seek continuous improvement in growing the most sustainable, nutritious and freshest products possible, using the highest standards for food safety and quality.”
“CEA growers aspire to be the fresh produce of choice for consumers, while working with traditional outside growers to increase fruit and vegetable consumption,” Stenzel said. “Consumers around the world need to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables for health, and produce grown in CEA will be an important ally of conventional agriculture in providing that solution.”
The CEA Alliance previously worked with a retail advisory committee, but will now add a new membership category for retail and restaurant businesses, now joining CEA producers, their commercial service providers, government researchers and academics as key participants in the membership association.
“Together with our retail and foodservice partners, we offer consumers in the market a choice that meets their needs for the highest quality fruits and vegetables, grown in a way that shares their values of environmental sustainability. , reduces the use of natural resources and supports their communities,” concluded Stenzel.
The CEA Alliance recently supported the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in taking a policy stance in favor of investing in CEA agriculture. The association will hold its first federal public policy meeting in February 2023 in Washington, DC to inform policymakers of the opportunities in the 2023 Farm Bill and future legislation to support consumers through controlled environment farming.
To learn more about the CEA Alliance and to be part of the future of indoor farming, please contact Tom Stenzel, Executive Director of the CEA Alliance, at [email protected]