Sustainability assemblages: From metrics development to metrics implementation in United States agriculture

Jason Konefal, Maki Hatanaka, Johann Strube, Leland Glenna, David Conner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Metrics that assess farmer sustainability performance have emerged as a leading approach to fostering continuous improvement in the sustainability of agriculture. As multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs) have developed sustainability metrics for US agriculture, these initiatives are entering a new phase focused on the adoption of metrics. This paper examines the approaches being used by two MSIs, Field to Market and the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops (SISC), to promote their respective metrics to farmers. Drawing on assemblage theory, we analyze the processes that MSIs are using to get their metrics implemented, and how the actual adoption of metrics takes place in agrifood supply chains. Specifically, we identify five processes that both Field to Market and SISC are using to facilitate the implementation of their metrics: (1) leveraging members, (2) utilizing supply chains, (3) providing technical assistance, (4) building technological platforms, and (5) creating partnerships. In identifying these processes, our analysis shifts understanding of metrics adoption beyond just consumer and market forces, and focuses attention on the specific actors and processes through which sustainability metrics are put into practice. In concluding, we highlight ongoing challenges facing Field to Market and SISC's efforts to construct assemblages around their metrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)502-509
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Rural Studies
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science


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