ALEXANDRIA, Va. — American Peanut Council (APC) has named Eric Coronel the trade association’s first-ever sustainability director. Coronel’s first project will be to launch a nationwide framework for collecting and analyzing grower data to tell U.S. peanut’s sustainability story and that’s just for starters, says APC President & CEO Richard Owen.
“Today’s society demands that food is sustainably produced. At the same time, U.S. peanut growers must be able to make a sustainable living,” said APC’s Owen. “Eric has the skillset and experience the peanut industry needs to document our sustainability story, to drive our own sustainable future.”
Owen noted that Coronel is based in Tifton, Georgia.
From commodity crops to peanuts
Coronel’s experience with the largest commodity-crop sustainability alliance has prepared him well for his new position scaling up the peanut industry approach to sustainability, reported Owen.
As a senior research analyst with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, Coronel oversaw the massive data collection and analysis that yields the alliance’s National Indicators Report. These reports, produced every five years, assess year-to-year progress of 11 U.S. commodity crops against indicators of environmental sustainability, including soil conservation, water use, and greenhouse gas emissions. The reports also offer recommendations to producers and other stakeholders to help continue commodity crops’ sustainability progress. Field to Market is also the developer of the Fieldprint Platform, the leading tool for growers to capture their farming practices and obtain sustainability metric scores field by field.
Coronel’s first project for APC will be to work directly with U.S. peanut growers, to gather data from them to document peanut’s sustainability story that can be aggregated and shared with customers and consumers here and abroad. In return, growers can apply what they learn from the sustainability platform to drive their own farm improvements and profitability. APC will also produce tools to help the peanut supply chain communicate about peanut sustainability with their customers and stakeholders.
“U.S. peanut growers produce a safe, nutritious, and resource-efficient crop. I want to help peanut growers share their sustainability stories through data,” said Coronel. “This opportunity at APC checks off all my professional interests: working with growers, collaborating with stakeholders, analyzing data, and sharing results.”
Coronel earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in environmental science from Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. in agronomy and crop science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He worked first for John Deere as a research agronomist before moving to Field to Market to specialize in sustainability. He said he found his passion working with growers and showing them how their farming practices translate into environmental outcomes.
“I love working with data, interpreting and communicating insights to drive decision making. I’ve been fortunate to sit in tractor and combine cabins, having many productive interactions with growers over the years, learning about their operations and sharing data and results with them so that they have a superior outcome,” said Coronel.
He also likes bringing the industry together, Coronel said. “I have had the opportunity to lead groups of stakeholders across the supply chain, including facilitating cross-sector dialogues. When sectors come together, that’s when growers benefit the most.”
Owen: More ahead
Owen stressed that the grower data collection and reporting initiative is a significant industry-wide initiative and will be APC’s first foray into sustainability, but not its last on the U.S. peanut industry’s behalf.
For example, he noted that international buyers of U.S. peanuts are increasingly imposing sustainability requirements, so U.S. suppliers must be able to compete with suppliers from countries with their own sustainability initiatives. APC also plans to explore pathways for peanut producers to participate in carbon and other ecosystem services trading marketplaces.
“Sustainability isn’t just a factor in capturing market share, it’s also a business opportunity for growers,” said Owen.
About American Peanut Council
American Peanut Council’s mission is to support the long-term growth of the U.S. peanut industry. The only organization that represents the entire peanut supply chain, APC offers a forum and unified voice for all industry sectors. APC’s work includes managing industry issues, promoting increasing
–American Peanut Council