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Developing Tools to Assess Cost-Effective Equitable & Environmentally Sustainable Food Systems

The Sustainable Food Trust in collaboration with Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

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A graduate student team from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is exploring approaches needed to ensure food producers are financially accountable for any negative impacts of their production systems on the environment, public health and social equity including gender, and appropriately awarded for equivalent beneficial outcomes for the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT). SFT is a non-profit organization that works to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food and farming systems that nourish the health of both people and planet.


Globally our ecological system is failing.  Rampant waste of our natural resources, irresponsible farming practices, skewed economic parity, coupled with lack of gender equity, along with the agro sector's unprofitability, is jeopardizing our ability to provide society with healthy food and high-quality agricultural products. 


Sustainable agricultural practices work towards achieving a thriving ecosystem, productive economy and socio-economic parity. Each player within this value chain, from farmers to food processing companies, distributors, retailers and consumers can add value and do their part in building a viable future for all.

Deliverables & Impact

Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences team is revising a sustainable agriculture tool to include gender-based and race outcomes to its current framework and to test this tool in farms in the United States. Proven successful, the tool will be modified to be tested in Malawi with Malawian farming households. The tool and its results will then be used to further inform Sustainable Food Trust activities working to develop national and international policies to support more equitable and sustainable food systems and farming practices expected to benefit thousands of farmers in its countries of implementation.



  • The project increased awareness of the issues of gender and racial identity at farm level among farmers, hired managers and farm workers on farms in the US and in Canada.

  • Viewed by hundreds of the world’s best gender and agriculture researchers, the report was presented at the CGIAR and Wageningen University Cultivating Equality conference on the intersection between gender and agriculture research. 

  • The results from the research have been taken on board by the Global Farm Metric (GFM) scientific team and will be used as part of the scientific review process to bring academic rigor to the GFM Framework. Approximately 50-100 academics from around the world will be involved in the review process of online surveys and possibly also face to face workshops to review the results from the review process.

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Accounting for racism and sexism on the farm

In collaboration with the Sustainable Food Trust and supported by Women Forward International, a group of Cornell University researchers have set out investigating how farms may account for the true costs of racial and gender inequity within the farm gate.

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