Last month, Manomet’s Andy Whitman tested the newest iteration of the Vital Capital Index for Dairy Agriculture (VCI™) with a group of farmers from the Agri-Mark Sustainable Farms Committee.


Whitman, director of Manomet’s Natural Capital Initiative, led the development of the Index to help dairy farmers measure their sustainability and continuously improve their farm’s performance. The VCI™ covers 14 key sustainability stewardship topics, including open space, water conservation, waste management and soil health and stewardship.


Agri-Mark is a New England dairy cooperative and the producer of the Cabot brand of dairy products.


Two previous iterations of the Index had been field-tested with more than 80 farmers from 10 different states.


“With VCI™ 3.0, we have jumped ahead to create a tool that lets a farmer start at any level. Many tools aim to engage first adopters who are risk takers. They overlook the late adopters who like the tools to be made easy,” Whitman said. “Our innovation has been possible by working with Agri-Mark and dairy farmers to figure this out.”


On April 10 and 11, Whitman reviewed the latest version of the VCI™ with Agri-Mark field representatives who will, in turn, be asking farmers to participate.


Whitman personally reviewed the VCI™ with farmers on Agri-Mark’s Sustainable Farms Committee. About 20 farmers present at the meetings completed the entire process.


– Dave McGlinchey