"Sustainability in agriculture is being pursued in many different dimensions."
The Matrix compares the sustainability of six environmental management programs:
The biological and physical environmental dimension is most familiar, and includes aspects of the farm operation that have to do with water, soil and air quality, energy and other resource conservation, wildlife and biodiversity management, and crops and livestock stewardship.
This dimension includes the farmers' role in program administration such as record keeping, monitoring, decision-making, continuing education and how they can learn about program requirements.
The community dimension takes into account interactions with the broader community on and around the farm. This dimension includes community participation, consumer education, worker health and safety, and employee participation.
A few caveats accompany this matrix. The six programs we compared are diverse, so cross comparison was not always straightforward, and is not meant to identify failings in each program but to reveal neglected and overlapping areas of focus for these programs as a group. Also, of course every individual farmer will put rules into place in a different way, and this matrix has less to say about that "implementation." Finally, our results reflect what we found in the spring of 2006, and the current versions should be checked since these programs may have been updated.