The U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol (SSAP), a third-party verified program developed by multiple stakeholders in the U.S. soy industry, is gaining acceptance as a sustainable soy sourcing standard by aquaculture and feed manufacturing organizations around the world, according to the Aquaculture Program of the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC).

As the aquaculture industry ramps up to meet growing global demand, the sourcing of sustainable feed ingredients is becoming a priority for feed manufacturers and aquaculture producers. This is especially important for sustainability certification schemes, such as the Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP), which has recently included the SSAP as a soy sourcing standard as a part of their revised feed mill standards.

The U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol, or SSAP, is a certified aggregate approach audited by third parties that demonstrate sustainable soybean production in the United States on a national scale. It was developed by the U.S. soy family, consisting of the United Soybean Board, American Soybean Association, U.S. Soybean Export Council and state soybean boards. In the 2016 marketing year, 6 million metric tons of U.S. SSAP-verified sustainable soy were exported from the United States, and in 2017 an increase is expected with shipments destined to 28 different international destinations.

The SSAP meets the sourcing criteria of many international organizations, such as the European Feed Manufacturer’ Federation (FEFAC). Additionally, it overlaps with 84 of the 98 elements of the Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS) standard, with the elements that don’t overlap already addressed by other mandatory U.S. government processes, such as local hiring, job training and community rights.

“Soybean farmers use sustainable practices such as crop rotation, no-till farming, cover crops and precision farming to protect the environment and nurture soil productivity for future generations,” said Colby Sutter, Director of USSEC’s International Soy in Aquaculture Program. “SSAP certification assures soy customers and end users that U.S. soybeans are produced with the highest standards for quality, food safety and environmental protection.”

The SSAP focuses on four sustainability directives:

  • Biodiversity, to protect grasslands, forests, wetlands, and habitat of threatened species and migratory birds;
  • Conservation practices to improve soil health and biodiversity and reduce erosion, runoff, energy use and inputs;
  • Public labor and health and welfare; and
  • Continuous improvement in technology and cultural practices, which includes government programs for conservation, environmental quality, agricultural water enhancement and wildlife enhancement.

Sutter pointed out that U.S. soy produced under the SSAP exceeds some of the requirements and standards of global soy-sourcing organizations. “The SSAP goes much further than the RTRS, for example, in protecting habitats of endangered or threatened wildlife. Also, because most U.S. soy is produced in Midwest prairie states, there’s no threat to rainforests or sensitive ecosystems.”