Significant Progress, New Initiatives in Environmental Efforts at Smithfield Foods

By | General, Sustainability | No Comments

We are excited to release the environment section of our 2017 Sustainability Report, highlighting our company’s progress in reducing our environmental impact while growing our operations responsibly to meet the growing global demand for pork. We had a significant year of achievements in 2017 of which we are quite proud!

At Smithfield, our supply chain begins at the farms that grow grain for our pigs. It incorporates our vertically integrated hog farming operations, our processing plants and the third-party transportation network that brings finished products to retail stores and restaurants. We work within our supply chain to make sure we provide consumers with quality foods produced in a responsible manner. By addressing environmental concerns in every facet of our business, we are able to get one step closer to our goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 25 percent by 2025 and reach our 2020 environmental targets.

This section of our 2017 Sustainability Report details our industry-leading environmental programs and initiatives, such as:

  • Innovative practices and platforms, including Smithfield Renewables, to help us achieve our commitment to reducing GHG emissions 25 percent by 2025 throughout our entire supply chain—the first commitment of its kind by a protein company.
  • Eight certified zero-waste-to-landfill facilities that save the company nearly $273,000 per year, with five more facilities expected to be certified by the end of 2018.
  • Projects recognized by our internal awards program that reduced water use by more than 86 million gallons and diverted more than 30 million pounds of waste from landfills in 2017. These, along with other environmental achievements, helped the company save an estimated $128 million over the past five years in operating costs.
  • Eighty third-party awards recognizing our environmental sustainability achievements in 2017.

Here are more highlights from our environment section in this infographic:

The next section of our report about food safety and quality will be coming soon—keep an eye out! Also, in case you missed the release of our animal care section, click here, and you can click here in case you were unable to attend the sustainability webinar I recently hosted.

I encourage you to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Stewart Leeth

Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer

Smithfield Foods, Inc.

The Absent Amphibian That Could Cost Your Company Millions

By | General, Shopfloor Legal | No Comments

Since its enactment in 1973, the Endangered Species Act has helped endangered and threatened species recover and prosper. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is now stretching the act to absurd lengths by restricting land use in the name of protecting a species that does not even inhabit the land.

The species in question is the dusky gopher frog. It lives only in Mississippi. In 2001, the FWS listed the species as endangered and declared 1,544 acres of private property 50 miles away in Louisiana as “critical habitat” for the frog—even though the frog does not live there and could not survive there under current conditions. The FWS defended the critical habitat designation on the basis that the frog could hypothetically survive on the Louisiana property if the landowner cuts down all the trees there, plants a different type of tree and then periodically burns the land to promote certain vegetation necessary for the frog’s survival.

A critical habitat designation broadly hampers the productive use of one’s land. Owners of land designated as critical habitat face immediate and significant restrictions on their otherwise lawful use of that land, as well as expensive and time-consuming new procedural requirements on ongoing and future projects, litigation risk and often a significant reduction in the property’s value.

Specifically, when a landowner applies for a federal permit to use or develop the property, a lengthy and expensive government consultation process is triggered. Based on that process, the government may substantially limit the scope of planned development and require burdensome mitigation measures. The FWS’s proposed mitigation measures for the dusky gopher frog on the Louisiana property, for example, would have destroyed $20.4 million of the land’s development value.

The broader consequences of the FWS’s position are frightening to imagine. With more than 1,500 different birds, mammals, amphibians, fish, plants and insects currently listed as either endangered or threatened, any land, infrastructure or factory site could be forced to comply with the onerous restrictions that accompany a critical habitat designation. The costs to individual businesses can easily reach into the millions of dollars. (Read more here.)

To fight this regulatory overreach, the Louisiana landowner sued in federal court to overturn the critical habitat designation. The case is now before the U.S. Supreme Court, where the NAM’s Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action filed a brief this week in support of the landowner. Our brief argues that the FWS exceeded its statutory authority under the Endangered Species Act and highlights how these actions impose significant harm and business uncertainty on manufacturers and other businesses.