July 10, 2024

Jamie Burr, chief sustainability officer at National Pork Board (left), served as the moderator for the session titled, “Strategic Sustainability Partnerships: How ‘We Care’ Supports Our Customers Today and Into the Future.” Panelists included Sarah Kipp, McDonald’s; Daniel Peerless, Nestle; Chris McLeland, Ducks Unlimited; and Pat Hord, Hord Family Farms.

In one of the highly anticipated panel discussions at this year’s National Pork Industry Conference held earlier this week in Wisconsin, Pat Hord, CEO of Hord Family Farms, offered his insights into how producers can more effectively share their own sustainability story with the pork chain so that they can continue to sell pork to consumers.

“For our farm, sustainability starts with our core values,” Hord said. “As producers, we need to ask how we can help our chain partners, who we are in business with, what they need to connect better with their customers about sustainability. That means talking about the good things we are doing at the farm level, which will be especially critical with the upcoming demographic changes to consumers that see sustainability as very important.”

“Sustainability as defined by the National Pork Board’s producer leadership is centered on the We Care ethical principles,” said Jamie Burr, chief sustainability officer at NPB and moderator of the panel. “And it’s the goals around the metrics set by our producer leaders of each of these that are critical to ensuring that producers can report and tell the public what sustainability is. In the end, it’s about providing a pathway to help our customers defend their social license to sell pork.”

Hord credited the leadership of the Ohio Pork Council for being proactive about the sustainability issue in realizing that having on-farm reports is only the first step to achieving success in reaching consumers with factual information about how their food is produced in a way that resonate with them. Using the reports and the data they help gather to collaborate with pork chain partners is the next step in the process.

Aside from encouraging participation in NPB’s Pork Cares Farm Impact Report, Hord advises producers not to overlook all the things that seem like everyday actions on the farm that could have an impact on sustainability. This could include energy and water conservation, using solar panels, nutrient management, and agronomic practices.

For its part, Sarah Kipp say McDonald’s values the relationship it has with U.S. pork producers and never want to pit one producer versus another in terms of sustainability practices. Further, she says when the company reviews shareholder proposals for sustainability initiatives.

“We great at selling Egg McMuffins and hamburgers, but we’re not the experts when it comes to a lot of (production-related) things. That’s why we like to surround ourselves with the people who are educated in this area, and we always reserve the right to get smarter, which is something we pride ourselves on.”