Q: What does sustainability
mean?

A: Achieving economic, social,
and environmental performance in today’s dynamic business
climate requires a sustainability strategy that is executed
with discipline year after year. This starts with farmers
reducing their emissions, preserving agricultural soils, and
ensuring the welfare of farm animals, which are the areas
where they are the ones that have the most opportunity to
make the biggest impact. Within our farm operations,
protecting the health and safety of any employees and
managing our farming operations to reduce our environmental
impact are key priorities. Together, these actions establish
us as trusted partners to both the communities we serve and
the customers we supply.

Q: How does our Purpose and
Vision strengthen our commitment to
sustainability?

A: As the world’s
population rapidly grows towards 10 billion people by 2050,
feeding that population in a sustainable way is a challenge
and opportunity for our industry. Our Purpose is to deliver
“farm-focused solutions to sustainably feed our world”
and our Vision is to be a “trusted partner to both the
communities we serve and the customers we
supply”.

Together, these statements reinforce our
commitment to innovation and the evolution of agriculture
solutions to help us produce more with less environmental
impact. Today, perhaps more than ever, we need to share our
values around sustainability which will allow us to protect
and grow the global food supply. Living our Purpose will
help us promote our industry as one that creates an
environment allows innovation and creativity in production
whilst still addressing the most pressing environmental
challenges.

Q: How has COVID-19 shaped our thinking
on sustainability?

A: Farmers are
central to our economy, and that’s never been clearer than
during the pandemic. Farmers around the world have been
united in their shared commitment to protecting each
other’s health and safety whilst also maintaining the
world’s security of food supply to help in preventing the
global health crisis from becoming a global hunger crisis.
The pandemic has underlined the important role agriculture
plays in society and the role that farmers play as
employers, manufacturers and as important members of our
communities. Farmers have a large role to play in
sustainability, and their sustainability strategies will be
the launch pad for focused creativity and innovation leading
to the security of food supply in the years to
come.

Q: Where does agriculture have the greatest
opportunity to reduce the impacts of climate
change?

A: Fundamentally,
agriculture can be a tremendous force for good when it comes
to climate change. Agricultural soils play a crucial role in
both food security and climate change. Globally, soils can
sequester a significant amount of carbon from the atmosphere
if paired with the right farming solutions and practices. By
developing the products and solutions for reducing global
carbon emissions farmers are doing their part to mitigate
climate change and to advance agriculture through
sustainable best practice options.

Population
growth and food security

From 7.3 billion in
2015 to 9.8 billion by 2050, the planet’s growing
population will put additional stress on the environment and
societies.

Urbanisation

55% of the world’s
population currently lives in cities and this number is
expected to keep growing to 68% by 2050. Concomitant with
the increasing urbanisation is an increasing risk of labour
shortages in rural areas. There have recently been many new
regulatory requirements placed on farmers which when added
together have the effect of discouraging potentially
environmentally sustainable farm business growth, which in
turn drives economic and employment growth. The
consequential negative economic impacts on small rural
towns, from this rural depopulation and the erosion of
community and social services has seen the demise of smaller
rural communities within affected
catchments.

Changing consumer
preferences

Consumers continue to seek
transparency in food production. Alongside this increasing
demand for transparency there has also been a move
throughout the developed world, to a much greater use of
plant protein as opposed to the current levels of animal
protein. Whereas, in many lower socio-economic environments,
as the economies are improving they are moving to an
increased use of animal protein. This is not in itself seen
as a problem for the agricultural industry as precision
farming investments will continue to improve yields across
all sectors whilst still allowing for reductions in costs
and environmental impacts.

Increasing focus on
animal welfare

As human standards of living
rise around the globe, driving demand for animal protein, so
do concerns about animal welfare and how to find more
sustainable and productive ways to raise healthy animals. We
as an industry are committed to a culture that supports
animal welfare across all sectors around the globe and
promoting awareness of advances in modern animal agriculture
that help producers care for their animals and reduce
environmental impact, while maximizing productivity to
deliver safe and sustainable animal protein to the global
food supply chain.

Land
use

Land is simultaneously a source and a
sink of CO2. Land degradation in agriculture systems can be
addressed through sustainable land management, with an
ecological and socioeconomic focus, with co-benefits for
climate change adaptation. Climate-related risks pose a
threat to economies around the world. Extreme events—
fires, freezes, floods, high winds—are occurring with
unprecedented frequency and already reshaping the world’s
socio-economic outlook. The food sector contributes over 20%
of total GHG emissions, with the agri-food chain accounting
for ~30% of the world’s total energy
demand.

Identifying What Matters Most

Our
success depends on understanding and responding to the
changing world in which we operate. We need to identify the
environmental, social, economic and governance issues that
are perceived as being most important to our stakeholders to
establish a broad view of current sustainability issues. The
resulting insights should help form our sustainability
approach, strategies, and reporting on the issues that
matter most to our stakeholders, and which we can
influence.

Engaging Stakeholders

Many of our
stakeholders have promoted a shift towards greater
environmental efficiencies in the agricultural sectors, and
accordingly regulatory requirements for greenhouse gas
emissions, fuel use and resource efficiency will intensify
in the future. Climate risk is expected to have a
significant impact on agriculture, as increased severe
weather events will affect farmer livelihood and food
security. Additionally, stakeholders mentioned the
transition towards sustainable farming practices to reduce
environmental impact. The agricultural industries should
focus on research and development partnerships to keep pace
with innovation so that digital technology can be leveraged
to help guarantee food security.

The industry needs to
focus towards clean tech and sustainable products, and
increasingly quantify the external environmental impact of
new products. Changing climates will affect how and where
agriculture can be done, therefore we should consider this a
top priority.

The agricultural industries have a broad
range of stakeholders which each have a vested interest in
securing the global food supply for current and future
generations. We need to regularly engage with those
stakeholders, (individuals, organizations, government bodies
and other entities) to discuss their priorities and the
important work we can do together.

The future farmer
is likely to resemble a computer scientist, leveraging
technology to increase productivity in order to meet the
rising demand for food.

Our Sustainability
Priorities

Advancing Soil Health and
Soil-Carbon Sequestration

Improving soil
health using best practical options such as cover crops,
no-till farming and managing soil compaction contribute
positively to mitigating climate change. Sequestering carbon
into agricultural soils and boosting crop yields is a
natural win-win for both the farmer and the environment. We
are committed to developing solutions to implement good soil
health practices.

We are already applying their
farming expertise to develop innovative solutions to
position agriculture to provide food security and also be a
part of the solution to climate change. We are committed to
reducing CO2 emissions across our farming sites to limit our
impact on climate change. Smart farming uses advanced
technology to increase productivity while reducing energy
waste and costs. Our initial priorities have been on
improving operational efficiencies. The goal of our research
and development efforts with respect to farming systems, is
to be a pioneer for the farmers of today and tomorrow by
designing lower emission and more sustainable
practices.

Engaging With Experts on Animal
Welfare

Farm animal welfare is a collective
issue for the food industry. As a proactive partner, we aim
to bring together voices from diverse backgrounds to advance
the field of animal protein production and provide insights
on current animal welfare topics and collaborate on evolving
welfare standards impacting farmers. Ultimately, we are
committed to engaging regularly with independent experts to
support the establishment of best practical options for farm
production criteria and set an example that we hope others
will follow.

Establish Smart
Partnerships

Recognizing the growing
engagement from consumers for information on how their farm
animals are raised, we should focus our research and
development efforts on technologies that demonstrate
optimized environmental conditions supporting animal welfare
and productivity. Digitalization of the farm has tremendous
potential to provide valuable insights to inform product and
service evolution to consumers, and to provide transparency
of production methods that consumers care
about.

Elevating Employee Health, Safety and
Well-Being

We recognize the importance of
health and safety to the farming business’s success. It is
our policy to operate in a safe, responsible manner that
respects the health and safety of our employees, our
customers and the communities in which we operate. We will
continually strive to work safe, every day, and every way.
We are committed to achieving zero work-related fatalities
across our global industry.

Advancing Soil Health and
Soil-Carbon Sequestration

Deepening Our
Engagement with Consumers on Soil
Health

Across all our sectors, we look to
find innovative solutions to tackle the challenge of
sustainably and feeding our world is no different. The
consumer is our guide, and in our conversations, we will
look to incorporate their insights and feedback on
sustainability issues that matter most to them to inform our
product and service innovation.

Promote Best
Practical Options to Farmers

BPO procedures
establish for a given set of objectives, the option that
provides the most benefits or the least damage to the
environment, as a whole, at acceptable cost, in the long
term as well as in the short term.

The BPO
framework is integrated throughout the RMA (1991), but most
critically through three main sections. First and foremost,
Section 2 (Interpretation and application) includes the
definition of what is meant by the best practicable option
in relation to a discharge of a contaminant or an emission
of noise in the context of the RMA (1991).

In this
context it means “the best method for preventing or
minimising the adverse effects on the environment having
regard, among other things, to—

(a) the nature of
the discharge or emission and the sensitivity of the
receiving environment to adverse effects; and

(b) the
financial implications, and the effects on the environment,
of that option when compared with other options;
and

(c) the current state of technical knowledge and
the likelihood that the option can be successfully
applied.”

THE BEST PRACTICABLE OPTION – WHAT DO WE
MEAN?

In order to consider what is actually meant by
the phrase – the best practicable option, there is value
in considering the individual definitions of each of its
three components.

The online Oxford Dictionaries
defines the ‘best’ as “that which is the most
excellent, outstanding or desirable”; ‘practicable’ as
“being able to be done or put into practice
successfully”; and ‘option’ as “a thing that is or
may be chosen” (Oxford Dictionaries, 2013).

Bringing
these individual definitions together, we can explain the
phrase to mean – the most desirable choice of something
that can be done or put into practice successfully to manage
our environment, while considering the economic, social,
cultural, and spiritual relationships we desire for our
Region.

With the above explanation in mind, it is
evident that the best practicable option phrase can be used
in different situations.

Using the above example as a
template and regard to farming the land, the use of BPO’s
in relation to control of discharges are also highly
situational and influenced by an array of factors such as
type of farming operation conducted, receiving water
catchment, scale of any discharge, topography, geology,
prevailing climate etc.

In the farming scenario,
arguably the person who is in the most appropriate position
to determine what their best practicable option is has to be
the farmer.

The use of BPO in farming then gives the
ability to allow flexibility of land use tailored to an
individual property and its influencing factors whilst
maintaining the observance of regulatory requirements in
relation to the quality of the local
environment.

© Scoop Media

 

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