Can Pork Be Produced Sustainably? Yes!
Private-sector investment, innovation and scale is helping more farmers and ranchers shift to lower-carbon production systems. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor, led the protein industry as the first to announce an ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction goal throughout its entire supply chain. By 2025, Smithfield will reduce its absolute GHG emissions from its 2010 baseline by 25 percent, or four million metric tons, equivalent to removing 900,000 cars from the road.
The 25 by ’25 initiative began with the creation of a robust model to estimate the GHG footprint of Smithfield’s entire supply chain – a collaboration with the University of Minnesota’s NorthStar Institute for Sustainable Enterprise, and in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). To ensure Smithfield reaches this goal, the company launched Smithfield Renewables, a platform within the organization that will unify, lead, and accelerate its carbon reduction and renewable energy efforts. Smithfield made commitments to improve the carbon footprint of the feed crops for their pork production, optimize fertilizer use and improve soil health, install efficient manure management technologies and more efficiently track and manage logistics of transportation fleets to cuts costs and emissions.
In 2017, Smithfield fed its hogs more than 7.4 million pounds of grain. The GHG analysis of the Smithfield supply chain noted that animal feed accounts for 15 to 20 percent of their entire production carbon emissions. By helping farmers in their feed supply chain shift to efficient fertilizer and soil health practices (such as using cover crops, nitrogen sensors and other conservation practices) and by promoting sustainable grains such as sorghum (a resilient crop that costs less to grow, offers good nutrition for pigs and serves as part of a crop-diversification strategy) the program provides a triple win: more profit for farmers, improved soil and water health with less greenhouse gas emissions for the planet, and nutritious sources of feed for healthy pigs.