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Sustainability Means Continuous Improvement in the Poultry Sector

03 October 2014

US - Sustainability involves continuous improvement rather than being an end-point, according to one of the speakers at a recent seminar on environmental management for the poultry industry.

“Sustainability is a continuous improvement, not an endpoint,” said Dr Marty Matlock [pictured above], executive director, Office for Sustainability, University of Arkansas, during his presentation on Science Based Metrics for Sustainable Outcomes in Poultry and Egg Production at USPOULTRY’s 2014 Environmental Management Seminar in Destin, Florida.

The annual conference is sponsored by US Poultry & Egg Association and was held in collaboration with the National Poultry Waste Management Symposium.

In addition to emphasising key sustainability challenges for agriculture, Dr Matlock explained that the pathway to continuous improvement relies on a process to define key performance indicators that can be benchmarked and measured to assess an industry’s improvement over time. Setting goals, another critical part of the process, allows industry to measure success and adapt strategy to improve outcomes.

Michele Boney, environmental compliance officer for West Liberty Foods, described the process West Liberty Foods took to become a designated “Landfill Free” company in her presentation on How to Become Landfill Free. Boney discussed the process analysis, relationship with local vendors and the method of determining and tracking waste streams. She remarked, “The whole key is motivation. We had to empower team members that being 'Landfill Free’ is a great thing.”

In his presentation on the Waters of the US, Michael Formica, chief environmental council with the National Pork Producers Council, discussed a proposed rule by the US Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that is intended to vastly expand EPA’s jurisdictional control over water and land use.

Mr Formica discussed the percentage increase in the number of streams that would be regulated by EPA and reviewed a project that mapped waters in 17 states to analyze the potential increase in EPA’s jurisdiction if the rule is finalized . Maps of the 17 states can be viewed at The project was funded by a variety of groups, including USPOULTRY.

Russ Dickson, manager of environmental compliance, Wayne Farms, presented on Stormwater Permitting Trends. Dickson gave a recap of past negotiations between the poultry industry and environmental regulatory agencies in Georgia and Alabama associated with potential bacteria in stormwater, which resulted in a multi-year, tiered approach to National Pollutant Discharge  Elimination System permits.

He then described the future of stormwater permits and how the industry can prepare for the next stormwater permit renewal cycle by encouraging poultry associations to take the lead. Dickson remarked, “Not just one integrator can be responsible for this. The whole industry has to look out for itself.”

Mr Dickson concluded by saying that “it’s very likely we will have bacterial limits on the next round of permits in Alabama and Georgia.”

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