Collaborative, multi-year process was driven by farmers but informed by consumer expectations.
More than half of U.S. consumers have made some modest changes in their purchasing decisions to be more sustainable, according to the Global Sustainability Study 2021.1
Today, the National Pork Board (NPB) shared more about its industry’s aspiration to produce a leading sustainable protein choice, with an announcement of goals and metrics and its first official U.S. Pork Industry Sustainability Report.
Sustainability Goals Developed By Pork Producers
The goals and report are part of the NPB’s sustainability efforts, which are led by producers and funded by their Pork Checkoff dollars in collaboration with the National Pork Producers Council.
Closely aligned with 15 of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the goals were developed through a producer-led multi-year process, which considered customer needs and expectations.
They build on the industry’s established We Care® Ethical Principles: animal well-being, environmental stewardship, people and employees, communities, public health and food safety.
Producer-Driven Metrics Quantify Progress
In addition to sharing the goals, the report also outlines its producer-driven metrics approach, which quantifies progress through real, farm-level data. Each goal has specific reporting metrics and mechanisms in place to help individual farms – and in turn, the entire industry – measure and report progress.
“The producers involved in this effort wanted the industry’s goals to align with sustainability efforts globally while also making sure the approaches to accomplish them were as diverse as the 60,000-plus farms in our industry. As a result, these goals are truly measurable and also meaningful on a global and local scale,” said Sara Crawford, Ph.D., vice president of sustainability for NPB.
Individual On-Farm Sustainability Reports Measure Improvement
A key component to the industry’s established metrics infrastructure is On-Farm Sustainability reports, which provide free, farm-level data to help pork producers establish an individual baseline for social, environmental, and economic sustainability. The industry is focused on doubling the number of farms participating in the reports in the next 12 months.
“We need benchmarks to better track and monitor progress, and also to make better data-driven decisions for the future of pork production,” said Dale Stevermer, Minnesota pig farmer and participant in the goals and metrics development. “The On-Farm Sustainability Reports provide metrics that can be aggregated to track progress at the industry level, while also giving farmers individualized data that helps them make better decisions for the future of pork production.”
Report Builds On Pork Industry’s Long-Standing Commitment to Progress
While the current goals and metrics were recently finalized and reported, the industry’s work in this space is long-standing. The We Care Ethical Principles were established in 2007, and the new goals build on past progress, which includes using 75% less land, 25% less water and 7% percent less energy per pound of pork compared to 60 years ago.2
Crawford says past progress represents the industry’s commitment to looking forward.
“These goals and this report are new, but the commitment to working toward new and better solutions is continual. On-Farm Sustainability Reports and access to more data positions the industry better than ever to meet current food production needs while protecting future generations’ abilities to do the same.”
The full U.S. Pork Industry Sustainability Report is available at porkcares.org.