Powerful Partnerships Grow a Climate for Tomorrow, By Ashley McDonald, Assistant Vice President of Sustainability at National Pork Board

Powerful partnerships are built on shared values. I am reminded of this truth daily as I see the agriculture industry live it out—the industry responsible for providing one of the necessities to sustain human life on this planet: food. The process of getting food from the farm to the table requires the work of many. It’s not just the grocery stores and the farmers – it’s the processors, distributors, transporters, retailers and suppliers. Each with business goals of their own, yet unable to get food into the hands of hungry consumers without help from one another.

A powerful partnership, indeed.

We all want (and need) access to clean water, fresh air, healthy soil and nutrient-dense food. The pork industry is committed to continuously improving our practices to do our part in ensuring those needs are met. We partner with members up and down the supply chain to benefit the entire agriculture industry and move forward in the right direction. The pork industry, for example, set a goal to reduce GHG emissions 40% by 2030 – a goal that would not be possible without collaboration and partnerships with others who share the same values.

While agriculture is responsible for only 10% of U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the pork industry accounts for approximately 4%. Despite this relatively small proportion, pig farmers are aware of the impact GHGs have on the environment and are committed to reducing their carbon footprint. The majority of GHG emissions in the pork industry are concentrated in the feed of the animals, making it necessary to work with feed producers to make improvements. Both types of producers share a common goal of reducing their environmental impact and their mutual support and understanding are critical to success.

In 2022, the National Pork Board and six other organizations were awarded $20 million through one of three climate-smart grants in which NPB is involved. Nestrade SA, Sustainable Environmental Consultants, Trust in Food (Farm Journal Inc.), Farm Credit Council, Millborn Seeds and Ducks Unlimited, Inc. to promote climate-smart agricultural practices and increase the sustainability of U.S. pork products. The grant provides producers financial assistance to implement sustainable practices on the ground, uses scientific models to show the effects of these practices on the climate and connects these improvements and data to the end user—ultimately building trust with consumers.

Partnerships spanning the entire supply chain are undoubtedly powerful, but it’s equally important for producers to collaborate with their checkoff organizations. By doing so, producers not only benefit their farms but also contribute to the betterment of the entire U.S. pork industry. Through these collaborations, they ensure the positive impact of their efforts stays within their industry and product, which leads to greater trust from consumers. This enhanced confidence in the quality and sustainability of their products helps to demonstrate that pork is good for people, pigs and the planet.

As we celebrate National Ag Day, let’s remember those shared values that unite us, so we can continue growing a climate for tomorrow and ensure everyone has access to the resources they need to thrive.