At 30 years old, Ashley DeDecker, PhD., already has received accolades for her efforts to improve animal care and welfare in the pork industry. Her work, representing one of Smithfield Foods' key sustainability commitments, is featured in the latest installment of multi-media "Sustainability Stories" on SmithfieldCommitments.com.
"We are happy to share yet another story about the kind of dedication that has helped shape Smithfield's journey to incorporate sustainability throughout our business," said Larry Pope, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods. "Every day, our people make important decisions regarding our impact on the environment, our animals, our employees, the safety and quality of our products, and our communities."
DeDecker is assistant director of production research at Murphy-Brown LLC, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, and often works at Murphy-Brown's swine research farm in Rose Hill, N.C. She grew up in the industry, working on her family's 600-sow farrow-to-finish operation in Illinois, and studied the impacts of alternative housing systems on sow well-being for her doctoral work. Among other recognition, DeDecker received the National Pork Board Swine Innovation Award in 2011.
"I want to make as big an impact as possible," DeDecker said, citing the company's work in sow housing and studies geared to keeping swine comfortable in hot, humid conditions.
Smithfield's animal care program includes strict biosecurity procedures, an audit program, and a focus on safe transportation among other components, but is ultimately guided by the company's Animal Care Policy. This policy applies to farms owned by Murphy-Brown LLC as well as its contract producers.
Smithfield believes that sustainability is a journey, not a destination, and corporations must continually strive to exceed what is expected of them. This belief is ingrained in the culture and operations at Smithfield Foods. The online sustainability stories help share Smithfield's journey, introduce the people who create this culture and further the commitment to transparent and engaging communication.
The first installment of "Sustainability Stories" featured CEO Pope and Chief Sustainability Officer Dennis Treacy.