Perdue Farms announces two executive appointments in the areas of Sustainability and Live Production. Steve Levitsky has joined Perdue Farms Inc. as Vice President of Sustainability. Mike Levengood has been named to the new position of Vice President, Chief Animal Care Officer and Farmer Relationship Advocate for Perdue Foods LLC.
Levitsky joins Perdue from American Sugar Refining Inc. in Baltimore, where he served as Director of Corporate Sustainability and helped create and implement a global sustainability program. Levitsky reports to Chairman Jim Perdue.
“We’re pleased to welcome Steve to Perdue,” said Perdue. “His breadth of experience and proven performance in aligning business strategy to sustainability opportunities make him an excellent choice to advance our commitment to growing our company sustainably, enhancing our reputation as a responsible corporate citizen and living up to our commitment to being responsible stewards of the natural resources we use.”
Levitsky will be responsible for advancing Perdue’s progress in achieving sustainable growth, fostering working relationships with a broad-spectrum of stakeholders at the federal, state and local level, and serving as the company’s spokesperson on sustainability and environmental matters.
Prior to American Sugar, Levitsky served as Manager of Environmental and Sustainability Services for Sustainable Resources Group in State College, Pa., and Vice President of Chambers Environmental Group in Bellefonte, Pa. He has been on the Board of Directors of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals since 2012, and served on the Maryland State Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities by appointment of the governor. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional for new construction.
Levitsky holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental resource management, a master’s degree in business administration and completed graduate degree soil science classes to obtain soil scientist certification. All of his degrees are from Pennsylvania State University.
Levengood's new position was created to increase focus on further improving Perdue’s animal husbandry programs, and maintaining and enhancing relationships with farmers.
Levengood will be responsible for managing and ensuring compliance and continuous innovation of Perdue's poultry welfare and biosecurity programs, and advancing the relationships with those who raise the company’s chickens under contract.
“Consumers want to know more about how their food is produced, including how we raise our chickens, and our relationship with the farmers who care for those chickens,” said Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, Senior Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Live Operations for Perdue Foods. “Perdue and its farmers are working together to assure responsible animal care, and together we’re committed to continuous improvement and increased transparency.
“We could not have led the way in moving away from antibiotic use without the cooperation of our farmers, who have made it possible for us to raise chickens without relying on antibiotics to keep them healthy,” added Stewart-Brown. “That relationship will be increasingly important to our mutual success as consumer and customer expectations continue to evolve.”
As Randy Day, president of Perdue Foods, explained, “Creating this new position brings greater focus and attention to these important areas of our belief in responsible food and agriculture, and as we work to fulfill our mission ‘to be the most trusted name in food and agricultural products.’ "
Levengood, who joined Perdue as a flock advisor working with farm families, has experience in roles of increasing responsibility both in processing and live production operations. He serves on the board of the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association, is a past chairman of the National Chicken Council Growout Committee and still serves on the committee in an advisory role. Levengood has a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management from Pennsylvania State University.
The newly created position was in part inspired by Perdue’s acquisitions of Coleman Natural Foods and of Natural Food Holdings, parent company of Niman Ranch.
“Coleman Natural Foods and Niman Ranch are both recognized for their animal welfare programs,” said Day. “Learning from Coleman’s no-antibiotics-ever and organic production helped us move away from antibiotics. Niman Ranch not only has pioneered high animal care standards, they also have a Family Farming Advocate position. Mike will drive our continued learning, and, by reporting to our senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production, to help lead us toward continuous improvement.”