“Sustainability is a journey that has no end. It is an ongoing effort that we must be prepared to look at forever,” said Paul Bredwell, VP of environmental programs, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY), while serving on the opening panel at the 2016 Sustainable Agriculture Summit in Atlanta. The panel discussion centered on the reoccurring theme that cross-industry collaboration is essential to advance continuous improvement in agriculture sustainability. 

Dr. John Glisson, VP of research, USPOULTRY, participated on a panel about “Hot Button Topics: From Antibiotics to GMOs.” Glisson addressed the hot topics of antibiotics, cage-free egg production and slower growing birds. Referencing antibiotics, Glisson remarked that the “less people know about a topic, the more emotional they are about it.” He also observed that the egg industry will have to invest billions to produce all the cage-free eggs that retailers are requesting, as well as opinioned that the one issue that makes the least sense from a sustainability standpoint is slower growing birds. “It is not based on facts, logic or reason,” expressed Glisson.

In addition to other commodity groups, the poultry industry was well represented at the Sustainable Agriculture Summit. Dr. Kate Barger-Weathers, director of world animal welfare, Cobb-Vantress, engaged in a dialogue with Paul Bredwell as part of a supply chain spotlight on poultry and eggs. The focus of the conversation centered on the increasing interest by retailers to source “slow growing chickens” for their customers and where the challenges of producing slow growing chickens would affect the supply chain. “Slow growing chickens are not a great story in terms of sustainability,” stated Barger-Weathers.

“Consumers want to know what you are doing in a language they can understand,” said Dr. Christine Daugherty, VP of sustainable food production, Tyson Foods, while participating on the closing keynote panel, along with representatives from The Coca-Cola Company and Kroger. The panelists gave insight into how their companies are providing their consumers with greater transparency around the products they produce.

USPOULTRY, along with Field to Market, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, the National Pork Board, the Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, co-sponsored the Sustainable Agriculture Summit, which brought together more than 500 diverse stakeholders from across the food and agricultural supply chain.