Bill Lovette, chairman of Sauer Brands, Inc. and Joseph James Capital Partners LLC and retired president and CEO of Pilgrim’s Pride, was the keynote speaker at the USPOULTRY Foundation’s Executive Luncheon, held during the 2020 International Production & Processing Expo. Lovette is former chairman of USPOULTRY and its Foundation, as well as the National Chicken Council.

During his presentation on “Musings from a Has-Been,” Lovette stated that the modern poultry industry was built by families and, therefore, has always reflected family values and integrity. He said, “never lose that.”

Lovette went on to discuss the number of family farms today versus in the 1980s and provided information on the current resources used by the industry, remarking that it takes 75% fewer resources today to produce the same amount of chicken than it did in 1965, including 72% less farmland, 58% less water and 39% less fossil fuel. He further touched on the industry’s effort to reduce injury and illness incidence rates in poultry processing that now matches manufacturing, as well as, discussed the reduction, well below USDA standards, in Salmonella prevalence on standard whole broiler carcasses and chicken parts. Lovette continued by outlining the poultry industry’s economic impact in the United States, observing that companies involved in the production and processing of poultry provide 1,984,784 million jobs that pay $109 billion in wages to families throughout the country and generate $495.1 billion in annual economic impact and $38.5 billion in taxes.

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Lovette also remarked that the poultry industry has a daunting challenge – us! He said we tend to focus on the scientific aspects of a situation, as in ‘show me the science,’ while our detractors concentrate on emotions and other aspects of human nature. He stressed that transparency and trust are of utmost importance.

Lovette concluded his presentation by remarking on the need to attract young talent for a sustainable future. He discussed the six remaining universities with poultry science departments, as well as the long-term student recruitment funding provided by the USPOULTRY Foundation to attract young talent into the poultry industry. He remarked that we certainly need many disciplines in our industry and that we must retain an adequate core of poultry scientists to continue to work symbiotically with the industry on our path of continuous improvement.