Net zero and the future of sustainable poultry production

Industry experts discuss what poultry producers can do to accelerate net zero and other sustainability goals during “Net zero and the future of sustainable poultry production,” a panel discussion recorded by and Evonik Animal Nutrition at the 2023 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE).

Evonik Ippe 2023 Panel Discussion, Presented By Watt Global Media

During “Net zero and the future of sustainable poultry production,” a panel discussion recorded by and Evonik Animal Nutrition at the 2023 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), a trio of industry experts discussed the things poultry producers can do to accelerate net zero and other sustainability goals.

The panelists were: 

Andy Rojeski, head of strategy, investor relations and Net Zero programs, Pilgrim’s

Faazi Adam, director of sustainability, animal nutrition line, Evonik

Lara Moody, executive director of IFEEDER

Terrence O’Keefe, content director, WATT Global Media, moderated the talk.

Terrence O’Keefe: Welcome to the Evonik and WATT Global Media panel discussion being recorded at IPPE 2023. Because of rising global temperatures, there's a growing international consensus across governments, academia and industry to work together to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We're glad that you could join us for a discussion on how the move towards net zero will impact how poultry are fed, raised, processed and marketed. Andy, in many countries, net zero pledges by companies are voluntary. What are the primary business reasons that some companies are making net zero pledges?

Andy Rojeski: As we think about Pilgrim’s Pride, it's our ethos to create a better future for our team members. And as part of that, we want to become the most respected and trusted throughout the industry. So as we think about the impact of climate change — not only on our business, but on the environment for future generations it’s something that we take seriously in terms of doing something about it and creating a better business for all that are involved. 

We've done a fair amount today and we recognize that there's still some work to be done. But I'm really impressed with some of the things where Pilgrim's has established leadership. If you go back to March of 2021, we issued $1 billion in sustainability-linked bonds with the expectation for us to go ahead and achieve a reduction of 30% from 2019 in our emissions. 

The second call that I have as we go forward is we've done some things in terms of how we're managing the business. Thinking about this past year, we've invested over $18 million to go ahead and reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout our business. We've also formed a sustainability committee within our board of directors. 

In terms of the day to day, as we think about some of those different metrics for executive compensation, we have a whole series of KPIs not only for our senior leadership, team, CEO, etc., but also at the complex level. 

Going forward, as we think about it, we're going to expand our focus, think about some of those scope three activities, what it takes to feed a chicken and raise a chicken. We're going to explore more partnerships with some of our suppliers. We're going to go ahead and work more closely with our growers. So that we can identify better ways to go ahead and run our business and become even more sustainable going forward.

O’Keefe: Has a framework been established for measuring and documenting improvements towards net zero for poultry production?

Lara Moody: While there are certainly opportunities, whether we have a standard framework that everybody is using, that's a different question. We absolutely have lifecycle assessments (LCAs) as a tool that we can utilize. We have methodologies, the greenhouse gas protocol, and others that we can utilize. But there's not one source or one methodology that folks are using from my perspective.

Faazi Adam: I think we're moving in the right direction. I think we're starting to see some convergence around particular sort of standards methodologies for conducting LCAs, but I still think there's some way to go if you look at the sector in general. As we were discussing earlier, for most companies, this is very, very new topic. There's a lot to learn. 

At Evonik, we're quite lucky that we've been conducting LCAs for 20 years now, and we have a dedicated team to do that. But that's not that's not the case for everybody. So now that we are starting to see some convergence around methodologies, it's also really about upscaling as well, and really investing the resource that's needed to deliver.

O’Keefe: Faazi, are there good baseline measurements for greenhouse gas emissions from the poultry supply chain now?

Adam: That's a good question. I mean, I guess there are some sort of big studies looking at the sort of emissions profile of poultry production looking at different stages of the value chain. But I think going forward, what's going to be really important is that companies are able to produce their own baseline and then report on their progress against it. 

For companies that have set science-based targets, companies that have ambition to the CHD targets, it's really important for them to be able to ask their suppliers for a consistent data set for reliable data that helps them to achieve their own targets. I think there's a lot of work that still needs to be done to get there, but we're moving in the right direction.

Rojeski: I absolutely agree. From Pilgrim’s standpoint, you mentioned science-based targets and we're taking that process right now. I think the benefit of that is to get some clarity regarding what the drivers are, where those opportunities exist, and equally important, what are some of the things that we can go ahead and do about it. By having that baseline, you can start creating that common language and understanding throughout your organization about where, how and what needs to change to go ahead and achieve those net zero targets.

O’Keefe: If we were going to take a 30,000-foot view of greenhouse gas emissions from raising, processing and marketing poultry, what's the biggest contributor? Where's the area where we can make the biggest difference if we make changes?

Moody: There's a lifecycle assessment that's been done on U.S. poultry production systems, and it indicates that the most significant contributor is feed – that’s probably common across all global poultry production. Within the U.S., feed is about 60% of that greenhouse gas footprint. Next to that would be manure systems and milling systems for feed – that’s about 10 to 12%. And then the other factors kind of diminishing from there. So feed is definitely the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the poultry sector.

O’Keefe: When I think about greenhouse gases, as someone who hasn't studied this, I think of biological activity – you know, the animal respiring – and then also burning fossil fuels. 

If we're going to raise birds in the future, and move the products around, where the birds are still going to need to eat and exhale carbon dioxide and excrete nitrogenous waste as they're either growing and adding meat or muscle or laying eggs. So, the question I have is in trying to lower the greenhouse gas emissions from crop production, how are we going to do that?

Moody: Crop production is a significant source of feedstuffs for poultry production systems. So, the footprint of crop production is a significant impact on the footprint of poultry production. One of the ways that we can address that footprint is through regenerative agriculture. That really puts a focus on soil health, which gives us the ability to add carbon to the soil. 

There are generally five accepted pillars for regenerative agricultural systems. Those would be practices that help us minimize disturbance to the soil, increase the production biodiversity on the farm, maintain an active cover on the soil, maintain live root systems in the soil and, where possible, integrate agricultural systems. 

Interestingly, again, there’s another study where there's an estimate that says that if we could put regenerative agricultural practices on all production systems within the U.S., we could potentially reduce our current agricultural greenhouse gas footprint by about 40% through carbon sequestration.

O’Keefe: Now, in effect, with regenerative agriculture, we’re talking about almost rebuilding the topsoil. When we do that, there are other benefits, right? Will that play a role in reducing the need for irrigation or the need for chemical fertilizers?

Moody: We won't ever reduce the need completely but building soil health is about building soil carbon. When we build soil carbon, we build the water holding capacity within the soil, and we build the ability to capture and recycle nutrients. If you're going to dry land system, increasing your water holding capacity means you can increase your resiliency during dry times. If you're in an irrigated system, it means you may be able to reduce your irrigation need relative to nutrients.

Carbon in the system increased carbon or that living root within the soil gives us the ability to capture nitrogen. Nitrogen leeches down through the soil, so we want to be able to capture that nitrogen so 1) we have it available to the crop and 2) it doesn't move into our waterways. That added carbon in the system helps to grab onto that nitrogen  either from commercially applied fertilizers or from nutrients that just cycle nitrogen cycles as a part of the natural biological process. The ability to kind of grab that nitrogen when it gets free and keep it from leaching makes it available to a future crop. 

So, yes, it's not going to solve the problem completely. We're still going to have to add some nutrients and we're probably still going to have to add water to have the most productive systems that we need. But it can help in reducing the amount that we're using.

O’Keefe: Now, in some ways, the processes and procedures that are needed to institute these regenerative agricultural practices throughout the industry are either new or aren’t widely used. How are we going to encourage crop farmers to start adopting these techniques?

Moody: In the U.S., we have the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS has incentive programs for the adoption of conservation practices. 

And quite honestly, you've probably heard of the IRA fund or the Inflation Reduction Act. There's a significant amount of money that is going to be available over the next six years for practice adoption on the farm, regenerative agricultural practices, or what NRCS would think about as standard conservation practices to improve soil health. There will be a significant use of those dollars to encourage conservation and adoption.

Technical expertise is needed as well to ensure that we're communicating those opportunities to growers.

Rojeski: Just building off of everything you said, it requires a partnership mentality If you take a look at all the different players that are involved, we're asking the farmers to do something different than something that they've known and been very successful with for generations. 

That's going to take time not only to, you know, collect data but also to help people understand and help the community understand, here's what can be done better. 

I think as we go forward, I'd also push for having that longer term view. We're in a position where a lot of the changes that we make today might not necessarily be seen during the next season. It might three to five years for it actually to come to fruition. 

With that partnership mentality, kind of combined with the incentives with that longer term view, I really think we have an opportunity within the poultry business to help really transform how we think about food and agriculture.

O’Keefe: Right now, we have two distinct markets for crops in the United States when we're talking about row crops and grains, like corn and soybean meal. And you might even say we have three markets where we have GMO, we have non-GMO, we have organic as organic poultry production has increased, there have been times where those feedstuffs are hard to find.

When you're talking about partnerships, are we going to have contracts with crop farmers to use certain practices to produce the feed stuffs?

Rojeski: I think that's one option. I think we need to recognize that there's going to be a variety of different tools in terms of changing behaviors, in terms of how we structure those agreements.

Some could take the path of more activity-based outcomes. Here's what I want you to do, and if you do it, here's your incentive. On the flip side, it could be more performance-based. 

I think that the key thing as we go forward is to demonstrate a longer-term horizon to go ahead and see some of the benefits that are in place. To that end, what I'd expect to see is we'd get better tools in terms of collecting the data to understand how things changed and why it's changed for the better. Or if there's a way where we could go ahead and make it better, let's go ahead and make sure we have that information. 

I think the final thing is communicating that progress. Not just what's happening in the farming community, but so that when someone shows up at it grocery store and says, "look, here's what it is, here's what it means and here's what it took to get there. I understand why we might need to go and pay more, given all the work and effort that's been involved and how it helps not only the business, but the world in general."

Adam: That was a really good point that you just made and it's something that I'd really like to pick up on, Andy, because I think it's really, really important that these partnerships extend as far downstream as possible. At the moment, it's very difficult to get price premiums for all of the sustainability improvements that we're making in further upstream in the supply chain. 

We do need to create some sort of supportive business environment where the cost of those improvements is shared equally throughout the value chain. That means talking to retailers who are buying the products. It means engaging consumers on why we need to invest in more sustainable food. It means engaging policymakers on why this is a long term policy issue as well. It's much much broader than just within the feed farming industry.

O’Keefe: I know we've talked about some of the changes in how crops are going to be produced in the future. Some of those might have additional costs, but then some have benefits from an efficiency standpoint, if you are using less fertilizer and less of other inputs. 

I know in crop production today throughout the United States, there are different practices used based on what the local climate is. I guess one of the challenges going forward is there isn't going to be one solution for doing this, it's going to vary locally, right?

Moody: When we look at crop production from my time in the fertilizer space and hanging out with my soil agronomy friends the answer is it depends. That's true of a lot of things in sustainability as well.

But, when you're dealing with cropping systems, it depends on the temperature, it depends on the type of soil, it depends on the pH, it depends on the cultural practices, it depends on the crops that are being grown. You can't grow a cover crop and have minimal disturbance on root crops like potatoes or carrots. I know that's not a feed stuff, but those cropping systems matter. And we can't always grow cover crops in our northern climates and have a successful growing season. 

We have to find ways to optimize those five pillars for regenerative agriculture, as best we can in in the systems that are local to us.

O’Keefe: Precision agriculture is going to have to play a role in this as well, right?

Moody: Precision agriculture is particularly significant in the fertilizer space. Precision agriculture really gives us the ability to dial in specifics to each of the areas of a cropping system are each area within the field. 

From a sustainability perspective, there's a lot of value in intensification, because it brings us efficiencies. We do not want to inhibit productivity at the cost of sustainability. We found that out it with Ukraine this year and the impact that losing productivity or losing access to grains has on the market and our ability to perform and the potential implication that had for sustainability. In a good way, I think this puts more recognition that we have to maintain productivity in the system as a part of sustainability. 

Precision agriculture allows us to do that because it allows us to dial in to the places in the field that are the most profitable and the most productive. Relative to regenerative agriculture, it allows us to dial in the nutrients specific to where we can get the most out of them.

O’Keefe: Even as we move towards net zero feedstuffs, it's still going to be better for the industry to be as efficient as possible in how we use those, how we formulate the rations and how we encourage the bird’s gut to digest as efficiently as possible. 

Faazi, can you help us out with you know, what are some of the technologies that are available today that producers can be employing to improve their feed efficiency?

Adam: Absolutely. To follow up on the conversation about how important the local context is when you're thinking about sustainability efficiency, that goes for nutrition as well. It's really, important for food producers and for farmers to really understand in as much detail as possible what the nutritional profile of these products are because it can vary so much with time and with weather. 

As we start to see more of these regenerative practices grow and become more popular, then this is something that we're really going to need to continue. Engaging in nutritional analysis through infrared spectrometry is going to continue to be really important. It’s something that's widely used today, but it’s going to grow in importance to help understand the amino acid profile, the fatty acid profile and anti-nutritional factors in your ingredients.

With that extra knowledge, you're able to think about what kind of micro-ingredients do I need to really achieve a consistent quality in my feed that's going to give the best benefit to my animals consistently over time. I think that's going to be something that's going to grow in importance, as we see sort of the rise of regenerative agriculture and more companies adopting net zero strategies as well. 

As an example of a specific product that that can really help here, GuanAMINO acetic acid is a precursor to creatine. If you include this in poultry diets, you can really increase the energy metabolism and decrease the dietary energy requirement in the feed. This can reduce costs for poultry farmers, especially if they're seeing the ingredient prices for feed going up. Through our own calculations, we've estimated that in a high feed price environment, this can save about $20 to $50 per ton. So that's one way that we can also increase feed efficiency.

Moody: As we have innovations within the industry and people are bringing products and additives and enzymes and probiotics to the market, I think it's really important that we communicate the scope of the opportunity to reduce the footprint through those products. Because when we engage with our downstream customers, they often look at the feed footprint and they want to put all of the emphasis on regenerative agriculture, which is a very important element. But I think they sometimes miss what it is that the feed industry itself can bring to reducing the footprint. 

I think that we can help them see that by demonstrating the efficiencies you're talking about and how they translate to a reduction in the footprint. Until we show that to them, they're not going to understand it. And they're going to keep putting all of the emphasis on regenerative agriculture, which is absolutely important, but the feed industry brings a lot of other innovation that can help with the sustainability space as well.

Adam:  You're right and I'm happy you brought that up. It's something that's been a key focus for Evonik. For a long time, we've conducted LCAs for nearly our entire product portfolio. And for our key product for amino acids, we actually have externally certified studies showing that for our customers, it can reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and the water use quite considerably. It depends on which species you're looking at and which region you're looking at, but in terms of greenhouse gas, you can save almost up to 20%. I think there is more that we can do to communicate these benefits along the supply chain.

O’Keefe: It really is important to look all the way through and see what the final results are. I saw a presentation earlier today where a gentleman was talking about energy efficiency in the mill itself. And he said that the most important thing you have to look at is if you're reducing your energy usage, but aren't producing a good pellet, it's going to cost you more in feed conversion, which is actually going to reduce sustainability way more than what you're gaining by not having expended the energy at the mill. 

Most integrated poultry companies would say "we always think that way. We look at the impact on the final product." But we tend to get in silos sometimes. We have the goal for our piece of the of the supply chain, but we really have to factor in how that goal affects all the way through the chain.

Rojeski: I think that's a great call out, Terrence. It’s important to make sure all the stakeholders understand not only in terms of how their piece impacts greenhouse gas reduction, but also some of the downstream or upstream implication of some of these choices. You've heard us talk quite a bit about making sure that we have the right data in place with the right folks who can go ahead and make the right decisions, especially as we take a look at the supply chain. Having that full visibility and understanding and in that partnership mentality to ensure that we're collectively doing the right things for the business and for the environment is going to be critical going forward.

O’Keefe: We have spent a lot of time talking about feed and feed stuff. Andy, what are some of the other aspects of the supply chain that Pilgrim’s has focused on?

Rojeski: I think we've done a variety of different things associated with our processing locations. Between our sustainability-linked bond and some of the projects that we're investing in, we've undertaken a variety of assessments of our facilities to understand how we can operate our equipment better. We've also worked closely with our team members to go ahead and adjust behaviors, including simple things in terms of making sure the settings on the equipment are right and making sure that folks are properly trained in terms of operating some of the equipment.

Going forward, some of the things that we're going to focus on is where's the largest source of emissions through what's happening on the farm. You'll see us think about that feed component working closely with our suppliers, as well as with our chicken growers working with them, helping them identify potential ways to go ahead and becoming even more effective and efficient.

O’Keefe: What role do you think carbon credits are going to play in net zero schemes?

Rojeski: As I think about carbon credits, its first it acts as a signal. What it really represents is that you're collecting data and you're changing behaviors. There's value in that because it provides insight in terms of where to go forward and with that dollar amount, folks can go ahead and start transitioning their investments to things that are the most efficient and effective. 

In some respects, it's very critical to make sure that we're spending money in the right places and in the right ways that are generating the proper returns. I think the other thing where it comes up is around capital allocation. I think every single company faces a world where they don't have unlimited resources and you need to go ahead and make choices in terms of where and how to spend. By using that carbon credit, you're going to have some better visibility about where and how you should invest going forward.

O’Keefe: How important do we think transportation and local sourcing are to achieving net zero?

Adam: I think it is more important than it suggests just by looking at the numbers. If you look at LCAs of the supply chain, it is overwhelmingly from feed production and the transportation aspect is actually not so high. But if you think of it more holistically, I think this is something that is really important. 

Especially over the past year or so, we've all seen how key supply security is for maintaining normal business operations. If you have a supplier that is local to your region and reliable that that makes a big difference. If you don't have that, then it can cause a lot of issues.

If we're talking specifically in the feed industry and you can't access a specific additive that you need for your formulations, then you need to reformulate or you have a problem. This can cause a lot of unforeseen business expenses and, in the end, it can be quite detrimental to sustainability programs when you have to deal with a crisis situation that comes from supply security. 

If companies are able to secure some sort of security of supply, that that really helps in the long run with sustainability even if it's not necessarily reflected in the LCA of poultry production.

Rojeski: I think as we take a look at local sourcing, having that end-to-end view will provide better visibility in recognizing that there might be certain regions or certain parts of the country that are better at doing some things than others. Having that end-to-end view and making sure that we have kind of clarity about where it's coming from and who is involved I think is what's going to provide better direction about the value of local sourcing and the impact it can have on the environment. 

O’Keefe: Surveys of consumers in the U.S. and in Europe suggest that there's a majority of consumers are really interested in sustainability. Now, some poultry companies have been very successful with charging more for no-antibiotics-ever (NAE), organic and other feeding schemes. Do we think that sometime between now and 2040 or 2050, there will be net zero branding on products and that poultry companies will be able to get a little more for those products?

Moody: Well, I know one already in existence today. Kipster just opened their new farm right in the Midwest and they're producing net zero eggs that they're selling at Kroger. Whether they're getting a premium for them or not, I can't say, but Kipster is on the path to doing that. MPS Egg Farms, as well, is working to be able to document a lower carbon footprint feed that is feedstuff production, so it's absolutely happening. I think the challenge or the question is whether it's a sustainable, viable market for that premium.

Adam: We're seeing this in Germany as well. Where I'm based, there are lots of food products that you can get that have a low carbon label or climate friendly label or something like that. At least in Germany from what I've seen it tends to be packaged foods with a recognizable consumer brand who are able to use this kind of messaging on their products to attract a certain segment of consumers with a price premium. 

It'll be interesting to see how that develops for the livestock industry. I I'm guessing that it will go sort of the same way where you see products with a recognizable brand that are specifically trying to appeal to this part of the market.

Rojeski: I think one thing to consider is as we go forward especially as folks are becoming more aware and more familiar with net zero and some of these climate commitments that we’re thoughtful in terms of how we communicate. We don't want to put ourselves in a position where some folks get turned off by the concept because they feel that there’s a difference between here's what you said and here's what you really did. 

I think the other thing to consider as we move forward together is around this concept that, given all the change and the desire to transform that food and ag industry, there's part of me that says, in some respects, you could argue it’s going to be table stakes. As we go forward and think about what's on the shelf, you think about the level of change that's involved, not just in the poultry business, but also with our grower partners and the folks on the farm. 

We're talking about a total transformation of the business. To me, that provides some benefits. It might not necessarily translate into a significant premium. There's probably going to be some, but I think the big call out is that you can go ahead and you can start driving scale throughout the system. And when you drive scale throughout that system, I think it can provide better value. And when you do that, you have a chance to go ahead and truly transform the food and ag business.

O’Keefe: If there's a poultry company out there that hasn't started down the journey of exploring net zero and what it's going to mean for their operations, what recommendation would you give them on? Where do they start? Where do they go for information?

Rojeski: I think that partnership mentality is going to be critical. You're dealing with a lot of different players that are a lot of different sizes, right? They have a long history of working together and that requires an advanced mindset in terms of how we can do this together. The push that I would have is think about it as an ecosystem. We're all in this together. We all play critical roles and we need to move together to fully drive change.

I think the second callout that I have is don't let perfect be the enemy of good. You are in a position where it's still new. It's new for everybody and people are still learning. There's a tendency to say before I move, I want to get it perfect. 

The final piece, with respect to incentives, is to recognize not only incentives throughout that supply chain of all the different partners but also to recognize the role that the government can play. We talked about a little bit earlier about the Inflation Reduction Act. If we're talking about the transformation of the food supply system, it's going to cost some dollars. 

Moody: Within iFEEDER, we've been focused on research and education and resources available for the industry and the sustainability space relative to the feed side of the poultry integrator. We just launched our animal food industry sustainability toolkit. It's a nice starting place for folks that are interested in learning or starting the journey.

O’Keefe: Here in the U.S., we have the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs (US-RSPE). That's one of the things where companies aren't going to have to do this all on their own. Companies are working together, it's a shared journey. As you pointed out, Andy, at some point, this will be table stakes where you don't have the option of not trying to move forward. 

I’d like to ask each of you what do you think is the most important thing the poultry industry needs to do today to accelerate progress towards net zero? 

Rojeski: It’s so important to engage with your partners throughout the supply chain, recognizing the critical role that the farmer plays within your mission scope, and working together and working closely with them to develop a system to become even that much more efficient and effective.

The other part is that we're going to learn some things. Make sure that you have some different systems in place where you can track what we did this year, what we learned this year and what I'm going to do different next year. 

The final component is just recognizing that within the poultry industry there's a lot of great activity. I think there's a lot of success stories. The more we can go ahead and communicate that in terms of some of the progress that we've made as an industry, I think it'll further demonstrate not just within the poultry business, but other aspects of the business – that this can be done.

Adam: I can only agree with that, I really do think that partnering along the value chain is the most important thing we can do to really accelerate progress. The animal nutrition industry can really do a lot more to communicate the real benefits that our products can bring. We can do better at communicating this to a wide range of audiences not just in the feed industry and not just in the farming industry but beyond to ensure we reach that full value of the supply chain,

Moody: I would argue the challenge that we have is that because feedstuff is 60% of the footprint of poultry production, then people tend to place the weight of the solution on feed. But we don't control what the commodity crop producer does and we also don't control what the market or the poultry grower does relative to using any innovation or solution that we bring forward.

Because of that, in order for us to have market drivers or market signals in the feed industry and for us to continue to bring innovations and solutions to the market, we need signals that those are needed and accepted and desired. Similarly, we need the partnerships from the commodity crop producers that they are taking those steps toward regenerative agriculture. We can't responsibly source an ingredient if there's not a source for us to obtain that lower footprint ingredient.

O’Keefe: One thing that I've learned from talking to you and talking to others as I prepared for this discussion is that what I always have to remember and I think people in the industry have to remember is that some of these things will cost, but other things will improve efficiency. 

Really, that's what the industry has been good at all along is being efficient and striving to be more efficient tomorrow through continuous improvement. With net zero programs, we're adding another thing that we're measuring, but it isn't going to replace the need for us to be economically viable and continue to be efficient that way.

Rodeski: As you think about sustainability and profitability, people will ask the question about how do they relate? From our vantage point, they reinforce one another. Part of running a business is understanding how to do more with less. If you think about everything we're talking about whether it's regenerative ag or working with our chicken growers or what happens at the plant that’s really what it's about.

We're focused on how can we be more efficient through our farming practices or working with our growers in terms of what they do on the farm or in the plant.

Moody: In the Animal Ag Sustainability Summit this morning at IPPE, we had Under Secretary Robert Bonnie from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) speaking. One of the things that stuck with me that he said was as we engage with our producers and our crop farmers in the sustainability space or on climate challenges, we have to change the conversation so that they don't feel like it's something we're doing to them, but something that we're doing with them. 

It's about achieving resiliency and achieving productivity. For me, that's a great way to think about how we engage those that aspect of the industry and the steps that we need to support the work we're doing.

Adam: Sustainability isn't a nice to have anymore, it's essential. If you look at the annual reporting of a lot of listed companies in our sector, you'll see that most of them recognize climate change and resource depletion as material risks to their business. This is something that we have to manage for the continued survival of the agriculture industry for our food supply, we don't really have much choice.

O’Keefe: I'd like to ask each of our panelists for any final thoughts before we wrap up today?

Rojeski: I appreciate the opportunity to connect with you and with my colleagues. As I think about the opportunity on our journey towards net zero, the biggest thing that really stands out on my mind is to think big but start smart. 

There's a lot of different players involved, recognize that the farming community plays a huge role and we need to develop some different tools to go out and collect the data so we can make informed decisions about how to go forward. If we go ahead, and we use data to go ahead and drive our decisions, if we maintain that partnership mentality, and we maintain our focus in terms of making things happen, I think we can position ourselves really to go ahead and transform the food and ag business.

Adam: From our perspective at Evonik Nutrition it's pretty clear that we're facing a pretty incredible challenge in the food industry. Sustainability is at the heart of our business strategy. It drives our portfolio decisions. It's really great to be able to talk to our partners in the supply chain who are working towards the same goal. 

Moody: This is a really important conversation and topic for the industry to be having. My closing thought is that I think the challenge with sustainability is that there are so many definitions, it's really hard to grasp. There are some folks that will come kicking and screaming and being dragged into the sustainability space. 

If you can flip the switch in your head and start thinking about sustainability as an opportunity, as a reduced business risk and as a value proposition that you can create for your company, that's the space that we all need to get to for sustainability.

O’Keefe: Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts. I know I've learned a lot today and this has certainly given me a lot to think about as we go forward with working towards net zero. I'd like to thank all of you for joining us and watching our video and hope to see you soon.

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