Committed to our Natural Resources
Jim Perdue, Chairman of Perdue Farms, explains the steps we are taking to protect the natural resources where we live, work and play.
You could say our environmental responsibility started with the understanding of reuse and recycle, a lesson Frank Perdue learned from his father and founder of Perdue Farms Arthur Perdue. Arthur Perdue was known for saving the leather from his old shoes to make hinges for chicken house doors. So, reusing and recycling are nothing new for Perdue! That understanding of the importance of being frugal and maximizing the available life of all resources has evolved into one of our company’s core values: stewardship.
For us, stewardship is protecting the environment, ensuring the well-being of our associates, providing for the welfare of the animals in our care, living up to our civic responsibilities and generating earnings for the future of our company. It’s the real driver for our efforts. Through our environmental stewardship scorecard, we have established aggressive goals for reductions in greenhouses gases, water use and solid waste by 2023 and are committed to reporting our progress.
Here are some of our stewardship successes that move us toward fulfilling our Vision: “To be the most trusted name in food and agriculture” as we navigate into our second century.
We will continue to work toward, and report progress on, our environmental goals. Because, we truly believe in responsible food and agriculture.
In 2018, we established aggressive five-year goals for reductions in greenhouse gases, water use and solid waste by 2023.
Compared with our 2015 baseline, we have:
Select a region to learn more about projects and partnerships across some of our communities.
"For nearly 12 years, Perdue Farms and its dedicated volunteers have rolled up their sleeves and put in countless hours to support the Oyster Recovery Partnership and a healthier Chesapeake Bay. Their team has contributed to a successful Marylanders Grow Oysters program on the Eastern Shore by producing thousands of shell bags for important local oyster restoration projects. We are grateful for their ongoing efforts to ensure a healthy future for our beloved Bay."
Ward Slacum, ORP Executive Director
“We believe the (20-year) partnership between Perdue and BDC offers a large-scale opportunity to create a truly consistent source of clean, renewable natural gas in a sustainable way that will benefit the industry and the environment for years to come.”
Bioenergy DevCo Founder and CEO
“Perdue has long been an industry leader in responsible food and agriculture, and its commitment to consider the environment in every business decision is a stance we heartily embrace.”
Erik Foley, Director of the Penn State University’s Smeal Center for the Business of Sustainability
We recognize that our consumers, customers and communities expect us to be responsible stewards of our shared natural resources. We also recognize that producing more with less is not the full measure of sustainability, and that we need to take a holistic approach that overlaps with our commitments to food safety and quality, animal welfare, associate well-being, consumer preferences, community concerns and supporting family farms.
In pursuit of our Vision to be the most trusted name in food and agriculture products, we know we have to go beyond compliance to actively address the full range of environmental stewardship challenges related to animal agriculture and food production. We know that environmental stewardship includes partnering with and supporting efforts and organizations that bring stakeholders together to protect our natural resources.
We count stewardship among our core company values and incorporate environmental sustainability into our company goals, which the senior leadership team and board approve.
As part of each Perdue facility’s Environmental Sustainability Scorecard, each location is required to undertake an annual Facility Sustainability Project. The projects must show a reduction in emissions, wastewater, natural resources consumption or solid waste.
The projects, led by “Green Teams,” engage both hourly and salaried associates in sustainability efforts and further instill environmental stewardship and our value of teamwork in the workplace culture.
Here are some of our recent facility sustainability project successes:
As part of a commitment to environmental stewardship, Perdue Farms became the first poultry company in the United States to install friendly ground cover at its company solar field installation.
The pollinator-friendly ground cover consists of a variety of flowering plants that provide food in the form of nectar and pollen in each growing season. It contains a mixture of plants that bloom from early spring to late fall so that flowers will be available when pollinators are active. The species were selected to be low-growing to keep from shading the panels, as well as deep-rooted to be resilient to periods of intense sun and rain. In total, more than 250,000 native and pollinator-friendly plants are growing on the solar array adjacent to Perdue Farms’ headquarters in Salisbury, MD.
Family farmers are often leaders in environmental stewardship. In that spirit, Niman Ranch recognized the Nuessmeier Family Farm of LeSueur, Minnesota as the first recipients of their Sustainable Hog Farmer of the Year Award.
The inaugural recipients of the Niman Ranch Sustainable Hog Farmer of the Year honor are celebrated for their decades of efforts to preserve their farmland and conserve natural resources. Nineteen-year Niman Ranch partners, brothers Tim and Tom Nuessmeier along with their family, are fifth-generation farmers. The Nuessmeiers raise pigs outdoors, grow organic crops using sustainable practices, including crop rotation and buffer strips and have dedicated pollinator habitat among many other environmentally conscious practices on their diversified farm. The family farm was recognized as a Century Farm in 1975 and is going on 150 years in operation.
Tim and Tom inherited their passion for preserving the natural world from their parents, who always incorporated diversified, traditional farming practices on the family farm. In the 1990s, they installed terraces to reduce erosion on their farmland and have continued the sustainability journey through today, regularly incorporating new sustainable farming practices season after season. “We have always believed that wild nature—birds, insects, mammals—should have a place to coexist on a working farm,” Tim explained of their family’s commitment to biodiversity. The family has land in the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program where they have seen robust pollinator life and biodiversity take hold. They have dubbed the area a “songbird commons” due to the many ground-nesting native songbirds that live among the native plants.
Part of Panorama Organic’s 360-Degree Promise® is the belief that precious rangelands must be protected and preserved for future generations. All Panorama ranchers are engaged in active conservation efforts, and many of them have been recognized locally and nationally for rangeland stewardship.
Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats’ 34 independent family ranchers span eight states and nearly one million acres of USDA Certified Organic grasslands in California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado and Wisconsin. Their cattle are raised on pastures that feature a cow’s favorite foods— natural grasses, legumes and range forage.
Since its beginning 20 years ago, Panorama has been committed to conserving and restoring rangeland. Grazing cattle on well-managed pastures mimics the action of the original inhabitants of the grassland ecosystem– the bison, elk, and other large ungulates that trampled, fertilized, and fed on a diverse set of perennial plants. Those plants and their long roots work in a cycle with the complex soil biome, the fungi and bacteria that form a sink for carbon, methane and other greenhouse gases. Some recent studies have shown that grass-fed cattle can actually neutralize more greenhouse gases than they emit, making them not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative.
In addition to sequestering carbon, healthy soils filter water and recharge aquifers by allowing rainfall to soak into the ground, rather than running off and polluting surface water with mud and other debris, a bonus especially in the drought-prone West where every drop of water is critical for life.
Of course, keeping grasslands healthy requires a good management plan so that cattle are a productive part of the ecosystem. Panorama’s ranchers use various methods of moving their herds around their pastures to benefit not only the cattle, but the rangeland as well. Whether it’s mob grazing, adaptive pasture management or other forms of herd handling, the goal is always to raise healthy cattle and maintain thriving pastures that together support biodiversity and a flourishing ecosystem.
Panorama Organic’s regenerative agriculture practices are evolving as a model for the nation to keep birds singing, streams flowing and climate change at bay.
The farmers who raise our poultry retain ownership of their litter because it is a resource that has value to them. For farmers whose crops need the nutrients in poultry litter, it can offset the costs of chemical fertilizers while improving soil quality. For those who cannot or do not want to use their litter, it is an agricultural commodity that can be sold to generate additional farm income or bartered.
Since poultry houses are enclosed and there is no liquid waste, there is no manure discharge from poultry houses. The small amount of manure deposited outside the house on free-range farms helps to support the vegetation in the pasture area.
We require all of our poultry farmers to have a nutrient management plan for the poultry operation. In addition, state regulations, such as the Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) in Maryland, further regulate the movement and placement of poultry litter and fertilizers. Litter, like any other fertilizer, is used by farmers in accordance with nutrient management plans that match fertilizer application to the needs of each crop, minimizing the potential for nutrient runoff.
While poultry farmers are responsible for making sure litter from their farms goes to an approved use, crop farming and poultry production are two separate activities.