RESOURCE GUIDE ON SUSTAINABLE ANIMAL FEED

SCOPE

The global demand for animal protein products is increasing rapidly due to population growth, rising income, and changes in diets,[1] resulting in an increased demand for animal feed. While animal feed is an essential input to the animal protein industry, it also has a significant impact on the environment, including air, land, soil, water, and biodiversity. For instance, life cycle assessment (LCA) studies have estimated that feed production accounts for 70% of the carbon footprint of animal products.[2] Thus, meeting future demand for protein products in a sustainable way will require a wide range of strategies to tackle the environmental impact of feed production.

Since August 2019, The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) has been conducting the Feeding our Food Discussion Group with stakeholders to explore and share resources on feed sustainability. The information gathered through this discussion group provided initial material for TSC to develop this guide. The purpose of TSC’s Resource Guide on Sustainable Animal Feed is to provide resources and information specific to feed sustainability to help our members and community create, meet, and exceed their own feed sustainability goals. This resource guide is intended to support TSC members, sustainability professionals, processors, brands, and retailers interested in learning more about sustainable animal feed or seeking to improve their operations.

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, “Livestock and the environment,” accessed September 15, 2020, http://www.fao.org/livestock-environment/en/

[2] Alessandra Nardina Trícia Rigo Monteiro, and Jean-Yves Dourmad. “Life cycle assessment of feed ingredients.” SUMINAPP – Sustainable Usage of trace Minerals for Animal Production Programs (2018). DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.26695.75682.

ABOUT

Last Updated Sept 2021

The scope of TSC’s Resource Guide on Sustainable Animal Feed is to centralize relevant resources and information related to feed sustainability globally – with a focus on the U.S. This resource guide is organized in five chapters: leading organizations engaged in feed sustainability efforts, useful tools, reports and case study spotlights, research, and companies’ feed sustainability initiatives. Even though this Resource Guide on Sustainable Animal Feed is not intended to be an exhaustive list, it will be updated and expanded as new resources become available.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank all of the participants in the Feeding our Food Discussion Group who provided useful feedback and ideas to incorporate into this resource guide.

ORGANIZATIONS

The feed sector benefits from several industry organizations, multi-stakeholder partnerships, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with recognized work at global and regional levels on sustainable feed.

Industry Organizations with Feed Sustainability Initiatives or Resources

American Feed Industry Association

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) represents the total feed industry, as a key segment of the food chain, and member companies’ interests.[1] AFIA is engaged in a four-part sustainability initiative to reduce animal agriculture’s carbon footprint in the U.S. and to develop tools and resources to help the feed industry improve its practices globally.  AFIA’s feed sustainability work focuses on four key areas:

  • optimizing the use of energy and natural resources.
  • enhancing the precision of animal nutrition programs through new, efficient, and productive technologies.
  • providing consumers and policymakers with a better understanding and appreciation of U.S. food production system.
  • supporting our local communities.

AFIA also partners with other organizations within the agricultural community to support research efforts. These research efforts provide data that the animal food industry needs to achieve its sustainability initiatives and to inform policymakers and the public. AFIA is also the founder of the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER) and one of the founders of the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI).

[1] “About AFIA,” American Feed Industry Association, accessed September 15, 2020, https://www.afia.org/about-afia/mission-vision-values/

European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation

European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) represents the European compound feed industry at the level of the European Institutions. FEFAC consists of 25 national associations in 24 EU Member States, as well as associations in Switzerland, Turkey, Norway, Serbia, and Russia. The FEFAC has projects related to feed safety, feed quality, market access and innovation, and sustainability. In 2015, the FEFAC published the Soy Sourcing Guidelines, which are a list of 59 ethical, social, and environmental topics that are considered important for responsible soy production. The Soy Sourcing Guidelines also include a number of verification requirements for feed material.[1] In addition, the FEFAC has contributed to different projects on feed sustainability, such as the PEFCR Feed for Food-Producing Animals and the GFLI.[2] On September 25, 2020, FEFAC launched its Feed Sustainability Charter 2030 in response to the EU Green Deal Objectives affecting EU feed and livestock production. The Charter includes five ambitions to contribute to more sustainable livestock and aquaculture production:

  • Contribute To Climate-Neutral Livestock & Aquaculture Production Through Feed
  • Foster Sustainable Food Systems Through Increased Resource & Nutrient Efficiency
  • Promote Responsible Sourcing Practices
  • Contribute to Improving Farm Animal Health & Welfare
  • Enhance the Socio-Economic Environment and Resilience of the Livestock & Aquaculture Sectors

The Charter contains concrete feed sector actions at EU and national level featuring animal nutrition solutions that can help increase the sustainability of livestock farming operations. They are aimed to provide meaningful answers to growing market expectations as well as to increased societal demands at EU and global level.

[1] https://fefac.eu/home/fefac-feed-sustainability-charter-2030/

[2] “Sustainability,” FEFAC, accessed September 15, 2020, https://fefac.eu/priorities/sustainability/

FeedLatina

Feedlatina is an association that brings together companies and entities representing the animal feed sector in Latin America and the Caribbean. Feedlatina operates based in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has the support of entities such as FAO, IICA, IFIF, OIE, ALA, ABPA, CLANA, among others. Current member countries include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is a voluntary organization that works with leaders from across the dairy value chain to align on pre-competitive priorities and drive progress with the goal of advancing a shared social responsibility platform. The Innovation Center developed the U.S Dairy Stewardship Commitment (Stewardship Commitment) to support dairy farmers, cooperatives, and processors who voluntarily choose to work across the industry to advance sustainability leadership and report progress. The Stewardship Commitment provides science-based measures to track, measure and communicate sustainability progress – at the farm, cooperative and processor level, and from individual company to aggregate national reporting.[1] One of the priority areas of the Stewardship Commitment is feed impact, which is assessed through two indicators:

  • Field to Market’s indicators for water, soil, land use and biodiversity.
  • Innovation Center’s indicators for greenhouse gas (GHG) and energy intensity of feed production, as measured by U.S. dairy’s Comprehensive LCA for U.S. Milk.

In April 2020, the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy set new environmental stewardship goals for the U.S. dairy industry that include manure/nutrient management, soil health and water quality. The 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals are: Become carbon neutral or better; Optimize water use while maximizing recycling; and Improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients.[2]  This organization has tools listed in the Tools section of this document

[1] “The U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment,” Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, accessed September 15, 2020, http://commitment.usdairy.com/

[2] National Milk Producers Federation. “U.S. Dairy Innovation Center sets 2050 Goals.” Regulatory Register 22, no. 2 (Summer 2020). https://www.nmpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/FINAL-Regulatory-Register-Summer-2020.pdf

National Pork Board

The U.S. pork industry has had a 100 percent legislative checkoff program since 1986. Congress created the Pork Checkoff as part of The Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985. Pork producers had requested the legislation so they could take advantage of having all producers and importers participate in a checkoff program designed to strengthen the position of pork in the marketplace. The National Pork Board executes specific programs in the areas of promotion, research and education. No funds may be used for lobbying or to influence government policy.  This organization has tools listed in the Tools section of this document.

Sindirações

Sindirações (Animal Feed Industry of Brazil) consists of 140 members representing approximately 90% of the national market for animal feed in Brazil. Sindirações is leading Brazil’s animal feed sector by participating in the development of public policies, promoting dialogue, and supporting the sustainable development of the animal feed industry. Sindirações has been a member of the GFLI since July 2020.

Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships with Feed Sustainability Initiatives or Resources

Consumer Goods Forum-Forest Positive Coalition of Action


The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) represents the total feed industry, as a key segment of the food chain, and member companies’ interests.[1] AFIA is engaged in a four-part sustainability initiative to reduce animal agriculture’s carbon footprint in the U.S. and to develop tools and resources to help the feed industry improve its practices globally.  AFIA’s feed sustainability work focuses on four key areas:

  • optimizing the use of energy and natural resources.
  • enhancing the precision of animal nutrition programs through new, efficient, and productive technologies.
  • providing consumers and policymakers with a better understanding and appreciation of U.S. food production system.
  • supporting our local communities.

AFIA also partners with other organizations within the agricultural community to support research efforts. These research efforts provide data that the animal food industry needs to achieve its sustainability initiatives and to inform policymakers and the public. AFIA is also the founder of the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER) and one of the founders of the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI).

[1] “About AFIA,” American Feed Industry Association, accessed September 15, 2020, https://www.afia.org/about-afia/mission-vision-values/

Cool Farm Alliance


The Cool Farm Alliance was born out of a Sustainable Food Lab project in 2010 to motivate and measure the potential for agriculture supply chains to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, with a focus on discovering actions that are practical and pragmatic at the farm level.  As a pre-competitive industry collaboration created to address a shared need for tools and metrics that are simple to use and motivate change while being scientifically robust, the Cool Farm Tool falls squarely into the Sustainable Food Lab’s change methods. Since its inception in 2008, the Sustainable Food Lab has shepherded the development and use of the Cool Farm Tool and its evolution from a spreadsheet-based single metric change project to a stand-alone industry platform and multi-metric, web-based tool. The Sustainable Food Lab continues to manage the Cool Farm Alliance working with members and partners to build continuous improvement into the way of doing business and using measurement to move agricultural production more towards increasingly more sustainable practices. This organization has tools listed in the Tools section of this document.

Field to Market



Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture brings together a diverse group of grower organizations; agribusinesses; food, beverage, restaurant and retail companies; conservation groups; universities and public sector partners to focus on defining, measuring and advancing the sustainability of food, fiber, feed and fuel production. With nearly 150 member organizations, Field to Market provides unparalleled opportunities for multi-stakeholder collaboration through its Continuous Improvement Accelerator, an innovative framework of locally-led, member-driven conservation solutions backed by the transparency of a process-based standard. Underpinned by the industry’s most widely accepted sustainability measurement framework, the Accelerator enables Field to Market members to benchmark continuous improvement through the Fieldprint Platform and drive continuous improvement by supporting growers in the adoption of new technology and practices. Through the Accelerator, Field to Market partners with the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to support dairy producers in eight states improve the sustainability of corn silage and alfalfa feed. Field to Market also collaborates closely with the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef by convening a joint feed task force to partner with organizations across the beef value chain in driving sustainable outcomes for feed. This organization has tools listed in the Tools section of this document.

Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock


The Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL) is a partnership of livestock sector stakeholders supported by the FAO and committed to the sustainable development of the sector. The Agenda addresses sustainable livestock and covers aspects related to livelihoods, economic and social impacts, public health, animal health and welfare, environmental impacts, biodiversity, and land use.[1] One of the sustainability domains of the Global Agenda is climate and natural resource use, which focuses on creating resilience to climate change in livestock by improving water management and breeding for drought resistance, as well as by using feeds and breeds that produce fewer emissions.[2]

The GASL has also developed the Efficiency Matrix (EM) framework to quantify the impact of specific interventions or production system changes on natural resource use efficiency, including five areas of analysis: forage and grain production, animal feeding, livestock performance, animal health, manure management system.

It aims to describe the impact of production system changes, and so act as a decision-making advisory tool. Because livestock production systems are very diverse, phase one of the EM’s development provided a broad umbrella of assessment indicators that can be applied to different environments, geographies, and scales of farming.[3]

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Transforming the livestock sector through the Sustainable Development Goals (Rome: FAO, 2018), http://www.fao.org/3/CA1201EN/ca1201en.pdf

[2] Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, Progress Report (GASL, 2019), http://www.livestockdialogue.org/fileadmin/templates/res_livestock/docs/Progress_Report/REPORT_GASL_2020.pdf

[3] Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock, ACTION NETWORK 1 – Closing the Efficiency Gap, http://www.livestockdialogue.org/fileadmin/templates/res_livestock/docs/Area_1/Closing_the_Efficiency_gaps.pdf

Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef



The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) mission is to advance, support, and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the global beef value chain through leadership, science, and multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. The GRSB envisions a world where beef is a trusted part of a thriving food system in which the beef value chain is environmentally sound, socially responsible, and economically viable.[1]

[1] “Home,” Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.grsbeef.org/

The Feed Safety Multi-Stakeholder Partnership



The Feed Safety Multi-Stakeholder Partnership is an FAO-led Partnership for Capacity Development for Feed Safety, with the objective to strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders along the feed and food value chain to establish a safe and sustainable feed and food value chain. The partnership involves intergovernmental organizations, governments, academia, farmers, producers, the private sector, and civil society. Even though the focus of the Partnership is to outline best practices for preventing hazards in feed, it also creates and shares scientific knowledge and data on the impact of feed safety on sustainable feed and food production, and on novel and unconventional feed sources and production processes (e.g. bio-products, insects, and food waste).[1]

[1] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Feed Safety Multi-Stakeholder Partnership (Rome: FAO, 2016), http://www.fao.org/3/a-br874e.pdf

The Round Table on Responsible Soy


The Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) promotes the growth of production, trade, and use of responsible soy. It works through cooperation with those in, and related to, the soy value chain, from production to consumption.[1] Members of the RTRS can purchase credits for soybean meal used to feed animals in their supply chain in global regions that may source from high-risk areas.

[1] “About RTRS,” Round Table on Responsible Soy,” accessed October 26, 2020, https://responsiblesoy.org/sobre-la-rtrs?lang=en#que-es

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) an organization designed, in part, to address the growing concerns about the negative environmental impacts of palm oil. RSPO also works with palm oil industry stakeholders to develop global standards to define and certify sustainable palm oil. RSPO is currently the largest multi-stakeholder organization focused on sustainability within the palm oil sector and the only global sustainability standard in the edible oil sector.[1]

[1] Cattau, Megan E., Miriam E. Marlier, and Ruth DeFries, “Effectiveness of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for reducing fires on oil palm concessions in Indonesia from 2012 to 2015,” Environmental Research Letters 11.10 (2016): 105007.

The SAI Platform

The SAI Platform gathers and develops knowledge on sustainable agriculture, and shares with all interested parties to reach common understanding of the concept and of its long-term implications. Specifically related to feed sustainability, the SAI’s Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP) builds on the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) and its eleven criteria identified as relevant to the dairy sector globally to tackle sustainability issues, including GHG emissions, soil, and water use. In addition, the SDP requires all participating processors to address the prevention of deforestation. [1] This organization has tools listed in the Tools section of this document.

[1] “Our Value,” The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, accessed September 03, 2020, https://saiplatform.org/our-value/what-we-do/#Working_Groups_and_Committees

The Sustainability Consortium


(TSC) is a global non-profit organization transforming the consumer goods industry to deliver more sustainable consumer products. TSC convenes diverse stakeholders to work collaboratively to build science-based decision tools and solutions that address sustainability issues that are materially important throughout a product’s supply chain and lifecycle. TSC members and partners include manufacturers, retailers, suppliers, service providers, NGOs, civil society organizations, governmental agencies and academics. TSC also offers a portfolio of services to help drive effective improvement and implementation.  TSC tools are used to assess year over year product category sustainability performance shared from consumer goods companies with retailers in TSC’s THESIS platform.  Within these annual assessments, TSC’s Key Performance Indicators for feed sustainability issues are provided for beef, chicken, dairy, eggs, farmed fish, farmed shellfish, pork, and turkey. The KPI’s enable retailers and consumer goods companies to track the sustainability performance on feed production and use over time.[1]  This organization has tools listed in the Tools section of this document.

[1] “Why Product Sustainability” The Sustainability Consortium, accessed October 30, 2020, https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/product-sustainability/

The UNFAO Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance



The UNFAO Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) Partnership is a multi-stakeholder initiative that is committed to improving the environmental performance of livestock supply chains, whilst ensuring its economic and social viability. The LEAP develops comprehensive guidance and methodology for understanding the environmental performance of livestock supply chains, in order to shape evidence-based policy measures and business strategies.[1] The LEAP Partnership developed a methodology to introduce a harmonized international approach to the life cycle assessment of the environmental performance of animal feed and livestock supply chains in a manner that takes account of the specificity of the various production systems involved.[2]These LEAP guidelines cover the following environmental impact categories: climate change, fossil energy use, acidification, eutrophication and land use.

[1] “The Partnership,” Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP), accessed September 14, 2020, http://www.fao.org/partnerships/leap/overview/the-partnership/en/

[2] Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Environmental performance of animal feeds supply chains: Guidelines for assessment (Rome: FAO, 2016), http://www.fao.org/3/a-i6433e.pdf

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef



The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) is a multi-stakeholder initiative developed to advance, support, and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability of the U.S. beef value chain.[1] In May 2019, the USRSB launched the U.S. Beef Industry Sustainability Framework to identify opportunities for continuous improvement in all types of operations and companies throughout the beef industry. The high priority indicators of the framework are animal health and well-being, efficiency and yield, water resources, land resources, air and greenhouse gas emissions, and employee safety and well-being. Specifically related to feed, the framework will assess water used for feed production through a partnership between the USRSB and Field to Market.

Finally, the USRSB also advances beef sustainability through project support. Projects related to feed that were officially supported by the USRSB in 2019 included:

  • Ducks Unlimited’s Cover Crop and Livestock Integration Project (CCLIP): This project incentivizes farmers based in the Prairie Pothole Region of the Dakotas to adopt cover crops and other soil health practices. This includes working with farmers to integrate livestock into cropping systems to improve soil composition, nutrient/water cycling, and farm economics. Supporting viable grazing opportunities in this landscape helps protect remaining grasslands that provide vital wildlife habitat from being converted.
  • American Farmland Trust Sustainable Grazing Project: Through its Sustainable Grazing Project, American Farmland Trust works closely with several pilot producers in Virginia to assist with the adoption of regenerative grazing practices to protect natural resources while improving profitability for producers.

[1] “About,” U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed September 14, 2020, https://www.usrsb.org/about

The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs


The U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs (US-RSPE) is an initiative developed to advance, support, and communicate continuous improvement in sustainability through leadership, innovation, multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration. The environmental focal point of the US-RSPE includes air quality, by-products, energy use, GHG emissions, land use, nutrient management, solid waste, water quality, and water use. The environmental impact of feed is also being considered in its framework.[1]

[1] “U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs,” US-RSPE, accessed October 20, 2020, https://www.us-rspe.org/

NGOs with Feed Sustainability Initiatives or Resources

The Aquaculture Stewardship Council


The Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) is an independent, international non-profit organization founded in 2009 by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and IDH (The Sustainable Trade Initiative) to manage the global standards for responsible aquaculture.[1] The ASC is developing a feed standard to define requirements for both responsible factory practices and for responsible feed ingredients for the three main ingredient groups used in aqua feed: marine ingredients, terrestrial plant ingredients and terrestrial animal ingredients. The global ASC Feed Standard will:

  • provide a tool to help recognize and reward responsible aquaculture feed and will be applicable to all ASC farm standards. optimizing the use of energy and natural resources.
  • provide an additional mechanism for producers and retailers to minimize and mitigate environmental and social impacts throughout their supply chain.
  • provide more traceability and transparency to their stakeholders.

The goal of ASC’s Feed Standard will be to minimize the key negative environmental and social impacts of the production of the main feed ingredients for aquaculture. This standard is set to be implemented in the existing certification scheme. The new ASC Feed Standard is set to launch in 2020.[2]

[1] “About the ASC,” Aquaculture Stewardship Council, accessed September 28, 2020, https://www.asc-aqua.org/what-we-do/about-us/about-the-asc/

[2] “Feed,” Aquaculture Stewardship Council, accessed September 28, 2020, https://www.asc-aqua.org/what-we-do/our-standards/new-standards-and-reviews/new-farm-standards/new-feed/

FAIRR


Established by the Jeremy Coller Foundation, the FAIRR Initiative is a private foundation that raises awareness of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities caused by intensive animal production. In 2019, FAIRR launched the Global Investor Engagement on Meat Sourcing to encourage the 6 largest fast-food companies [1] to de-risk their meat and dairy supply chains against climate and water risks by adopting strategic policies and targets based on forward-looking analyses across three key areas – greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use. Specifically related to feed, each company was evaluated against a framework developed by Ceres and FAIRR to assess whether companies had a supplier policy that specifies that supplier will address all major sources of water pollution and waste in the animal protein supply chain, including feed production, and whether companies had set a time-bound target that explicitly addresses water impacts in its feed and animal farming supply chain. [2] In November 2020, the FAIRR Initiative released its Protein Producer Index to assess the largest animal protein producers on critical environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. [3]

[1] Chipotle Mexican Grill; Domino’s Pizza; McDonalds; Restaurant Brands International; Wendy’s; and Yum Foods.

[2] “Global Investor Engagement on Meat Sourcing: Progress Briefing,” FAIRR, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.fairr.org/article/global-investor-engagement-on-meat-sourcing/

[3] https://www.fairr.org/index/

Forum for the Future

Forum for the Future is an international sustainability non-profit that works in partnerships with business, government, and civil society to accelerate the shift toward a sustainable future.[1] In 2015, Forum for the Future formed and facilitated the Protein Challenge 2040, which is an international protein collaboration between business and NGOs to focus and accelerate systemic change toward a new approach to protein. This collaboration identified a few major impact areas in need of rapid transformation, which coalesced into two key workstreams: rebalancing protein in our diets; and building a sustainable future for animal feed.[2] As part of the Protein Challenge 2040, Forum for the Future started the Feed Compass project in 2017 to explore the impacts of the animal feed system and the strategies to make it more sustainable.[3] In the Feed Compass project, innovators and NGOs from across the food system are developing a tool to help compare different types of feed and guide purchasing decisions.[4]  See the Case Studies section of this document for more on this organization.

[1] “Reinventing the way the world works,” Forum for the Future, accessed September 21, 2020, https://www.forumforthefuture.org/reinventing-the-way-the-world-works

[2] Forum for the Future, The Future of Food (2019), https://www.forumforthefuture.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=f2a9339c-8a62-4462-a886-f7de0e3fd729

[3] “1/3: Why pay attention to Animal Feed,” Forum for the Future, accessed September 21, 2020, https://www.forumforthefuture.org/blog/why-pay-attention-to-animal-feed

[4] Forum for the Future, The Future of Food.

Global Feed LCA Institute

The Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI) is an animal nutrition and food industry institute that is creating regional databases and a modelling tool to benchmark the environmental impact of feeding livestock and poultry production based on the scientifically robust Animal Nutrition Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) methodology for feed developed under the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) partnership. The purpose of the GFLI is to support meaningful environmental assessment of animal nutrition products and stimulate continuous improvement of the environmental performance in the animal nutrition and food industry. In December 2018, the first public version of the GFLI Database was made available in the European Union, Canada, and the U.S. The first version of the database consists of about 1,500 datasets of the main feed ingredients used in Europe and in other parts of the world.[1]

[1] “About the GFLI,” Global Feed LCA Institute, accessed September 22, 2020, http://globalfeedlca.org/about-gfli/about-the-gfli/

The Institute for Feed Education and Research



The Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) Is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded in 2009 by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA). IFEEDER focuses its work in two primary areas: funding animal feed and pet food research to support AFIA’s legislative and regulatory positions, and developing messaging to policymakers, consumer influencers, stakeholders that highlights the industry’s contributions to the availability of safe, wholesome and affordable food, and preservation of natural resources.[1]

IFEEDER is currently engaged in the first phase of a new research project that aims to assist the feed industry in addressing sustainability in a comprehensive, consistent, and strategic way. Specifically, the project has the goal of helping the feed industry by:[2]

  • identifying the sustainability risks and needs of AFIA’s members by segment.
  • developing tools that AFIA’s members can use to enhance or build their own sustainability programs.
  • communicating and articulating sustainability for the American animal feed sector.
  • targeting specific sustainability research topics to close knowledge gaps.
  • developing a “sustainability roadmap” that helps AFIA members and IFEEDER connect the industry’s overall sustainability story with the values of its stakeholders.

[1] “The Institute,” IFEEDER, accessed September 23, 2020, https://ifeeder.org/the-institute/

[2] “IFEEDER Seeks Contractor to Develop Feed Industry’s Sustainability Road Map,” IFEEDER, accessed September 23, 2020, https://ifeeder.org/ifeeder-seeks-contractor-to-develop-feed-industrys-sustainability-road-map/

The International Feed Industry Federation


The International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) represents the global feed industry as an essential participant in the food chain that provides sustainable, safe, nutritious, and affordable food for a growing world population. Overall, IFIF members represent over 80% of the compound animal feed production worldwide.[1] As part of its mission, IFIF supports and encourages the sustainable development of animal production through sustainability projects:

  • Specialty Feed Ingredients Sustainability Project (SFIS): The SFIS project brings together a consortium of international companies and associations dedicated to reducing the environmental impact of livestock through innovative specialty feed ingredients. The SFIS project examined the use of low protein (nitrogen) diets containing Amino Acids and Phytase in pigs and poultry (broilers in particular).[2]
  • Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI).[3]
  • Partnership on Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP).[4]
  • Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL).[5]

[1] “About IFIF,” International Feed Industry Federation, accessed September 14, 2020, https://ifif.org/about/ifif/

[2] “Specialty Feed Ingredients Sustainability Project (SFIS),” International Feed Industry Federation, accessed September 14, 2020, https://ifif.org/our-work/project/the-speciality-feed-ingredients-sustainability-project-sfis/

[3] “Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI),” International Feed Industry Federation, accessed September 14, 2020, https://ifif.org/our-work/project/global-feed-lca-institute-gfli/

[4] “Partnership on Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP),” International Feed Industry Federation, accessed September 14, 2020, https://ifif.org/our-work/project/partnership-on-livestock-environmental-assessment-and-performance-leap/

[5] “Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock,” International Feed Industry Federation, accessed September 14, 2020, https://ifif.org/our-work/project/global-agenda-for-sustainable-livestock/

Practical Farmers of Iowa


Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) is a membership organization that has pioneered farmer-centered and on-farm research of sustainable agriculture practices since the 1980s. PFI represents a diversity of farmers who raise corn and soybeans, hay, livestock, horticultural crops, and more.[1] Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) are the lead organizations of the Small Grains in the Corn Belt project, which has the goal of diversifying  the corn/soy system through more diverse livestock feed rations. As part of the Small Grains in the Corn Belt project, PFI has been conducting on-farm pilots, feasibility studies, livestock feeding trials and research that has quantified the environmental benefits and farmer-economic proposition of growing and feeding small grains as part of an extended rotation. Establishing the right conditions to make small grains work for farmers in the Corn Belt will positively impact water quality, soil health and greenhouse gas emissions.[2]

[1] “About,” Practical Farmers of Iowa, accessed October 26, 2020, https://practicalfarmers.org/about/

[2] “Small Grains in the Corn Belt: Project Components,” Sustainable Food Lab, accessed October 26, 2020, https://sustainablefoodlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Small-Grains-Project-Components.11.8.18.pdf

The Sustainable Food Lab


The Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) was launched in 2004 as a non-profit organization to help companies and organizations test and implement innovations in sustainability in the mainstream food system. SFL’s efforts are centered in collaboration and the staff utilize science and performance-based measurement tools to foster impactful change whether supporting change needed for an entire sector, a specific landscape, or an individual company. The partnerships and strong relationships that SFL staff have with people working “on the ground” are critical to continued success. SFL facilitates the Small Grains in the Corn Belt initiative during which SFL partners with global food and beverage companies and farmer organizations to diversify the corn/soy system through more diverse livestock feed rations.[1] See the Case Studies section of this document for more on this organization.  Also see Cool Farm Alliance in this section.

[1] “Our Approach,” Sustainable Food Lab, accessed October 23, 2020, https://sustainablefoodlab.org/the-food-lab/about/

TOOLS

The agriculture industry continues to evolve as it employs tools and technologies that make food production more productive, efficient, and sustainable. In this section, we will present tools that can help quantify and manage environmental impacts of feed production.

Adapt-N








The Adapt-N tool is a web-based nitrogen (N) recommendation tool for corn crops. The tool provides precise N fertilizer recommendations that account for the effects of seasonal conditions using high-resolution climate data, a dynamic computer model, and field-specific information on crop and soil management. The main users of Adapt-N are farmers and their advisors.[1] Adapt-N is currently available in the following U.S. states: Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin.[2]

[1] “Section Features,” Adapt-N, accessed September 21, 2020, http://www.adapt-n.com/#section-features

[2] Global Science & Technology, Success Stories on User Engagement (September 30, 2015), https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/NCEI-Success-Stories-on-User-Engagement-Case-Study-1-Adapt-N.pdf

AgriEdge / Ag Connections





AgriEdge whole-farm management system that enables decision making regarding economics and stewardship[1].  Powered by Land.db  (developed by Ag Connections, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Syngenta) the software maps, tracks, measures, and examines the inputs, outputs, inventory, pricing, sustainability metrics, and harvest of each field and enables crop planning and budgeting.  It also offers integrations with FarmShots to provide satellite imagery to help growers maximize yield, efficiency, and profits.

[1] “AgriEdge”, Syngenta, accessed October 30, 2020. https://www.syngenta-us.com/agriedge

Bunge's Centerfield






Centerfield is Bunge’s sustainable agriculture platform used to engage growers and food companies in the collection of farm-level data to promote supply chain transparency and sustainable agriculture. [1] Bunge’s merchandising managers meet with participating growers to collect data such as rainfall and irrigation, fertilizer trips, soil texture and land use, and tillage practices.  After GHG emissions, energy and other metrics from the farm operations are calculated, Bunge anonymously shares the aggregated information with participating growers and food customers who are interested in learning more about their supply chain.[2] In 2019, the sustainability metrics of Field to Market’s Fieldprint® Platform were integrated into Bunge Centerfield. The main users of Centerfield are growers and food companies interested in learning more about their supply chain. Participating growers also have access to their farm data. Centerfield is available for high oleic soy and canola producers, conventional and non-GMO corn producers, non-GMO soy producers, and rice producers in the U.S.

[1] “Welcome to Centerfield,” Bunge, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.bungecenterfield.com/

[2] “About Centerfield,” Bunge, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.bungecenterfield.com/Home/AboutCenterfield/tabid/197/Default.aspx

Cargill Nutrition System

Cargill Nutrition System (CNS) provides real-time nutrient analysis of feed ingredients, as well as information from Cargill’s global ingredient sourcing database. CNS allows for precise feed formulations addressing variables like species, climate, geography, business goals, nutrient requirements and local ingredient costs. The main users of CNS are beef, dairy, pork, and poultry producers. For instance, in Indonesia, poultry producers used CNS to optimize crude protein, amino acid and fiber levels in feed, reducing waste and improving bird performance. In Vietnam, sow producers employed CNS to upgrade feed blends and create new offerings for better nutrient balance during gestation and lactation.[1] CNS is available in 37 countries.

[1] “Cargill Nutrition System: A world of insights brought right to your door,” Cargill, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.cargill.com/animal-nutrition/innovation/cargill-nutrition-system

COMET-Farm™







The COMET-Farm system was developed through a partnership between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Colorado State University. It is an integrated web-based platform for quantification and assessment of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. COMET-Farm includes five estimation modules: soil and biomass related (field-based) emissions, livestock emissions, agroforestry emissions, forestry emissions, and energy emissions.[1] COMET-Farm helps growers evaluate their greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration benefits, and potential enhancements in emission reductions and sequestration options. The main users of the COMET-Farm system are growers of the major crops produced in the U.S. The COMET-Farm system is available in the U.S.

[1] “What is COMET Farm,” COMET Farm, accessed September 08, 2020, http://comet-farm.com/

Cool Farm Tool

The Cool Farm Tool is a farm-level calculator  managed by the Cool Farm Alliance, a global non-profit organization with 85 members and partners with a mission to enable millions of growers around the world to make more informed on-farm decisions that reduce their environmental impact. The Cool Farm Tool estimates GHG emissions, soil carbon sequestration, biodiversity, water use efficiency and food loss and waste and covers virtually all crops and livestock globally. [1] One exception is for crops grown in non-soil media (e.g. greenhouses or hydroponically), but proxies can be used.[2] The main crops for which the Cool Farm Tool was used in 2018 were potatoes, maize, vegetables, coffee and winter wheat. The livestock module includes beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine and poultry and incorporates crop inputs to assess feed impacts as well as grazing practices. The main users of the Cool Farm Tool are farmers and retailers. While farmers can use the Cool Farm Tool to explore greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction pathways, retailers can use it to quantify and manage environmental impacts in global supply chains.[3] The Cool Farm Alliance members participate in working groups to enhance tool outputs and applicability. The livestock working group (beef and dairy) is especially active. Cool Farm Tool is participating in the OpenTEAM initiative which is working to bring data inter-operability to the ecosystem of farm technology management supports.

[1] “The Cool Farm Tool,” Cool Farm Alliance, accessed September 08, 2020, https://coolfarmtool.org/coolfarmtool/

[2] “Frequently Asked Questions,” Cool Farm Alliance, accessed September 08, 2020, https://coolfarmtool.org/coolfarmtool/frequently-asked-questions/

[3] “The Cool Farm Tool,” Cool Farm Alliance, accessed September 22, 2020, https://coolfarmtool.org/

FAO Global Livestock Environmental Assesment Model







The Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM) is a GIS framework that simulates the bio-physical processes and activities along livestock supply chains under a life cycle assessment approach. The aim of GLEAM is to quantify production and use of natural resources in the livestock sector and to identify environmental impacts of livestock to contribute to the assessment of adaptation and mitigation scenarios. The model focuses primarily on the quantification of greenhouse gases emissions arising from the production of the 11 main livestock commodities. The GLEAM consists of five distinct modules: (a) the herd module; (b) the manure module; (c) the feed module; (d) the system module; (e) the allocation module. The targeted users of GLEAM are national and international project planners in governments, producers, and civil society organizations with the aim of understanding GHG emissions from the sector and reducing its contribution to climate change. [1]

[1] “Global Livestock Environmental Assessment Model (GLEAM),”Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, accessed September 08, 2020, http://www.fao.org/gleam/en/

FeedPrint NL 2.0 and International FeedPrint





FeedPrint NL 2.0 is an interactive tool developed to assess greenhouse gas emissions during the production and utilization of feed in the Netherlands. FeedPrint NL 2.0 calculates the carbon footprint of feed raw materials during their complete life cycle, ranging from crop production, processing of crop and animal products, compound feed production, and utilization by the animal. The tool is based on feed ingredients available on the Dutch market, covering 264 different feed products in total. The information on each raw material includes market mix data, with cultivation data from 60 different countries. The CFPAN calculation tool and database FeedPrint is developed and owned by Wageningen Livestock Research and Blonk Milieu Advies.[1]

In turn, the geographic applicability of the International FeedPrint is the European Union. The International FeedPrint contains 134 products, each containing their own mixes and multiple cultivation data. The number of products is lower than in Feedprint NL, since specific Dutch feed materials, roughage and grasses are excluded from the international database. The targeted users of both Feedprint NL 2.0 and FeedPrint International are farmers and suppliers[2]

[1] “FeedPrint NL,” Wageningen University, accessed September 09, 2020, http://webapplicaties.wur.nl/software/feedprintNL/index.asp

[2] “FeedPrint,” Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, accessed September 29, 2020, https://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/all/sag16676/$FILE/BMP-Tool-2-FeedPrint.pdf

Field to Market's Fieldprint Platform





The Fieldprint Platform is an assessment framework to measure the environmental impacts of U.S. commodity crop production against eight sustainability metrics and identify opportunities for continuous improvement. The Fieldprint Platform serves as a free resource for farmers to analyze their field-level sustainability impacts. The platform also offers brands, retailers and suppliers the opportunity to access aggregated data from farmers who opt-in to participate in local Continuous Improvement Projects and anonymously share their data to support downstream companies in assessing the sustainability of their supply chains. The platform is applicable to commodity crop production in the U.S.  Finally, through Field to Market’s Qualified Data Management Partner program, qualified partners may use the Fieldprint Application Programming Interface (API) to integrate Field to Market’s sustainability metrics within their existing farm management systems and precision agriculture tools, providing growers and the supply chain as a whole greater flexibility.[1]

[1] “Leveraging Sustainability Insights to Maximize Agronomic Advice,” Field to Market, accessed September 29, 2020, https://infoag.org/media/abstracts/6235_Conference_presentation_(pdf)_1564500362_Paul%20Hishmeh%20Leveraging%20Sustainability%20Insights%20to%20Maximiz

Granular






Corteva’s Granular is a farm management software that enables real time decision making through integration with equipment, tracking of historical data, inputs, outputs, yields, and sustainability to produce profitability estimates and scenario planning[1].  Granular tools use public data, user provided data, and satellite imagery to create analytics and benchmarking, land value predictions, and agronomic recommendations.

[1] Granular, accessed October 30, 2020, https://granular.ag/company/

Holos






Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Holos is a whole-farm model and software program that estimates greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions based on information entered for individual farms. The main purpose of Holos is to test possible ways of reducing GHG emissions from farms and is available at no cost to users. Users can select scenarios and farm management practices that best describe their operation and then adjust these practices to see the effect on emissions. The model includes 27 commonly grown annual and perennial crops, summer fallow, grassland, and 8 types of tree plantings, along with beef, dairy, sheep, swine and other livestock or poultry operations. Holos is available in North America.[1] Although the model was developed primarily as an exploratory tool for research, the model’s design makes it accessible and instructive to agricultural producers, educators, and policy makers as well.[2]

[1] “Holos software program,” Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, accessed September 09, 2020, https://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/scientific-collaboration-and-research-in-agriculture/agricultural-research-results/holos-software-program/?id=1349181297838

[2] Kroebel, Roland, Henry Janzen, and Karen A. Beauchemin. “Canadian Whole-Farm Model Holos-Development, Stakeholder Involvement, and Model Application.” AGUFM 2017 (2017): GC33I-08.

Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy FARM program







The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program provides protocols for environmental stewardship that account for the impact of feed production.[1] The FARM program helps track and communicate a farm’s environmental achievements by breaking down GHG emissions intensity by category (enteric, manure, energy, and feed production) and by gas type (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide).[2]

[1] “Animal Care,” Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, accessed September 15, 2020, https://www.usdairy.com/sustainability/animal-care

[2] “Environmental Sustainability,” Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, accessed September 15, 2020, https://www.usdairy.com/sustainability/environmental-sustainability

MyFarms





MyFarm is a farm management application that helps farmers optimize the performance of their farms and increase their productivity and profits. In addition, MyFarms provides Key Performance Indicators (KPI) metrics developed by members of The Sustainability Consortium for consumer brand companies, including yield, soil erosion, greenhouse gas intensity, and irrigation water.[1] This anonymous, aggregate report ensures that farmer and field identities are held in strict confidence.  MyFarms is available for farmers, ag retailers, grain processors, and consumer brand companies.[2]

[1] https://www.welcome.myfarms.com/features-consumer-brands

[2] https://www.welcome.myfarms.com/

National Pork Board's Pig Production Environmental Footprint Calculator

The Pig Production Environmental Footprint Calculator (PPEFC) is a software tool that calculates the greenhouse gas emissions, water and land use involved in sow and grow-finish production as well as estimating costs associated with production inputs, which can help producers identify areas for potential improved efficiency. The PPEFC model uses growth performance model developed by the National Research Council (NRC) to predict growth and feed consumption of pigs. The PPEFC model simulates pig growth, feed intake and water consumption, electricity, and natural gas use in each barn, manure handling, and greenhouse gas emissions over an annual cycle. The PPEFC is available for any county in the U.S.[1]

[1] “Environmental Impact of Pig Farming,” Pork Checkoff, accessed September 02, 2020, https://www.pork.org/environment/environmental-impact-pig-farming/

NRCS Resource Stewardship Evalution Tool







The Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool (RSET) evaluates an operation’s current management and conservation activities by benchmarking the operation and comparing it against stewardship thresholds for five overarching natural resource concerns: soil management, water quality, water quantity, air quality and wildlife habitat. The goal of the tool is to assist producers in achieving a stewardship level of conservation, recognize the stewardship benefits achieved by farmers, ranchers and forestland owners, and communicate the alternatives offered through conservation planning and science-based conservation practice implementation. The Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool is available are available for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners nationwide in the U.S.[1]

[1] “Resource Stewardship,” USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, accessed September 02, 2020, https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/technical/cp/?cid=nrcseprd429509

Nutrien's Agrible







Nutrien’s Agrible measures and reports field-level performance of several crops, including corn, soybean, cotton, and wheat. The Agrible platform provides agronomic information and sustainable solutions through long-term, scalable sustainability programs for growers, ag-retailers, and consumer packaged goods companies (CPGs) to take action.[1]

[1] https://about.agrible.com/

OpenTEAM





OpenTEAM, or Open Technology Ecosystem for Agricultural Management, is a farmer-driven, interoperable platform to provide farmers with the best possible knowledge to improve soil health, including remote sensing, agroecological models, decision tools, and observation tools. OpenTEAM offers field-level carbon measurement, digital management records, remote sensing, predictive analytics, and input and economic management decision support in a connected platform that reduces the need for farmer data entry while improving access to a wide array of tools. OpenTEAM is available for farmers, scientists and researchers, engineers, farm service providers, and food companies around the world.

[1] “Environmental Impact of Pig Farming,” Pork Checkoff, accessed September 02, 2020, https://www.pork.org/environment/environmental-impact-pig-farming/

Opteinics

Opteinics is a digital solution built by BASF to provide environmental footprinting of feed and animal protein. It calculates the environmental impact of feed and animal products to identify opportunities for improvement using Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), a technique that assesses the environmental aspects and potential impacts associated with a product. It was previously known as AgBalance Livestock project. Opteinics is currently available for pork and poultry. Beef, dairy, aquaculture and eggs are planned for 2021.

https://nutrition.basf.com/global/en/animal-nutrition/what-we-stand-for/sustainability/opteinics.html

 

The Sustainability Consortium THESIS (Key Performance Indicators)

Using a science-based approach, The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) works with corporate, civil society, and government stakeholders to identify hotspots, improvement opportunities, and key performance indicators (KPIs) for different types of consumer products.[1] TSC’s THESIS includes interactive tools that highlight environmental and social issues relevant to a product category, practices that can be used to drive improvement on those issues, and science-based key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and measure performance against these issues. The KPIs are designed to evaluate environmental and social impacts to create more sustainable products and to facilitate decision-making by retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers along the value chain. TSC’s THESIS includes feed KPIs to improve engagement of retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers in feed and animal production supply chains. The main users of TSC’s THESIS are retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers, who can engage customers, gain insights into the sustainability performance of their products, and receive new tools to help them drive performance. TSC’s THESIS is available globally.

[1] “THESIS, The Sustainability Insight System,” The Sustainability Consortium, accessed September 09, 2020, https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/what-we-offer/thesis/

The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Farmer Sustainability Assessment

The SAI Platform gathers and develops knowledge on sustainable agriculture, and shares with all interested parties to reach common understanding of the concept and of its long-term implications. Specifically related to feed sustainability, the SAI’s Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP) builds on the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) and its eleven criteria identified as relevant to the dairy sector globally to tackle sustainability issues, including GHG emissions, soil, and water use. In addition, the SDP requires all participating processors to address the prevention of deforestation. [1]

[1] “Our Value,” The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI) Platform, accessed September 03, 2020, https://saiplatform.org/our-value/what-we-do/#Working_Groups_and_Committees

Truterra




Truterra is an interactive on-farm digital platform launched in 2016 by Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN. The goal of the platform is to drive on-farm conservation solutions at scale, help farmers advance their stewardship goals, and help food companies measure sustainability progress. The platform establishes an environmental sustainability baseline for each field, identify improvement opportunities, and model the impact of various conservation practices, products and tools on field stewardship and profitability.  The main users of Truterra are farmers and their agronomy advisors. Over 1,600 farmers currently use the Truterra network to help them advance and accelerate stewardship on 26,000 fields. [1] Truterra is available in the U.S.

[1] “Truterra Insights,” Truterra, accessed September 03, 2020, https://www.truterrainsights.com/

USDA Intergrated Farm System Model

The Integrated Farm System Model (IFSM) is a model to predict long-term performance, environmental impact, and economics of dairy and beef production systems on a process level. The main goal of the IFSM is to be applied as research tool to evaluate and compare farm production systems. For instance, the model can simulate crop production, feed use, and the return of manure nutrients back to the land over many years of weather. Nutrient flows through the farm are modeled to predict potential nutrient accumulation in the soil and loss to the environment. The IFSM functions on all the major Windows operating systems. Input information is supplied to the program through three parameter files: the farm parameter file, the machinery file, and the weather file. Simulation output is available in four files, which contain summary tables, report tables, optional tables, and parameter tables. The summary tables provide average performance, environmental impact, costs, and returns for the years simulated. The model is available for all states of the U.S. [1]

[1] “Integrated Farm System Model,” USDA Agricultural Research Service, accessed September 09, 2020, https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/up-pa/pswmru/docs/integrated-farm-system-model/

REPORTS AND CASE STUDIES

The reports and case studies featured in this section compile approaches to improve current practices and to create innovative solutions for sustainable feed production.

PEFCR (Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules) Feed for Food Producing Animals (European Commission, April 2018)

The European Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) is a multi-criteria measure of the environmental performance of a good or service throughout its life cycle. The PEF information is produced by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) with the overarching purpose of helping to reduce the environmental impacts of goods and services. Each Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) contains a set of rules on how to measure the life cycle environmental performance of the product in scope.[1] In this context, the feed PEFCR contains an EU-harmonized methodology to comprehensively measure the environmental performance of feed production across 16 impact categories.[2] It provides important pointers for calculating the environmental footprint of feed products and production, and complements other activities such as the development of a global feed LCI database and a global feed LCA tool.[3]

[1] “The Environmental Footprint Pilots,” European Commission, accessed October 20, 2020, https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/ef_pilots.htm#pef

[2] PEFCR, PEFCR Feed for food producing animals (April 2018), https://ec.europa.eu/environment/eussd/smgp/pdf/PEFCR_feed.pdf

[3] “The PEFCR Feed for Food-Producing Animals,” FEFAC, accessed September 15, 2020, https://fefac.eu/priorities/sustainability/pefcr-feed/

Poultry Sustainability Guide (Environmental Defense Fund and K·Coe Isom)

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the food and agriculture advising firm K·Coe Isom outlined the best management practices (BMP) for feed production:[1]

I.) Priority nutrient use efficiency BMP for feed production

Getting started= foundational sustainability for feed production:

  1. Base nutrient management plan (NMP)

a) In that base NMP, use science-based process for determining rate. Options include but are not limited to:

  • Land grant university recommendation,
  • On-farm trials to determine economic optimum rate,
  • Stalk nitrate or tissue testing to evaluate and set rate,
  • N decision support tool to determine rate, or
  • Field history of yields from which an N recommendation is made based on yield goal system (use of LGU recommended rate preferred)

b) Testing protocol in place for manure, soil, crop tissue, and forages.

  1. Avoid applying most/significant N in the fall
  2. Split spring applications of N
  3. Swath/section control (reduce effects of overlapping applications in a field)
  4. Nitrogen stabilizer

Continued refinement and improvement of nutrient use efficiency (NUE) in feed production:

  1. Improved integration and crediting of litter (if used) in crop nutrients
  2. Incorporation of litter (if used)
  3. Following recommendations using N modeling tool
  4. Tissue analysis to evaluate and refine rate
  5. Develop and implement a plan based on zone management
  6. Drone normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) sensing and N recommendations
  7. Optical sensor technology and variable rate application

II.) Priority soil health and edge of field BMP for feed production

  1. Cover crops
  2. Conservation tillage or no till
  3. Soil health analysis
  4. Add additional crop to rotation (or more)
  5. Wetland (designed/placed to intercept water flow from field/farm)
  6. Riparian buffer (designed/placed to intercept nutrients/soil)
  7. Forested buffer (designed/placed to intercept nutrients/soil)
  8. Advance cover crops (multi species)
  9. Use of evaluation tool to identify unprofitable/high risk areas in field (i.e. AgSolver)

[1] Environmental Defense Fund, and K·Coe Isom, Poultry Sustainability Guide, https://614id4802rj1n5bzhugm3ddx-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/EDFBiz-Poultry-Sustainability-Report_FINAL.pdf

The feed behind our food: Time to act on feed (Forum for the Future, 2018)

The feed behind our food report was published in 2018 by the Forum for the Future as a result of the project “Feed Compass: acting on animal feed.” The goal of the project is to ensure that the Feed Compass tool will support the food industry in ensuring animals are fed sustainably and help to futureproof the food system in the long term.[1] The Forum for the Future’s Feed Compass project culminated in the creation of following feed criteria:

  1. Restorative land use and biodiversity practices
  2. Reduction of greenhouse (GHG) gas emissions
  3. ‘Circular’ approach
  4. Minimization of pollution
  5. Minimization of fish stock depletion
  6. Human rights and welfare
  7. Minimization of freshwater consumption
  8. Promotion of animal health and nutrition
  9. Financial viability

Forum for the Future defines a twofold leadership framework for feed: improvement of current practices and creation of new innovative solutions. The improvement of current practice includes responsible sourcing, better practices with existing crops, and crop diversification, while the creation of innovative solutions includes sourcing alternative proteins, adding specialty feed supplements, and closing the loop.[2]

[1] Forum for the Future, The feed behind our food: Time to act on feed (2018), http://www.igfa.ie/resources/FeedBehindOurFood.pdf

[2] “Feed Compass: acting on animal feed,” Forum for the Future, accessed September 22, 2020, https://www.forumforthefuture.org/feed-compass

Shared Value: How Smithfield Foods creates environmental and business benefits through supply chain partnerships (Smithfield Agronomics and EDF)

In 2013, Smithfield committed to work with grain farmers in its supply chain to adopt farming practices that would optimize fertilizer and build soil health on 75 percent of the area from which Smithfield directly sources grain — about 450,000 acres. In a report published in 2019, Smithfield Foods, in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), detailed how the company exceed that goal, improving practices on 560,000 acres in 2018. Smithfield’s initiatives focus on two key supply chain segments: hog farmers, and the grain farmers who grow hog feed.[1] This case study can assist other food companies and retailers in designing effective supply chain sustainability initiatives. Among the most successful grain and hog farm sustainability initiatives adopted by Smithfield in partnership with the EDF were:

  1. Smithfield Agronomics: Provides free agronomic services to farmers, including nutrient management, cover crop education and reduced-cost seed.
  2. Wheat program: Develops the southeastern supply of wheat with discounted seed and improved receiving capabilities.
  3. Midwest manure nutrient management: Employs Smithfield agronomists to support farmers with data and tools to go beyond state requirements in their nutrient management plans.
  4. Converting manure solids to fertilizer: Uses Smithfield manure to create a sustainable fertilizer in partnership with Anuvia Plant Nutrients.
  5. Regional Conservation Partnership Program: Partners to secure funding from a dedicated pool of federal cost-share funding for farmers to adopt conservation agriculture practices.
  6. Manure biogas technology: Deploys manure-to-energy projects at scale.

[1] Datu Research, Shared Value: How Smithfield Foods creates environmental and business benefits through supply chain partnerships (February 23, 2019), https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/content/smithfield-case-study.pdf

Making Diverse Rotations Work - Small Grains in the Corn Belt: 2016 - present (Sustainable Food Lab and Practical Farmers of Iowa)

Through the Small Grains in the Corn Belt project, Practical Farmers of Iowa (PFI) and Sustainable Food Lab (SFL) have been partnering with food and beverage companies since 2016 to design on-farm pilots, feasibility studies, livestock feeding trials and research that has quantified the environmental benefits and farmer-economic proposition of growing and feeding small grains as part of an extended rotation. The program has found success documenting the sustainability value, uncovering how to support farmers to be successful in integrating a small grain into their system, and exploring what is needed to scale to create market-pull for more diverse rotations in the Corn Belt. Feeding small grains from the corn-soy system as part of livestock rations has the greatest potential to provide farmers with a market-based incentive to extend their rotation – and one that shows significant environmental gain to the livestock industry. A 10-15% shift from corn to oats in hog and beef rations in the US Midwest can result in a 40- 70% GHG savings of the feed footprint.[1]

[1] “Small Grains in the Corn Belt Making Diverse Rotations Work,” Sustainable Food Lab, accessed September 15, 2020, https://sustainablefoodlab.org/initiatives/oats-in-the-cornbelt/

RESEARCH

Recognizing there is a large body of research on feed efficiency, this section focuses on novel research related to feed sustainability going beyond feed efficiency.

Eco-Efficiency

A life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts of a beef system in the USA [1]

Asem-Hiablie, S., Battagliese, T., Stackhouse-Lawson, K., & Rotz, A.

This research conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA) of the US beef value chain to develop baseline information on the environmental impacts of the industry including metrics of the cradle-to-farm gate (feed production, cow-calf, and feedlot operations) and post-farm gate (packing, case-ready, retail, restaurant, and consumer) segments. The relative environmental impacts of processes along the full beef value chain were assessed using a third party validated BASF Corporation Eco-Efficiency Analysis methodology. Value chain LCA results indicated that the feed and cattle production phases were the largest contributors to most environmental impact categories.

Eco-efficiency Among Dairy Farmers: The Importance of Socio-economic Characteristics and Farmer Attitudes [2]

Perez Urdiales, M., Oude Lansink, A. G. J. M., & Wall, A.

This research assessed the eco-efficiency of dairy farms in Spain. To do so, the authors used survey data analyze the environmental performance of 50 dairy farms in the Spanish region of Asturias. The authors defined eco-efficiency in the traditional way as a ratio between economic value added and environmental damage. The survey contained information on nutrients balances and greenhouse gas emissions which was used to calculate environmental pressure indicators. Eco-efficiency was measured using data envelopment analysis. The authors analyzed the influence of farmers’ socio-economic characteristics and attitudes in explaining these eco-efficiency scores using truncated regression and bootstrapping procedures. The authors found that, on average, the dairy farms are found to be highly eco-inefficient. The authors also found that younger farmers are more eco-efficient, as are farmers who expect to continue their operation for at least another five years.

U.S. Beef Eco-efficiency Analysis [3]

BASF

The purpose of the study was to quantify and baseline the current eco-efficiency profile of the U.S. beef industry during the period of 2011-2013, in order to gauge, plan for, and implement improvements for the U.S. beef industry. The system boundary for this study included the feed and cattle phases, as well the post-farm phases of harvesting, case-ready, retail, consumer, and restaurant. The feed production phase accounted for the life cycle of the feed (i.e., the agricultural crops and pastureland) that was consumed by the animals raised in the beef system. Input parameters for the feed phase were considered mainly based on modeling data produced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Integrated Farm Systems Model (IFSM). Crop production, feed use, and the return of manure nutrients back to the land were simulated for a crop, beef, or dairy farm. Growth and development of crops were predicted for each day based upon soil, water, and nitrogen availability, ambient temperature, and solar radiation. Simulated tillage, planting, harvest, storage, and feeding operations predict resource use, timeliness of operations, crop losses, and nutritive quality of feeds. Feed allocation and animal responses are related to the nutrient contents of available feeds and the nutrient requirements of the animal groups making up the herd.

Greenhouse gas emissions from pig and chicken supply chains–A global life cycle assessment. [4]

MacLeod, M., Gerber, P., Mottet, A., Tempio, G., Falcucci, A., Opio, C., Vellinga, T., Henderson, B., & Steinfeld, H.

This report presents results from an assessment carried out to improve the understanding of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions along livestock supply chains. The report found that, globally, GHG emissions from pig and chicken supply chains are relatively low. Pig supply chains are estimated to produce 0.7 gigatonnes CO2-eq per annum representing 9 percent of the livestock sector’s emissions. Chickens are estimated to emit 0.6 gigatonnes CO2-eq, representing 8 percent of the livestock sector’s emissions. While their emissions are comparatively low, the sector’s scale and rate of growth require reductions in emission intensity.

[1] Asem-Hiablie, Senorpe, et al. “A life cycle assessment of the environmental impacts of a beef system in the USA.” The International Journal of Life Cycle Assessment 24.3 (2019): 441-455.

[2] María Pérez Urdiales, Alfons Oude Lansink, and Alan Wall. “Eco-efficiency among dairy farmers: the importance of socio-economic characteristics and farmer attitudes.” Environmental and Resource Economics 64.4 (2016): 559-574.

[3] BASF, “U.S. Beef – Phase 2 Eco-efficiency Analysis,” NSF, https://www.beefresearch.org/CMDocs/BeefResearch/Sustainability%20Completed%20Project%20Summaries/BASF_NCBA%20US%20Beef%20Industry%20Phase2_%20NSF%20EEA%20Analysis%20Report_FINAL.pdf.

[4] MacLeod, Michael, et al. “Greenhouse gas emissions from pig and chicken supply chains–A global life cycle assessment.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2013.

Small Grains

Small Grains for Livestock: A Meta-Analysis

Lammers, P.

This report is a review of peer-reviewed, English language work comparing animal performance (dairy, beef, pork, broilers, and layers) when fed diets based on corn grain as compared to oats, barley, wheat, rye, or triticale.  The report is divided into four sections. The first provides a brief overview of plant carbohydrates and summarizes energy and nutrient concentration of representative feed grains. Section two reviews small grain use in beef and dairy cattle, while section three summarizes research in pigs and poultry. Section four introduces potential health and environmental impacts of increasing dietary fiber fed to pigs and poultry. The report concludes with recommended upper limits for small grain inclusion in dairy, beef, pork, and poultry diets that have been demonstrated to support animal performance at a level comparable to corn grain when fed as part of a complete and nutritionally balanced diet. On-going work in plant breeding and applied animal nutrition will likely result in further nuancing of these recommendations as new information becomes available. However, based on the available literature of feeding small grains to cattle, pigs, and poultry there is considerable opportunity to increase the use of these feedstuffs in livestock diets without sacrificing animal performance or product quality.

[1] Pete Lammers. “Small Grains for Livestock: A Meta-Analysis.” Sustainable Food Lab & Practical Farmers of Iowa. https://sustainablefoodlab.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Attachment-14-Small-Grains-For-Livestock_A-Meta-Analysis.pdf

COMPANIES’ FEED SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS

Every company along the value chain has the potential to make a significant contribution towards sustainable feed. In this section, we will feature examples of sustainable feed efforts of different processors, brands, and retailers.

Table 1. Examples of companies with commitments to feed sustainability strategies and initiatives.

Sustainable Animal Feed Strategy Initiative Company
Sustainable grain crop production & certified feed ingredients BeefUp Cargill
Ecosystem Service Market Consortium (ESMC) Pilot Project TNC, McDonald’s, Cargill, & Target
Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) Cargill, Carrefour,Tyson
Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Cargill, Carrefour, JBS, McDonald’s, Tyson
Small Grains for Pigs 2020 Smithfield
SmithfieldGro Smithfield
SOJALIM Carrefour
Tyson Foods and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Partnership Tyson
Sustainable/certified beef production Coalition for Global Protein Tyson
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) Cargill, JBS, McDonald’s, Tyson
McDonald’s Beef Sustainability Program McDonald’s
Progressive Beef Program Tyson
U.S. Round Table for Sustainable Beef Cargill, JBS, McDonald’s
Grazing management BeefUp Cargill
Grassland restoration project Cargill
Ranch Systems and Viability Planning WWF, Cargill, McDonald’s, & Walmart Foundation
Feed efficiency & nutrition Alternative feed Carrefour
Beef feeding trial in Iowa McDonald’s
Global Food Safety Initiative JBS
Research on Animal Nutrition Smithfield
Cargill

In addition to being a member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB), [1] the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS),[2] Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),[3] and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB),[4] Cargill has a number of initiatives related to feed sustainability:

BeefUp [5]

In July 2019, Cargill launched the BeefUp Sustainability, an initiative committed to achieving a 30% greenhouse gas (GHG) intensity reduction across its North American beef supply chain by 2030. The opt-in initiative will reduce GHG emissions throughout Cargill’s beef supply chain from a 2017 baseline, measured on a per pound of product basis. Through this initiative, Cargill will invest in science-based practices, building tailored programs in four key areas:

  1. Grazing management – Cargill is exploring different practices with ranchers, such as grazing management planning and adaptive management, to understand how they impact sustainability outcomes related to carbon storage, wildlife habitats, water, and other ecological and economic parameters.
  2. Feed production – Cargill is working with farmers to help implement soil health practices in row crops, such as fertilizer optimization and cover crops that lower greenhouse gas emissions from cattle feed ingredients.
  3. Innovation – Cargill is investing in emerging technologies and introducing new ideas to reduce emissions.
  4. Food waste reduction – Cargill is identifying ways to partner with customers to reduce food waste and advancing efforts, such as packaging innovation and shelf-life extension.

Grassland restoration project

Burger King® restaurants and Cargill are teaming up with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and ranchers within the Northern Great Plains to launch a three-year grasslands restoration program. Through reseeding, the program aims to convert nearly 8,000 acres of marginal cropland throughout Montana and South Dakota to ecologically diverse grasslands with beef cattle as the primary grazers in the ecosystem to maintain it.

[1] “Members,” Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.grsbeef.org/page-1861857

[2] “Members,” Round Table on Responsible Soy, accessed October 26, 2020, https://responsiblesoy.org/miembros?lang=en

[3] “Search For Members,” Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, accessed October 26, 2020, https://rspo.org/members/all

[4] “Current Members,” U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.usrsb.org/membership

[5] “Cargill aims to BeefUp Sustainability,” Cargill, accessed September 09, 2020, https://www.cargill.com/story/cargill-aims-to-beefup-sustainability.

Carrefour

In addition to being a member of the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS)[1] and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), [2] Carrefour has a few initiatives related to sustainable feed:

SOJALIM

In 2016, Carrefour and Avril announced the creation of SOJALIM, a sustainable soybean supply chain operating in Southwest France. Created in collaboration with the EURALIS and FIPSO cooperatives, it enables suppliers to feed their animals with sustainable feed for the Carrefour Quality Line pork products.

Other sustainable feed initiatives

Carrefour developed alternative feeds that can help reduce the use of soy in animal feeds. These include a local vegetable-based protein, as well as a non-GMO animal feed that uses geographic traceability with the Pro Terra standard to track the absence of deforestation in the supply chain. In addition, Carrefour has also sustainable feed initiatives with their suppliers. In France, some animal products are now fed with local soy and feed, a key source for French cereals as well as eggs, chicken and pork from our Carrefour Quality Line (CQL). In addition, more than 350 Carrefour and CQL products sold in France are fed without GMOs and with traced soy.

[1] “Members,” Round Table on Responsible Soy, accessed October 26, 2020, https://responsiblesoy.org/miembros?lang=en

[2] “Search For Members,” Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, accessed October 26, 2020, https://rspo.org/members/search-for-members.

JBS

Multi-Stakeholder Partnerships and the Global Food Safety Initiative[1]

In addition to being a member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB),[2] the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),[3] and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB),[4] all of JBS’ facilities are certified by the Global Food Safety Initiative, which covers the feed safety management system, good manufacturing practices, and HACCP-based requirements that shall be in place in a feed scheme’s standard, as well as requirements related to the competency of auditors carrying out feed production audits.[5]

[1] “Beef,” JBS, accessed September 08, 2020, https://jbssa.com/our-business/beef/

[2] “Members,” Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.grsbeef.org/page-1861857

[3] Search For Members,” Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, accessed October 26, 2020, https://rspo.org/members/search-for-members.

[4] “Current Members,” U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.usrsb.org/membership

[5] Global Food Safety Initiative and The Consumer Goods Forum, GFSI Guidance Document, https://www.mccain.com/media/1407/gfsi-guidance-document.pdf

McDonald's

In addition to being a member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB),[1] the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),[2] and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB), [3] McDonald’s has a number of initiatives related to sustainable feed:

Beef Sustainability Program

McDonald’s Beef Sustainability Program prioritizes seven impact areas: advance economically viable farming; preserve forests; address climate change; reduce food and packaging waste; respect human rights; promote the health and welfare of animals; and protect water. As part of McDonald’s Beef Sustainability Program, by the end of 2020 in each of the company’s top 10 beef sourcing countries (US, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Ireland, Canada, France, NZ, UK, Poland), McDonald’s will:

  • Accelerate industry progress: source a portion of beef from suppliers participating in sustainability programs aligned with the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef principles and criteria, and that meet McDonald’s requirements for each applicable market (transparency, credible verification, and measured performance against clearly identified impact areas).
  • Share knowledge and tools: engage with local farmers through farmer outreach projects to help develop and share best practices.
  • Promote flagship farmers: select and showcase McDonald’s Flagship Farmers.
  • Pioneer new practices: set up McDonald’s Progressive Farm Partnerships to trial and discover new practices related to the company’s Priority Impact Areas.
  • Preserve forests: in regions with identified risks relating to the preservation of forests, verify that the beef sourced from those regions comes from farms where primary forests and high conservation value lands are preserved.

McDonald’s Flagship Farmers Program

The McDonald’s Flagship Farmers Program provides a platform for farmers, ranchers, producers, and growers, recognized within the McDonald’s supply chain, to share their knowledge and experiences in key areas of agricultural sustainability with other farmers around the world. McDonald’s priority impact areas include forest conservation, climate change, waste, water, soil, biodiversity, and ecosystems. The McDonald’s Flagship Farmers Program has engaged farmers and ranchers in Europe for several years. It is now focused on expanding globally, with an emphasis on key beef producing countries: the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, France, and Poland.[4]

Beef Feeding Trial in Iowa – Small Grains in the Corn Belt

McDonald’s is a sponsor of a beef feeding trial on small grains that will incorporate oats into the cattle’s total mixed ration (TMR). The trial will be conducted in the Couser Cattle Company, of Nevada, Iowa, which is a medium-scale farmer-feeder beef operation with over 5,000 head of cattle and over 5,000 acres of corn and soybean.  A treatment group of 500 cattle will be fed a TMR comprised of 25% oats, compared to the control group of 500 cattle which will receive a standard ration without oats. The trial will evaluate the performance and health of the cattle over a 200-day period, the greenhouse gas emission impacts, and the farm feasibility and economics of incorporating oats.[5]

[1] “Members,” Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.grsbeef.org/page-1861857

[2] “Members,” Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, accessed October 26, 2020, https://rspo.org/members/all

[3] “Current Members,” U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.usrsb.org/membership

[4] “About the program,” McDonald’s Flagship Farmers Program, accessed October 23, 2020, https://www.flagshipfarmers.com/en/about-the-program/

[5] Sustainable Food Lab. “Small Grains in the Corn Belt: Supply Chain Partner Newsletter.” Issue 9 (Summer 2020). https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?u=a4585b9dcc47387661ebb18cb&id=f972d2638e

Smithfield Foods

Research on Animal Nutrition

Smithfield’s animal nutrition experts routinely study ways to improve the efficient use of animal feed, analyzing raw ingredients and finished feeds for nutritional content and quality. They also work with the research and technology group to evaluate the impact of novel feed concepts and additives on animal performance. Through improvements in genetics, nutrition and management, Smithfield has reduced the amount of feed needed to raise their animals and is making progress toward the goal to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions 25% by 2025.

Small Grains for Pigs 2020[1]

Smithfield Foods launched a new program to offer farmers wheat and oat contracts to deliver grain to Smithfield’s Allerton and Davis City elevators in south-central Iowa. In addition, the program offers a cost-share rate of $25/acre on up to 100 acres through Practical Farmers of Iowa to establish a summer cover crop after oat or wheat harvest.[2]

SmithfieldGro: Grain Production Sustainability

Smithfield and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) began their collaboration in 2013 with a program to work with grain suppliers to establish sound fertilizer management practices. Now called Smithfield Agronomics, the program seeks to enhance farmer productivity and sustainability, develop partnerships with farmers, and ensure a sustainable grain supply for Smithfield’s operations by providing:

  • On-staff agronomists who demonstrate strategies and provide free agronomic advice to enable farmers to incorporate more efficient fertilizer practices.
  • Access to reduced-price tools and programs that assist farmers in improving fertilizer usage, crop production, water quality, and soil health.
  • Economic incentives to diversify crop production and create a market for winter wheat cover crops.[3]

The collaboration between EDF and Smithfield has reduced fertilizer loss and improved soil health on more than 400,000 acres in the regions where Smithfield sources feed grain. In 2018, the USDA Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) awarded $1,080,000 to expand the collaboration’s ongoing grain sustainability efforts in North Carolina and scale up the program in Iowa, providing additional opportunities for farmers interested in improving their operations. The RCPP helps grain farmers with the costs of adopting conservation practices such as establishing nutrient management systems, planting cover crops, and practicing conservation tillage. Participating farmers will be supported by the combined efforts of 16 partner organizations, which include producer groups, government agencies, universities, and nonprofits.[4]

[1] Practical Farmers of Iowa. Small Grains for Pigs 2020. https://practicalfarmers.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/PFI2019_Smithfield-Program_Flyer.pdf

[2] “New oat, wheat markets debut in Iowa,” Farm Progress, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.farmprogress.com/

[3] Datu Research. Shared Value: How Smithfield Foods creates environmental and business benefits through supply chain partnerships (February 23, 2019). https://www.edf.org/sites/default/files/content/smithfield-case-study.pdf

[4] “$1 million USDA award expands public-private partnerships for ag sustainability,” Environmental Defense Fund, accessed October 27, 2020, http://blogs.edf.org/growingreturns/2018/02/14/usda-rcpp-north-carolina-iowa/

Tyson Foods

In addition to being a member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB),[1] the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS),[2] and the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO),[3] Tyson Foods has a number of initiatives related to sustainable feed:

Coalition for Global Protein

In January 2020, Tyson Foods launched the Coalition for Global Protein to promote and advance the future of sustainable protein. The Coalition for Global Protein’s main objectives are to:

  1. Increase understanding around the challenges of feeding a growing population with more varied and sustainable protein options.
  2. Identify new and creative solutions.
  3. Activate those solutions through pilot programs.

Tyson Foods and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Partnership

In 2019, Tyson Foods and the Environmental Defense Fund created a partnership with the goal of supporting improved environmental practices on 2 million acres of row crop corn by the end of 2020. This represents enough corn to feed all of Tyson Foods’ annual broiler chicken production in the U.S., as well as some of the pigs and cattle the company buys from independent farmers and ranchers.

The partnership’s first project focuses on land stewardship and aims to pilot and scale agriculture practices on 500,000 acres of corn to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), improve water quality and maximize farmer profitability. This corn is used to feed poultry, as well as the cattle and pigs raised by independent farmers and ranchers. In FY2019, Tyson launched two pilot projects:

  1. MyFarms: The first pilot equipped a network of agronomists with MyFarms, a farm management software program, to provide farmers with insights about the value of conservation practices. Using MyFarms’ platform, farmers can anonymously learn from one another about opportunities to improve yield and economic performance through the adoption of conservation practices such as planting cover crops and improving soil and manure management. In 2019, the program did not reach its target goal, enrolling only 11,000 acres.
  2. Farmers Business Network (FBN): The second pilot is in partnership with Farmers Business Network (FBN), an organization offering technical and agronomic assistance across a network of 10,000 farmers who span nearly 35 million acres. This large network enabled FBN to recruit from their vast farmer membership, enrolling 408,000 acres of farmland in the first year. This wealth of baseline data allowed Tyson to identify both use of conservation practices and areas for improvement.

Progressive Beef Program[4]

Tyson Fresh Meats is the first beef processor to license the Progressive Beef™ program, a cattle management and sustainability program for feedlot operators. Launched in 2000 by Beef Marketing Group, the Progressive Beef program is a quality management systems approach to beef production with the goal of bringing transparency and verification to consumers. Tyson doesn’t own feedlots or ranches, but instead relies on more than 3,600 independent producers across the country. Feedyards certified in the program focus efforts in three areas: cattle care, food safety and environmental sustainability, and are verified twice per year. Each audit is a report card, and the metrics involved play a key role in the path of continuous improvement.

[1] “Members,” Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.grsbeef.org/page-1861857

[2] “Members,” Round Table on Responsible Soy, accessed October 26, 2020, https://responsiblesoy.org/miembros?lang=en

[3] “Search For Members,” Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, accessed October 26, 2020, https://rspo.org/members/all

[4] Tyson, 2019 Sustainability Report, https://www.tysonsustainability.com/downloads/Tyson_2019_Sustainability_Report.pdf

Walmart

Walmart’s Regenerative Approach

In September 2020, Walmart announced that, in addition to decarbonizing its global operations, Walmart is setting the goal of becoming a regenerative company that works to restore, renew, and replenish.[1] Not only can a regenerative approach to nature help reverse negative impacts and sustain critical resources for the future, it can also provide around a third of the solution to climate change. Walmart is targeting zero emissions by 2040, without the use of carbon offsets, across its global operations by:

  • Harvesting enough wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100% renewable energy by 2035.
  • Electrifying and zeroing out emissions from all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040.
  • Transitioning to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs and data and distribution centers by 2040.

Along with the Walmart Foundation, Walmart aims to protect, manage, or restore some of the world’s most critical landscapes by:

  • Continuing to support efforts to preserve at least one acre of natural habitat for every acre of land developed by the company in the U.S.
  • Driving the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices, sustainable fisheries management and forest protection and restoration. Walmart is expanding its forests policy by aiming to source palm oil, beef, soy, pulp, paper, and timber 100% deforestation-free by 2025.
  • Investing in and working with suppliers to source from place-based efforts that help preserve natural ecosystems and improve livelihoods. [2]

Project Gigaton [3]

In 2017, Walmart launched the Project Gigaton to avoid one billion metric tons (a gigaton) of greenhouse gases from the global value chain by 2030. Through Project Gigaton, suppliers can take their sustainability efforts to the next level through goal setting and get credit from Walmart for the progress they make. Suppliers can deepen their engagement with the agriculture and forest pillars of Project Gigaton using new tools, guidance, and progress calculators on Walmart’s Sustainability Hub.

Table 2. Project Gigaton Supplier Recognition

COMPANY DATE GOALS
Cargill 11/10/2017 Cargill has committed to reduce absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in operations by a minimum of 10 percent by 2025, against a 2017 baseline.
Smithfield Foods 04/01/2017 Smithfield has committed to reduce its absolute GHG emissions by 25 percent by 2025. When achieved, this goal will reduce emissions by more than 4 million metric tons. In 2014, Smithfield Hog Production Division (SHPD) launched a Fertilizer Optimization initiative geared to the company’s feed grain supply chain. Through this program, grain farmers in SHPD’s grain sourcing regions will receive access to the tools and practices they need to optimize fertilizer application and improve soil health when growing grains for animal feed. By 2018, Smithfield HPD will provide outreach to grain farmers in our nationwide sourcing regions with a goal of influencing 75% of our grain procurement acres to be farmed with efficient fertilizer and soil health practices.
Tyson 06/01/2017 Tyson Foods has committed to support improved environmental practices on 2 million acres of corn production by the end of 2020. This is the largest-ever land stewardship commitment by a U.S. protein company and is expected to lower the greenhouse gas emissions generated by our supply chain. As farmers implement increasingly efficient land and nutrient management practices, the effects can be felt throughout the supply chain. Specifically, through optimized nutrient management, there will be less demand for fertilizer resulting in less energy used to produce the fertilizer. In addition, there will be less fertilizer applied per acre, resulting in reduced total nitrous oxide emissions.

Sustainable Beef Supply Chain

In 2016, Walmart U.S. committed to sourcing 20 key commodities more sustainably by 2025, including beef. As a result, Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club U.S. announced a set of aspirations to meet their 2025 objectives:

  • Soil Health and Animal Welfare: Walmart works with suppliers to improve grain sourcing and grazing management practices across a total of 12 million acres, while upholding suppliers to the “Five Freedoms” for animal welfare (freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain, injury, or disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress).
  • Transparency and Partnership: Walmart’s aspirations also include encouraging suppliers to continuously improve their efforts in understanding the entire beef production cycle, from farm to fork. Using a science-driven process, Walmart worked with The Nature Conservancy to identify opportunities and strategies to improve sustainability efforts throughout their supply chain, which can ultimately lead to improved soil health and decreased greenhouse gas emissions. With this in place, Walmart aspires to source from fresh beef suppliers who have a tech-enabled supply chain to measure sustainability impact at scale. To measure, track and understand which efforts are most successful, Walmart asks suppliers to participate in annual reporting initiatives like Walmart’s Project Gigaton initiative and THESIS performance assessments.
  • Collaboration: Walmart partners with key collective action initiatives, such as the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, Midwest Row Crop Collaborative and Field to Market. These efforts help the industry come together to share and align on best practices, course correct where needed, and continue to evolve the industry to meet goals for suppliers and the environment. [4]

[1] Walmart, Walmart sets goal to become a regenerative company, https://corporate.walmart.com/media-library/document/walmart-sets-goal-to-become-a-regenerative-company/_proxyDocument?id=00000174-ae08-dcf3-a7fc-afdcca070000

[2] Walmart, Walmart sets goal to become a regenerative company, https://corporate.walmart.com/media-library/document/walmart-sets-goal-to-become-a-regenerative-company/_proxyDocument?id=00000174-ae08-dcf3-a7fc-afdcca070000

[3] “Supplier Recognition,” Walmart Sustainability Hub, accessed September 18, 2020, https://www.walmartsustainabilityhub.com/supplier-recognition

[4] “Grazing Toward a Sustainable Beef Supply Chain,” Walmart, accessed October 12, 2020, https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2020/08/07/grazing-toward-a-sustainable-beef-supply-chain

[5] “Pilot Projects,” Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, accessed October 26, 2020, https://ecosystemservicesmarket.org/pilot-projects/

[6] “Project Supports Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture,” Drovers, accessed October 26, 2020, https://www.drovers.com/article/project-supports-nebraska-regenerative-agriculture

[7] “World Wildlife Fund Joins the Walmart Foundation, Cargill, McDonald’s to Launch Million-Acre Grazing Initiative to Help Restore Grasslands, Address Climate Change,” McDonald’s Newsroom, accessed October 26, 2020, https://news.mcdonalds.com/news-releases/news-release-details/world-wildlife-fund-joins-walmart-foundation-cargill-mcdonalds/

Cross-Industry Collaborations

Target, Cargill, McDonald’s, and The Nature Conservancy Nebraska Beef Feed Sustainability Project

Ecosystem Service Market Consortium (ESMC) Pilot Project

In September 2020, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), McDonald’s, Cargill, and Target announced a collaborative partnership to launch a five-year, $8.5 million pilot project aimed at working with Nebraska farmers to advance soil health practices. The program will work with interested farmers to reach 100,000 acres of land and provide them with the technical and financial assistance to scale the implementation of regenerative soil health practices, including cover cropping, reduced tillage, and diversified crop rotation. [5] The goal of the pilot project is to help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and help farmers adapt to climate change. Nebraska is one of the top states for U.S. beef production and among the top three states for corn production, a key ingredient for cattle feed. Overall, this effort has the potential to sequester 150,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide over the course of the project. The program is an Ecosystem Services Market Consortium (ESMC) pilot project and a registered Field to Market Continuous Improvement Accelerator project.

Innovation Center for US Dairy Mid-Atlantic Project [1]

This project allows dairy cooperatives and their farmers in Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia to trial Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform, assess value, provide feedback, and identify continuous improvement opportunities. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will use aggregate findings from implementing dairy cooperatives to inform national strategies for dairy feed sustainability. This project further connects to the NRCS Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool (RSET), and will identify opportunities for Fieldprint data to provide RSET inputs that can advance farmer access to NRCS conservation support.

Innovation Center for US Dairy Western Project [2]

This project allows dairy cooperatives and their farmers in California, Idaho, Nevada, and Texas to trial Field to Market’s Fieldprint Platform, assess value, provide feedback, and identify continuous improvement opportunities. The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy will use aggregate findings from implementing dairy cooperatives to inform national strategies for dairy feed sustainability. This project further connects to the NRCS Resource Stewardship Evaluation Tool (RSET), and will identify opportunities for Fieldprint data to provide RSET inputs that can advance farmer access to NRCS conservation support.

Sauk Watershed Project [3]

The Nature Conservancy, the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program (MAWQCP) and the Stearns County Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) have partnered to implement and measure the environmental impact of innovative outreach and engagement programs that encourage whole farm planning for water quality in the Sauk River Watershed in west central Minnesota. This project has the goal of achieving an overall water quality outcome while addressing soil health and climate change. As an enrolled project in Field to Market’s Continuous Improvement Accelerator, this initiative will benefit from the Fieldprint Platform and anonymous peer-to-peer benchmarking.

Environmental Initiative Corn (silage) Minnesota [4]

This project will focus on working with dairy producers in Minnesota to document and demonstrate sustainability in the feed production systems.

Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance Project [5]

The goal of this project is to improve water quality and soil health in an area of Southwest Wisconsin. This will be done by engaging farmer members of the Lafayette Ag Stewardship Alliance (LASA) and their partners in utilizing tools and data to increase knowledge and maximize the benefits of on-farm conservation work.

[1] https://members.fieldtomarket.org/members/project-directory/innovation-center-us-dairy-mid-atlantic-project

[2] https://members.fieldtomarket.org/members/project-directory/innovation-center-us-dairy-western-project

[3] https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/MNMDA/bulletins/2a02b0f

[4] https://members.fieldtomarket.org/members/project-directory/environmental-initiative-corn-silage-minnesota

[5] https://members.fieldtomarket.org/members/project-directory/lafayette-ag-stewardship-alliance

Ranch Systems and Viability Planning

In September 2020, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Cargill, McDonald’s, and the Walmart Foundation launched the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning (RSVP) network to improve the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains, focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald’s are investing over $6 million in the RSVP, which will be led by the WWF. The new program will support ranchers across the ecoregion with technical expertise, training, and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, this effort will result in increased carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration and better outcomes for biodiversity. [7]

DISCUSSION

As the demand for animal protein increases,[1] so does the demand for animal feed. In this context, the issue of feed sustainability has risen up the corporate agenda in recent years and remains one of the biggest challenges for the industry. The purpose of this Resource Guide on Sustainable Animal Feed was to provide resources and information related to feed sustainability to help our members and community create, meet, and exceed their feed sustainability goals.

Despite the complex environmental, social, and economic issues that still need to be addressed in the feed industry, every company along the value chain has the potential to make a significant contribution towards feed sustainability. Recently, companies’ feed sustainability efforts have expanded from sustainable grain crop production initiatives to initiatives focused on reducing the demand for feed through feed eco-efficiency and novel feed ingredients.[2] As commitments to regenerative agriculture increase across consumer goods companies and retailers the heightened focus on a systems approach to feed as part of both the animal system and the environmental system is expected.  This holistic approach will broaden the emphasis from fostering sustainable production of feed ingredients to enhancing the overall sustainability of the animal and environmental system including feed.

[1] “Global and regional food consumption patterns and trends,” World Health Organization, accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/3_foodconsumption/en/index4.html

[2] Why pay attention to Animal Feed, “Forum for the Future,” accessed October 27, 2020, https://www.forumforthefuture.org/blog/why-pay-attention-to-animal-feed

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