“Part of our individual objective [of joining the partnership] is to develop a database for the carbon footprint of the major processed ingredients we use in feed manufacturing,” Newman says. “That information will help our members make sure they’re doing their best to minimize their impact on the environment through feeding livestock and poultry.”
IFEEDER trustee Bruce Crutcher, president of Trouw Nutrition, says the feed industry is eager to learn how it can improve its environmental footprint.
“We all know environmental stewardship has room for growth,” says Crutcher. “Being able to measure where you have been, where you are currently and the impact of the changes you make going forward will be very valuable.”
Food for all
The root of production agriculture’s need to benchmark its environmental impact is the fact the population is on a steep upward trajectory. By the year 2050, it’s estimated there will be a total of 9.1 billion people to feed worldwide.
“We have to double [global food output], but we can’t just double herd sizes; we have to get more product out of existing herds or shrinking herds,” says Mitloehner. “We’ve shown that’s possible in the United States, where we’ve doubled our beef production with half the number of animals in the last 40 years, but we need to do the same thing all over the world. The obstacle is that many feel we’ve gone beyond the point of optimization and we’re now exploiting animals and the environment.”
The reality is that increasing the world’s food supply can’t be achieved without the commercial feed and livestock sectors. Despite public perception, the industry has always stood for environmental stewardship, and through the UN FAO’s environmental benchmarking partnership, it will find better ways to measure its footprint and make improvements to allow for a safe, sustainable food supply for generations to come.