Water Impacts of Business Operations
2017 – Pilgrim's Pride Corp
Pilgrim's Pride (Pilgrim's) is exposed to regulatory, reputational, and financial risk associated with water
pollution from animal feed and byproducts through its direct operations, contract farms, and suppliers. Pilgrim's cultivation of feed ingredients for the average weekly production of 37 million birds requires fertilizer inputs that can contribute to nutrient pollution if improperly managed. Animal waste may contain nutrients, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and pathogens, and pharmaceutical residue. These contaminants and poor manure disposal practices can negatively impact Pilgrim's water supply, and contaminate local waterways, endangering the environment, workers, and public health (including contributing to "blue baby syndrome" and higher cancer incidences).
Pilgrim's 30 processing plants have the potential to release toxic substances into waterways. Pilgrim's released 544,790 pounds of toxic pollutants in U.S. waterways in 2014, as reported in U.S. EPA's Toxic Release Inventory. In January 2015, the company received a notice of violation from the EPA for its Gainesville, Georgia plant for its failure to comply with 24 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit requirements.1 ln 2015, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution found that since 2006, Pilgrim's has dumped more pollutants into Flat Creek than the state allows. 2
The UN Human Right to Water ensures the right to sufficient, safe, acceptable and physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses. Contamination of water sources from Pilgrim's operations and contract farms would interfere with this right. UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 includes a commitment to improve water quality by reducing pollution and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals.
There is a growing trend toward increased state regulation and oversight of animal production and water stewardship, including in Iowa, Washington, Wisconsin, Maryland, and Virginia, with tightened requirements related to manure disposal, field application of manure, and groundwater monitoring. Wal-Mart, a Pilgrim's customer, uses a Sustainability Index to assess suppliers, which includes key performance indicators on water, manure and nutrient management, and fertilizer use. Pilgrim's competitor Perdue has launched a large-scale poultry litter recycling operation to prevent nutrient pollution.
Pilgrim's policies, contracts, and codes do not address water quality, and there is no publicly available disclosure on water quality for operations, supply chain and contract farms. Shareholders therefore cannot assess performance due to lack of metrics, goals, or information about management of contamination risks.
RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board of Directors adopt and implement a water stewardship policy designed to reduce risks of water contamination at: Pilgrim's-owned facilities; facilities under contract to Pilgrim's; and Pilgrim's suppliers.
Supporting Statement: Proponents believe the water policy should include:
· Requirements for leading practices for nutrient management and pollutant limits;
· Financial and technical support to help implement the policy;
· Robust and transparent measures to prevent water pollution incidents;
· Specific time-bound goals to ensure conformance with the policy; and
· Transparent mechanism, such as CDP's Water Questionnaire, to regularly disclose progress on
· adoption and implementation of the policy.
1 http ://media.morristechnolo£v.com/wcbmedia/uoload/£ainesvi I le/artiele/20 I 5i03i23/0324CH JCKENDOC 1.ndf
2 https :/I chattahoochee. org/wp-content/up loads/2013/08/F ew-pena !ti es-lax-oversight-for-chicken-plants-thatpollute-_-www. myaj c . pdf