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Joint conference addresses animal welfare innovation and sustainability

US-RSPE and IPWA joint conference covered animal welfare innovation and sustainability trends.

30 October 2019, at 3:01pm

“What do consumers want when it comes to animal welfare? How you ask the question matters. Who answers the question also matters,” said Dr. Candace Croney, director, Center for Animal Welfare Science with Purdue University, during her keynote address at the first joint annual meeting of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry & Eggs (US-RSPE) and the International Poultry Welfare Alliance (IPWA) in Atlanta, Georgia. As part of her presentation on “Community (Multi-Stakeholder) Perceptions and Attitudes about Animal Welfare and Sustainable Agriculture,” Croney covered a variety of areas, such as addressing consumer’s worries about animal welfare, consumer challenges, sources of animal welfare information, and how one can lead on animal welfare and sustainability. She concluded her keynote by stating, “To gain credibility and trust, be explicit about care, compassion and animals…not efficiencies, benefits to farmers, etc.”

The conference began with Ryan Bennett, executive director for the US-RSPE/IPWA, discussing the joint structure for the two groups and how they will work together domestically and internationally. Molly Parker, director of food safety and animal care for Butterball and IPWA board member, provided information on IPWA’s structure and goals, which include helping to shape the global discussion for poultry welfare; committing to advancing poultry welfare outcomes through the poultry and egg value chain; increasing both knowledge and understanding about animal welfare; and inspiring improvements via innovation, science and production systems that will result in better outcomes for poultry, the poultry value chain, the environment and consumers.

Leigh Ann Johnston, director of sustainable food strategy for Tyson Foods and US-RSPE chair, provided an overview of US-RSPE’s vision, mission and focus areas, as well as key accomplishments that include the development of a 3-year strategic plan and formation of membership, recruitment and framework committees. Johnston remarked that “the focus areas are interconnected and material to stakeholders and include being environmentally sound, socially responsible and economically viable.”

Breakout sessions were held by each group and addressed topics that included innovation in animal welfare; the evolution of animal welfare decisions and understanding; how to work with external stakeholders and receive internal buy-in to drive change within your company; and sustainability reporting trends. Moderated by Chad Gregory, president of the United Egg Producers, the conference ended with a joint egg and poultry supply chain commitment and panel discussion.

A large number of participants representing all aspects of IPWA/US-RSPE membership were in attendance, including farmers, integrators, processors, allied industry, brands, retail, foodservice, NGOs, and civil society. For more information about the US-RSPE / IPWA, contact Ryan Bennett.