Supply chain challenges. Labor shortages. Sustainability pressures. Market volatility. These are a few phrases we’ve all heard on the news frequently this year.
Ruth Kimmelshue, Corporate Senior Vice President leading Cargill Animal Nutrition, shares her global take on these issues from a pork industry perspective.
Kimmelshue shared her background as a fifth-generation family farmer from a northern California almond and edible bean farm, with family roots in Illinois, as well as various roles she has held in the Cargill organization. Cargill brings 157 years of ag industry expertise with locations in more than 70 countries, with the Animal Nutrition segment dating back to 1893.
Not Your Grandfather’s Feed Company
“The technology that is coming into the feed industry, the advances that we are making, and the challenges that we are facing are really quite remarkable as it relates to the opportunities that we can lean in to and some of the challenges that we have to address.”Ruth Kimmelshue, Corporate Senior Vice President leading Cargill Animal Nutrition
Perspective on Sustainability
- Amid criticism of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the food and agriculture sector needs to tell its story more effectively and articulate how farmers and livestock producers continue to do what they’ve always done, which is produce more food to feed a growing world population with less inputs.
- Cargill has identified four areas — climate, land, water and farmer livelihoods — that regardless of where the company operates in the world, it can positively impact. The company is looking at each area to measure impact and set goals and working with stakeholders across the industry to collectively identify potential solutions.
- Programs that are already having a positive impact on sustainability include regenerative agriculture practices for raising crops, reducing and capturing methane emissions in animal agriculture, and SeaFurther™ program that reduces the carbon footprint of salmon production.
Technology + Collaboration
“It takes technology and it takes patience, and it is going to take multiple components and efforts. There is not a silver bullet to address some of the challenges we have as it relates to sustainability, but working together, what we have seen and what we believe is that we will continue to make progress.”Ruth Kimmelshue
Sustainability of Agriculture in the Future
- Cargill has set commitments to reduce GHG emissions in its own facilities by 10% by 2030 and in its supply chain by 30% by 2030.
- Progress in last 10-15 years is evident with adoption of regenerative practices, wind energy and solar panels in U.S. agriculture.
- As a privately-owned company, Cargill has the opportunity to invest in projects or companies that may deliver future returns. One example is insect proteins that have interesting attributes that could replace animal proteins in feed, such as soldier flies and mealworms to replace fishmeal in salmon feed or oil in swine feed.
Reduction in Carbon Emissions
“When you hear people talk about the commitments they are making for reduction in carbon emissions for example, lots of people are setting goals that are 10, 15, 20, 30 years out … for me that seems like a long time, the question always is, what are you doing now, recognizing that part of those commitments involves new technology that is yet to present itself, new practices, new processes, new approaches.”Ruth Kimmelshue
Role of Technology
- Agriculture has always adopted technology to improve productivity. U.S. corn yields have increased from 125 bushels per acre in the mid-1980s to about 225 bushels per acre now, which improves sustainability by producing more on the same amount of land.
- Data analytics provides exciting opportunity to unlock the power of data to create tailored solutions for each farmer.
- Investments in new technologies and adjacent markets such as alternative proteins offer opportunity to understand what consumers are looking for in product attributes and traceability.
Better Outcomes From Data Analysis
“The more we learn about data, the more we learn about our ability to analyze the data, the more valuable we see that it is.
One thing we’re doing in our animal nutrition business is helping producers put together the data they have at their fingertips — to capture that data, to analyze that data, and to use that analysis to create insights that will produce better outcomes. That’s a really exciting new space for us.”Ruth Kimmelshue
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Being inclusive and opening the “big tent” of agriculture to as many people and perspectives as possible is key to bringing new voices and good ideas for sustainability and productivity across the industry, especially as labor shortages negatively impact hog producers, feed millers, meat processors and many others.
Everyone Is Welcome In Agriculture
“I encourage all of us to work together to make sure that all people feel welcome under the big tent. There is plenty of work to do. There is plenty of opportunity for all of us, and it is exciting to see what the future will look like as we continue to increase the inclusion and diversity of agriculture.”Ruth Kimmelshue