Corporations can be socially responsible

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At the joint annual meeting of the American Dairy Science Association and the American Society of Animal Science this summer, the most famous animal scientist of them all — Temple Grandin — addressed the topic, “Can big corporations be socially responsible?”

But she didn’t really address the question head on. Most of her talk had to do with farms being open and transparent.

It wasn’t until the question-and answer period that someone reminded her of the title of her talk and the general conclusion was, yes, some corporations can be socially responsible.

I agree.

In late August, while attending the Cow Longevity Conference sponsored by DeLaval, social responsibility was one of the four pillars of discussion.

The other pillars included farm profitability, animal welfare and environmental sustainability.  It was obvious that DeLaval had gone to great expense bringing in experts and journalists from around the world to discuss these issues because it was the right thing to do.

It made perfect business sense, as well, because the issues of farm profitability, animal welfare, environmental sustainability and social responsibility are intrinsically linked.

I have found over and over again, when writing articles for the magazine, that farm profitability is linked to environmental sustainability, which is linked to social responsibility. For instance, we ran an article in August 2012 detailing how farms have saved money by installing energy-saving equipment, which is environmentally sustainable. A Nebraska producer figured he was saving more than $18,000 a year from a high-efficiency, low-temperature detergent for cleaning milk equipment and systems, along with more efficient lighting and an electric pump on a liquid manure irrigation system.

In another article, we looked at animal-welfare audit programs. These programs not only give farms added credibility with the public, they also provide the farms with ways to improve record-keeping procedures and overall cow comfort, which contributes to profitability.

Nutrition-wise, people are finding that tweaking the rations to reduce the amount of phosphorus fed (and excreted in the manure) not only helps the environment, but the financial bottom- line as well.

These topics are intrinsically linked!

Bottom-line: What’s good for the cows is good for the farmers. And with the public increasingly concerned about animal welfare, why not turn it into a positive and let the public know, “Yes, we do take good care of the cows because it is the right thing to do.”

DeLaval should be saluted for bringing people together to share ideas and disseminate the information around the globe.

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Neil Howie    
Cheshire UK  |  October, 09, 2013 at 04:37 AM

Farming livestock to produce human food utilises resources which could go directly to human consumption,even in extensive grazing systems in marginal environments.Those of us involved have a duty of care to all humanity to make the process as efficient as possible, as waste is, in effect, taking food away from the under nourished. Congratulations to the organisers of the event recorded here for addessing the issue.Animal science, nutrition, health management, genetics have all contributed to animals being key to producing human food, yet too many do not produce to their potential ,usually because their opportunities are compromised by lack of understanding of their basic animal physiology and sentient needs.Traditional measures of production efficiency have neglected to"ask the animals" how they are, herd lifetime production averages for dairy cows can indicate between herd differences and be used to motivate and monitor progress to efficiency which is associated with benefits in cow life expectancy and welfare.

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