Each year, I send out a note on Earth Day. The main reason is that the day has a special meaning to me. I remember the original Earth Day back in 1970, and while much has changed since then (thankfully, even my hairstyle), some things have not. The original Earth Day was all about making a difference. That thought still motivates many of us today. Even back then, we knew that change wasn’t easy—it doesn’t happen overnight, and is never as thorough or painless as we would like–but it is possible.
I’ve been able to witness quite a bit of that type of change here at Smithfield since I joined the company back in 2001. We’ve come a long way from being known as a bad actor for our environmental record, to leading the industry by becoming the first to be ISO 14001 certified, and not getting a single notice of violation from the government on any of our farms for over 4 years. Our notices of violation at our plants have also been dramatically reduced, and we’ve also reduced our energy use, water use, and solid wastes quite a bit. It hasn’t been easy, but real and lasting change never is. It takes the dedication and creativity of many people working together for a common goal to accomplish what we’ve been able to these last few years. I’m very proud of how far we’ve come as a company. But I’ll also be the first to tell you that we are not perfect, and are nowhere near finished. We still have lots of work to do and will continue to push forward over the months and years ahead.
My message to you on this Earth Day 2014 is to “keep the faith.” There are likely many things you hope to change in your life, in your community, in your workplace, and in the environment. Change is slow, but it often starts with the ideas, dedication, and hard work of one individual. You have the power and the responsibility to make a difference, which is simultaneously both empowering and sobering. You cannot change everything, but you do have the ability and responsibility to change something for the better, and to make a difference. I encourage you not to ignore this fact, and to take some time today to think about how you can be an agent of positive change in your workplace and in your personal life over the coming months and years.
Dennis H. Treacy
EVP & Chief Sustainability Officer
Smithfield Foods, Inc.