Texan by Nature is excited to recognize Wayne-Sanderson Farms as a 2023 TxN 20 honoree for their leadership in conservation and sustainability. Wayne-Sanderson Farm’s commitment to conservation, their projects, programs, best practices, and lessons learned are an example and inspiration for us all.
As the nation’s third-largest poultry producer, our more than 26,000 team members and over 2,000 family farmers are dedicated to delivering high-quality, affordable poultry products to customers and consumers around the world. By leveraging our strong operating culture and industry-leading teams, the company is committed to the safety and success of our team members, family farmers, and communities.We aim to meet the demand for affordable and nutritious proteins while also prioritizing animal welfare, environmental stewardship, and community engagement.
Honoree Industry and Size: Agriculture – Enterprise
What is Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ conservation and sustainability mission and why is it important to your culture?
Wayne-Sanderson Farms values encompass the core values of integrity, innovation, respect for people, customer service, teamwork, leadership, performance, and stewardship. In particular, the core value of stewardship guides Wayne-Sanderson Farms and our employees to give of ourselves in order to serve the needs of our communities and people in need. This company value also requires us to be good stewards of the environment and the animals we raise.
At Wayne-Sanderson Farms, we believe strongly in protecting the air we breathe, the water that supports life and the land where we live. As a company intent upon producing chicken responsibly, we fully understand our obligation to do our part to protect the environment by conserving natural resources, recycling and reusing resources utilized in our operation, and creating renewable resources for use in our facilities through innovative technologies.
It is an honor to be recognized by Texan by Nature for the fourth consecutive year for the company’s conservation and sustainability efforts at our operations in Texas. As a company intent upon producing chicken responsibly, we fully understand our obligation to do our part to protect the environment by conserving natural resources, recycling and reusing resources utilized in our operation, and creating renewable resources for use in our facilities through innovative technologies.
– Clint Rivers, President and Chief Executive Officer for Wayne-Sanderson Farms
How is conservation and sustainability a part of Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ business strategy?
In early 2020, Wayne-Sanderson Farms launched the “Amazing Starts With Me” program and the four pillars that lay the foundation of our business. It reminds us that every action and choice we make around our people, planet, animals and food makes an impact, for better or worse. To be the amazing chicken company means that every member must keep what it takes to be amazing top of mind, in everything they do. Whether giving to our communities, developing new leaders for tomorrow, caring for our animals, preserving our planet or embracing diversity, we are committed to openly sharing where we’re at and what we’re doing to improve.
As a result of improved animal husbandry, superior grow-out houses and advances in genetics, today’s chickens more efficiently convert the feed they eat into muscle, which is referred to as “feed conversion.” With optimal feed conversion for chickens compared to other protein sources, a reduced amount of feed is required for healthy growth, which ultimately results in fewer acreage needed to grow the main ingredients in chicken feed such as corn and soybeans.
Compared to slower growing chicken breeds such as those raised without any antibiotics ever, conventionally-raised chickens require 186,000 less tons of feed per one million broiler chickens, which equates to 3.5 million less tons of feed across all Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ operations. In addition, conventional chickens require 80 million less gallons of water and 86,000 less acres of land for growing feed ingredients per one million broiler chickens, which equates to 1.5 billion less gallons of water and 1.6 million less acres of land for growing feed ingredients across all Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ operations.
Prior to the formation of Wayne-Sanderson Farms, the Wayne Farms company had identified three sustainability goals for 2025, which Wayne-Sanderson Farms achieved in advance during fiscal year 2024. In fiscal year 2024, the company achieved the previously identified goal of 50% offset recycling from landfills across all Wayne Farms facilities. In addition, the company achieved the goal of capturing, reconditioning, and reusing 15% of our water at all Wayne Farms facilities by 2025. Wayne-Sanderson Farms also achieved the goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity by 10% at all Wayne Farms facilities.
What are Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ short and long-term goals as they relate to conservation and sustainability? As Wayne-Sanderson Farms continues to integrate the diverse operations of our new company, we will assess and align the sustainability reporting metrics of our two legacy companies over the next year and set new goals for sustainable operation for the coming years. Collecting and verifying data will be our primary short-term goal to ensure both legacy companies have complete and accurate environmental data to report for fiscal year 2024.
Following the completion of data acquisition, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, and landfill use will be calculated and evaluated, permitting the establishment of annual goals until a strategy for Science-Based Targets is announced for subsequent years. In the interim period until those Science-Based Targets are identified, we will continue to evaluate water usage and water reduction projects, biogas opportunities and electricity usage at all of our complexes.
Utility reductions, evaluations and sustainability success stories will be available for fiscal year 2024. Wayne-Sanderson Farms will also contract with a third party in fiscal year 2024 to perform a materiality assessment for the entire company, a water stress assessment for all complexes, and a water stress assessment for our combined feed supply.
Wayne–Sanderson Farms’ employees practice sustainability efforts by participating in company initiatives designed to encourage conservation of natural resources both at work and at home.
Who at Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ is leading your conservation and sustainability efforts and what are some examples of employee engagement in conservation and sustainability at your company?
Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ conservation and sustainability efforts are led by Paul Billingsley, Vice President of Development and Engineering and his management team, which is comprised of Stephanie Shoemaker, Senior Director of Environmental for Permitting and Regulatory; Dwayne Holifield, Senior Director of Environmental Operations; Brandy Mount, Senior Environmental Manager; Robert Weeks, Senior Environmental Manager; BJ Kerr, Senior Environmental Manager; and Rian McMorris, Senior Environmental Manager.
In fiscal year 2023, select company facilities partnered with Enterprise to offer an employee commute program where the company provides vehicles for employees to get to and from work. The rideshare program reduced commuter miles driven to work and reduced the amount of CO2 generated from employee commutes. Within the fiscal year, over 10.2 million commuter miles were saved by employees, resulting in a cost savings of over $5.5 million and a reduction of more than 7.7 million pounds of CO2 at select facilities.
In addition, Wayne-Sanderson Farms employees are engaged in various paperless initiatives including committing to paperless operation by the end of fiscal year 2024. To date since 2021, the company has eliminated over 1,000 pounds of waste including more than 48,000 pages of paper by transitioning to digital document review systems. That savings alone saved over 6,000 pounds of wood, more than 19,000 gallons of water and reduced carbon emissions by over 15,000 pounds.
Wayne–Sanderson Farms utilizes a portion of our wastewater treatment process to generate renewable energy by capturing and refining biogas. In an anaerobic lagoon, the biogas is captured and piped to a Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) System where it is treated to produce pipeline-quality natural gas and utilized in the facility as a renewable energy source.
What conservation and sustainability programs and projects does Wayne-Sanderson Farms lead and participate in?
Wayne-Sanderson Farms embraces recycling and reuse programs for waste metals, woods, plastics, cardboard and chicken by-products. In addition, Wayne-Sanderson Farms continually strives to identify alternative avenues for waste management, and we aim to increase our landfill avoidance moving forward.
In the poultry industry, our processes drive the demand for water. Water is a precious resource, and recycling water decreases the amount taken from sensitive ecosystems. Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ innovative wastewater treatment and state-of-the-art water renovation systems provide clean and carefully tested water back to our environment.
Recognizing that our plant and feed mill operations consume the majority of energy across all facilities, the company is continually striving to lower our impact on the environment by using energy-efficient equipment and employing good manufacturing practices that reduce energy consumption. In addition, we utilize a portion of our wastewater treatment process to generate renewable energy by capturing and refining biogas.
By utilizing Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) systems, our facilities produce biogas refined to pipeline quality natural gas to be reused in our facilities and provide significant natural gas savings at those facilities. In fiscal year 2023, Wayne-Sanderson Farms produced more than 329,000 MMBTUs of biogas, which would supply the natural gas necessary to operate our Waco, Texas complex; Palestine, Texas complex; and Hammond, Louisiana processing facility for an entire year.
In addition to energy conservation, our sustainability strategy continuously monitors and evaluates all sources of greenhouse gases to identify potential opportunities for increased efficiency and reduced emissions. This includes Scope 1 and 2 emissions resulting from fuel combusted in processing plants, liquid CO2 and dry ice used in product packaging for refrigeration, electricity purchased for operations, biogas that is combusted or flared at 17 facilities, wastewater treatment lagoons, as well as fuel combusted by company-owned jet and fleet vehicles.
How do you see the future of conservation and sustainability evolving, and what role will your company play in that progress?
By 2050, the world’s population is expected to increase by more than 35 percent, which means food producers like us will need to feed two billion more people in the world. For a growing population, chicken is one of the most sustainable and affordable protein sources on the market because chickens convert feed ingredients to meat more efficiently than other species of animals. No other animal protein source can yield 10,000 pounds of salable meat for every 2.3 acres of harvested soybeans and 1.6 acres of harvested corn.
According to the USDA, in the 1940s, the average farmer fed only 19 people, while in today’s world, the average farmer produces enough food to feed 165 people for an entire year. Back then, the average chicken raised for food weighed just 2.89 pounds. Today’s average broiler chicken, in comparison, weighs approximately 6.18 pounds at market weight as a result of shifting consumer preferences and years of selective breeding by poultry scientists.
In order to continue feeding America’s families with a sustainable, affordable and nutritious protein source like chicken for generations to come, we must focus our operations on efficiency, conservation, reuse, recycling and renewable resources. Through continued innovation and improvement on our current programs and processes, agribusinesses such as ours can help to reduce hunger and food insecurity while ensuring our operations leave the environment in the areas in which we operate better than we found it and our communities stronger than when we joined them.
How does your company quantify investment and return on conservation and sustainability?
In fiscal year 2022, the company’s financial return on conservation and sustainability efforts included over $2,300,000 in biogas savings by offsetting the cost of purchasing natural gas at the company’s processing facilities in Collins, Mississippi; Kinston, North Carolina; St. Pauls, North Carolina; Moultrie, Georgia; Palestine, Texas; Waco, Texas; and Tyler, Texas.
Secondly, the company received a financial return on our conservation investment in water reuse systems by offsetting the purchase of water by over 1,387,584,000 gallons saved per year through reuse water in 2022 and over 1,217 million gallons of water applied back to groundwater by land treatment in 2022.
Thirdly, the company saved 226,466 kWhs of electricity in calendar year 2022 due to utilizing energy-efficient LED lighting in select processing facilities.
Finally, Sanderson Farms generated more than 324,000 MMBTUs of renewable energy or biogas, which conserved natural gas by reducing the volume of natural gas purchased in our facilities by the same amount in calendar year 2021.
An effective sustainability strategy requires investing significant company resources, but the return on the investment not only justifies or exceeds the initial investment, it is worthwhile simply because it is “the right thing” to do for our shareholders, employees, family farmers, customers and communities. At Sanderson Farms, we do “the right thing,” no matter how challenging it may be.
What is the one lesson that your company has learned from your conservation and sustainability efforts that others can take back and think about applying within their own space?
The entire Wayne-Sanderson Farms family works as a team to meet our environmental responsibility. We realize that our prospects to continue our profitable growth lie within the strength of our people- people who know, understand and commit to making efficient and responsible choices for our operations.
We also know that efficiencies translate into strong, long-term support of our environment and natural resources. This combination of a desire for efficient operations and a commitment to further improvement provides a strong foundation for continued achievement across all of our locations and continued success for all of our employees and stakeholders.
Why is Texas an important home or base of operations for your Wayne-Sanderson Farms?
Since our first plant was constructed in Bryan, Texas in 1997, the state of Texas has been an excellent state to conduct business in for our company, which is why we constructed an additional three state-of-the-art poultry complexes in Waco, Palestine and Tyler, Texas. Our greenfield expansion strategy and due diligence process evaluates many aspects of a local area including available labor and natural resources, and our business partners in Texas have been key to making our Texas-based poultry complexes successful over the years.
Learn more about Wayne-Sanderson Farms’ conservation and sustainability efforts here.
With nearly 6,000 employees based in Texas of the total 25,600 people employed by Wayne-Sanderson Farms.
Through financial investments in water reuse systems each year.
Through energy-efficient alternatives in 2022. Additionally, 524 metric tons of non-food waste recycled in 2022 in Texas operations alone.
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas