Farming Practices

Antibiotics: Four proposals about the use of antibiotics in the food animal supply have been filed.

At Costco and Sanderson Farms, As You Sow withdrew at both companies after agreements. They had asks each for “an enterprise-wide policy to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics in its store brand meat and poultry supply chain, with an exception for treatment and non-routine control of diagnosed illness.” At Sanderson, which until last year challenged the idea that food animal antibiotics use presented harms to humans, the agreement came after growing investor support; a similar proposal earned 43.1 percent last year and 31.5 percent in 2017.

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Christy Spees
Environmental Health Program Manager, As You Sow

The meat and poultry industries have made significant progress in tackling antibiotic resistance over the past four years, encouraged by persistent shareholder engagement on this critical issue.

A Domino’s Pizza proposal seeks “a policy that sets national sourcing targets with timelines for pork and beef raised without the routine use of medically-important antibiotics for disease prevention purposes.” The company has lodged a challenge at the SEC, arguing it relates to ordinary business via micromanagement, but it also says the proposal is false and misleading in its statements about antibiotics and the meat supply chain. The argument invokes SEC Staff Legal Bulletin 14J and its definition of ordinary business.

Proponents at McDonald’s also want “an enterprise-wide policy to phase out the use of medically important antibiotics for disease prevention purposes in its beef and pork supply chains.” The proponents withdrew a very similar proposal in 2018 after the company indicated it would announce an antibiotics use policy for its beef supply chain by the end of 2018. The company had challenged the resolution at the SEC, but the withdrawal came before any SEC response. Similar earlier proposals earned 31 percent in 2017 and 26.3 percent in 2016. The company has pledged to end the use of antibiotics for chickens but has been slow to extend the prohibition to beef and pork, which have more complex supply chains.

Pesticides: Just one resolution about pesticides has appeared in 2019, at PepsiCo, where it has come up repeatedly in the past. As You Sow wants the company to report on “quantitative metrics demonstrating measurable progress toward the reduction of synthetic chemical pesticide use in the Company’s supply chain.” The proposal suggests the requested report should include a risk assessment about current pesticide use, metrics for tracking crops treated with synthetic pesticides and information about any growth in using integrated pest management.

PepsiCo has challenged the proposal at the SEC, arguing it is moot given its existing sustainable agriculture policy and disclosure about integrated pest management incidence. Last year, As You Sow filed and then withdrew a pesticides proposal at the company after a company challenge.