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Investors urge four large meat producers to address water risks

Signal of change / Investors urge four large meat producers to address water risks

By Madhumitha Ardhanari / 21 Dec 2016
Investors representing over USD1 trillion in assets are urging four large meat producers - Cargill, JBS, Perdue Farms and Smithfield Foods - to share information with them on potential water contamination and scarcity in meat-processing facilities in the US. A major driver for this move is climate change and its resulting extreme weather events. In October this year, over a dozen manure lagoons linked to hog and chicken farms had overflowing banks due to Hurricane Matthew. This contaminated groundwater supply with bacteria and nitrogen.

So what?

Water insecurity is becoming increasingly prevalent and investors are beginning to take notice. While Tyson and Hormel Foods have looked into water risk for their shareholder proposals, this proactive move by investors shows how water risks are not just environmental in nature. They may affect the very business license to operate in the near future, due to heightened climate change and its related cascading impacts. However, what remains uncertain is how serious investors are - what might be the penalty for these companies which continue their groundwater supply? Will they divest from these meat operations if information fails to be reported?


What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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