About » INTENSIVE LIVESTOCK INDUSTRY VERSUS CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Thedefinition of intensive livestock production provided in Chapter 1explicitly mentions thatintensive livestock farms operate asagricultural conglomerates (agro-conglomerates), i.e. multi-agentcapital groups, especially in the highly developed countries of WesternEurope and the US. Internationalization of agro-conglomerates can beseen as an inevitable consequence of progressive globalization, asevidenced in the operations of the US-based Smithfield Foods (Animex Sp.z o.o., Agri Plus Sp. z o.o., Prima Farms Sp. z o.o.) and theDenmark-based AXZON Group (Poldanor SA) in Poland.

Large-scaleintensive livestock production involves not only logistic problems, butalso significantly increases the risks for the natural environment andrural communities. This can be proved by numerous irregularities in theoperations of large-scale livestock farms belonging to multinationalcompanies, revealed during inspections by the Supreme Chamber of ControlNIK and the Chief Environmental Protection Inspectorate (absence offertilisation plans approved by chemical-agricultural stations, defaultin the payment of emissions charges, irregularities in obtainingintegrated permits, overdue payments of environmental fees, absence ofwaste disposal agreements, incorrect storage of animal carcasses,incorrect veterinary records, absence of building permits andunauthorized adaptations of buildings, defaults in the application andstorage of natural fertilisers, including slurry disposal directly todrainage ditches). Environmental nuisance frequently affects localcommunities residing in close vicinity to large-scale livestock farms,giving rise to controversies and protests. The scale of the problem canbe seen from the number of social initiatives, including Zakończ chów wielkoprzemysłowy [Stop Intensive Livestock Production]  (The Viva Foundation), Kwik rozpaczy [The Squeak of Despair](The Viva Foundation), Food from Farms not Factories (Tracy Worcester), and press articles: Te amerykańskie świnie [Those American pigs] (NIE Weekly, 4/2008), Świnia trojańska [The Trojan Pig] (NIE Weekly, 10/2000), "Świński interes" zagraża polskiemu rolnictwu [The pig business vs. Polish agriculture] (INTERIA.PL, 09.02.2011), Wielkoprzemysłowe farmy ekologiczną bombą [Large-scale livestock farms ? a ticking ecological bomb] (Zielone Brygady, 2003), Wolna amerykanka świńskich gigantów [Anything goes for pig conglomerates] (Nasz Dziennik, 7/2008), Kto zatrzyma Smithfielda? [Who stops Smithfield?] (Zielone Brygady, 2003).

In order to improve their corporate image, large-scale livestock farms may refer to Corporate Social Responsibility(CSR) strategies as a means to protect social interests, theenvironment and relations with various stakeholders. With respect toagriculture, the term Socially Responsible Agriculture (SRA) is often used.

Corporatesocial responsibility is a management strategy which makes room forsocial dialogue at local levels; it helps increase globalcompetitiveness of enterprises and creates conditions for sustainablesocial and economic development.By employing corporate socialresponsibility methods, enterprises manage their relations with variousstakeholders, which can be considered an investment rather than expense,as is the case with quality management. Corporate social responsibilityinvolves strategic, long-term and voluntary commitments to invest inhuman resources, environmental protection and relationship with thesurrounding environment. Commissioning of agricultural biogas plants byPOLDANOR can be mentioned as an example of CSR measures.

Undersocial corporate responsibility related to the idea of CleanerProduction (CP), large-scale production farms undertake to fulfilVoluntary Ecological Commitments (VEC) and the International Declarationon Cleaner Production under the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP).

CleanerProduction is an environmental protection strategy which consists incontinuous, integrated, preventive activities targeted at processes,products and services, intended to increase production and serviceeffectiveness and to reduce risk for humans and the natural environment.The idea of Cleaner Production is in opposition to the approach basedon mitigating consequences of environmental impact of production.Recovery in the context of Cleaner Production is the final measure takenif all other measures offered by CP fail. Waste-free production andrespecting the environmental discharge/emissions limits are the basicassumptions of Cleaner Production. CP is the process of production andservice management and control for preventing and limiting waste ofresources, labour, raw materials, materials and energy.

TheInternational Declaration of Cleaner Production is a voluntary andpublic statement of commitment to implement and promote theenvironmental management strategy based on the Cleaner Productionphilosophy to broaden the environmental awareness, understanding of theconcepts of pollution prevention, and to boost demand for cleanerproduction. The Declaration was formulated in 1999 at the UNEP GoverningCouncil meeting in Nairobi.

VoluntaryEcological Commitments (VEC) were introduced in 1996 by the PolishCleaner Production Society to supplement the existing environmentalprotection regulations, or more specifically, emission limits andenvironmental fees imposed according to the ?polluter pays? principle.

TheVoluntary Ecological Commitments (VEC) strategy covers ecological,social and ethical aspects of business activities followed in contactswith the stakeholders (employees, clients, local community,shareholders, suppliers, local governments). This is tantamount toprioritising measures to prevent waste of resources, limiting pollutionand balancing effectiveness and profitability vs. social interest inbusiness activities. VEC is therefore an important and quantifiable(although declarative) contribution to the fulfilment of the idea ofsustainable development (sustainable production and consumption).

Voluntaryenvironmental protection initiatives are one of many UNEP initiativesintended to help enterprises select individual ways and methods topursue the goals of the state environmental policy. The degree and scopeto which VEC are formalised can vary, but the basic idea behind VEC isto continuously reduce environmental impact according to internalindividual corporate strategies reflecting the underlying environmentalpolicy of the State. 

VECalso covers social commitments, listed in the United Nations GlobalImpact published by the Secretary General.This UN initiativeencourages businesses to support, accept and use, in all spheres oftheir activity, 9 fundamental principles of human rights, labourstandards, and environment. These nine principles are as follows: interms of human rights, businesses should support and respect theprotection of internationally proclaimed human rights (1), to make surethat they are not complicit in human rights abuses (2), in terms oflabour standards, businesses should uphold the freedom of associationand the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining (3),the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour (4), theeffective abolition of child labour (5), the elimination ofdiscrimination in employment and occupation (6), in terms of theenvironment, businesses should support a precautionary approach toenvironmental challenges (7), undertake initiatives to promoteenvironmental responsibility (8), and encourage the development anddiffusion of environmentally friendly technologies.

Toimplement the Voluntary Ecological Commitments for Cleaner Production, abusiness should submit an application featuring a voluntary statementon the implementation of the Cleaner Production Strategy to itsmanagement system, an environmental protection policy, list ofecological accomplishments and pro-environmental investments, and theaction plan for the years to come. 

Aftersubmitting the application and successful completion of the applicationprocedure at the Polish Cleaner Production Centre, the applyingbusiness receives a Cleaner Production Certificate and, following 2years, it is entered in the Polish Register of Cleaner Production andResponsible Entrepreneurship (PRCPiOP) by the Committee of the CPRegister presided over by the Minister of Economy. The CleanerProduction Certificate means that the company has been operating anenvironmental management system according to the Cleaner ProductionStrategy, and that CP logo can be placed on its products. Followingentry in the CP Register, the company is committed to submit annualecological reports on environmental management.

Applicationsfor registration can be submitted by businesses which implemented andoperate according to the Cleaner Production Strategy, demonstrated tohave been systematically reducing environmental impact, operatedaccording to the Polish environmental protection laws, submitted theecological reports on time, and signed the UNEP InternationalDeclaration of Cleaner Production.Following registration, a CompanyCard is published on an annual basis to demonstrate the company?sprogress. The Environment Management Strategy (EMS) based on the Cleaner Production Strategy can become the basis for implementing the ISO 14001standard (international environmental management standard).

CorporateCommunity Involvement/Investment (CCI) has a more restricted meaning ascompared to the corporate social responsibility, and means addressingsocial issues and active involvement in solving social problems. CCIincludes financial assistance (supporting education of children andadolescents in rural areas ? the Animex Foundation, supporting bottom-upsocial initiatives 'Działajmy razem' [Let's Act Together] by POLDANOR),in-kind assistance, or voluntary work.

Corporatesocial involvement can be beneficial for both, local communities andbusinesses, specifically by building a positive public image of thecorporation and consolidating business credibility.

 

Federacja Zielonych GAJA
5 Lipca 45, 70-374 Szczecin, Poland
Phone. +48 91 489 42 33
Fax + 48 91 489 42 32
fzbiuro@gajanet.pl


Coalition Clean Baltic
Östra Ågatan 53
SE-753 22 Uppsala, Sweden
SHORT ABOUT THE PROJECT

Project Industrial animal farms in the Baltic Sea Region - sustainable practices to reduce nutrient loads is a part of a long-term campaign of the Coalition Clean Baltic and Green Federation "GAJA", aiming to reduce the negative impact of large-scale animal production on the environment and local communities in the Baltic Sea Region, particularly by reducing nutrient run-off into the sea. The project is part-financed by the European Union. This website reflects only the view of the Coalition Clean Baltic. The Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME) is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.