Shareholder wants Smithfield to adopt green goals
By Tom Shean
© August 4, 2010http://hamptonroads.com/2010/08/shareholder-wants-smithfield-adopt-green-goals
A mutual-fund management firm with holdings of
Smithfield Foods Inc. stock is asking the pork
processor and hog-raising company to adopt
specific goals for reducing greenhouse gases from
its operations, including its hog farms.
Greenhouse gases, including those from livestock
operations, contribute heavily to global warming,
Calvert Asset Management Co. of Bethesda, Md.,
contended in a proxy statement for Smithfield's
annual shareholders meeting on Sept. 1.
However, "Smithfield, the world's largest
producer of pork, does not currently disclose the
climate change impact of its total operations,"
Calvert said in the document.
Calvert is seeking shareholder approval for a
resolution that would have Smithfield adopt
quantitative goals for cutting its greenhouse-gas
emissions and report to shareholders by February
on its plan. Part of Calvert's investment
strategy focuses on the social, ethical and
environmental practices of publicly traded
companies. The company said its Summit S&P Mid
Cap Index Portfolio owns 15,385 shares of
Smithfield recommended that shareholders vote
against the Calvert proposal, saying it already
tracks and reports certain emissions from its
operations. The Smithfield-based company said it
didn't report emissions from animal-related
sources because "there is no uniformly accepted
protocol for measuring, tracking and comparing
the carbon footprint of animals."
"More research and data is necessary before we
can begin to track the greenhouse gas emissions
from our animals in a manner that will generate
both accurate and meaningful information,"
Smithfield said. The company said it will revisit
the issue once a study of emissions and animal
production being conducted by the National Pork
Board is completed.
In another proposal being put to a shareholder
vote at Smithfield's annual meeting in
Williamsburg, the Humane Society of the United
States urges turkey producer Butterball LLC to
change the way it slaughters birds.
Smithfield owns a 49 percent stake in Butterball,
a Raleigh, N.C.-based joint venture with Maxwell
Farms Inc. of Goldsboro, N.C.
The Humane Society is calling for Butterball to
kill its birds with inert gas, known as a
"controlled atmosphere killing," instead of
shocking them with electrified water.
Smithfield asks that shareholders reject the
proposal, saying that too many questions about
the technique still have to be answered.
Separately, Smithfield reported a sharp rebound
in the compensation paid to its executives for
the fiscal year ended May 2. The compensation for
President and CEO C. Larry Pope jumped to $10.96
million from $1.95 million a year earlier because
of increases in stock and option awards, $1.5
million of non-equity compensation and a $4.5
million increase in pension and
deferred-compensation earnings. The compensation
paid to Pope and four other executives plunged in
fiscal 2009 due partly to declines in pension
values and earnings from deferred compensation.
Smithfield's shares closed Tuesday at $14.36, down $0.28.