Tyson Foods CEO Donnie Smith stressed the need for food producers to better define the benefits of modern agricultural production to meet the needs of an increasing world food demand at USPOULTRY's Financial Management Seminar last week.
Smith challenged the audience to become engaged, noting 5 million people die every year from undernourishment; and yet most consumers know little about food production or the benefits of modern agriculture.
"The first one to the microphone controls the conversation," Smith said during his opening remarks at the seminar. "Although different segments of agriculture may not agree on every issue, there are many issues we do agree on. We must sing with one voice as we teach the younger generation the benefits of modern agriculture practices," he said.
The remarks came after Smith had provided his perspective on the importance of financial management in the poultry industry.
"At Tyson, both finance and human resources are important members of the management team and are involved as strategic partners in setting the direction for the company. Finance serves a major role in assessing risks and opportunities, taking ownership of projects where possible and delivering data along with recommendations for improvement," said Smith.
He also stressed that it is equally important to cultivate talent within the finance function and throughout the organization.
The seminar brought together financial managers from the poultry and egg industry to discuss current issues impacting the industry. Election year politics and the uncertainty surrounding future policy decisions were the focus of several presentations including an economic update by Andrew Busch of BMO Harris Bank and tax and regulatory updates by Rob Gunter and Bob Childress of Frost LLC.
Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, gave a Washington update, highlighting the initial success of NCC's organization of a Congressional Chicken Caucus, currently approaching 50 members of the House, who support the industry and are the point group for actions by NCC on behalf of the industry.
Brown discussed the current Farm Bill reauthorization as everyone awaits the House version to be released. The Senate version meets Brown's opinion that "a successful farm bill is one that we are not in" -- suggesting that the less government intervention in our industry, the better. He also updated the attendees on the status of the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection rules proposed by the FSIS, with no further action expected until after the election.
Jerry Moye, President of Cobb-Vantress, looked at Global Poultry Trends from the breeding company perspective. He indicated that the industry has the lowest breeder flock supply since the 1990s, which suggests slow to no growth in the near term. However, Moye sees both Russia and India as major growth opportunities with Russia striving to be more self-sufficient and expand their industry and India's population and relatively low per capita consumption of poultry offering tremendous growth potential.
Other presentations included Farha Aslam of Stephens providing "An Analyst's Perspective of the Industry," an industry performance review from Mike Donohue of Agri Stats, and a consumer trends update from Brian Coan of Chick-fil-A. The seminar also featured the always popular break-out sessions on a variety of topics, from further processing metrics to accounts payable outsourcing.