ABHMS garners support for water-stewardship proposal to Tyson Foods

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 2/21/17)—At Tyson Food Inc.’s annual general meeting in Springdale, Ark., on Feb. 9, American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) garnered growing support for a resolution that urges the food company to adopt a water-stewardship policy. As lead filer, ABHMS was joined in presenting the resolution by six other Tyson shareholders, several of which, like ABHMS, share a commitment to socially responsible investing as members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

The resolution received 14.65 percent of the votes cast for and against the resolution by Tyson shareholders—an increase from 11.8 percent in 2016. When family ownership is set side, the resolution received 59 percent of the votes, indicating that a majority of shareholders outside the Tyson Limited Partnership (TLP) favor adoption of a water policy. TLP includes Tyson family members and their trusts that own more than 72 percent of Tyson shares.

Tyson has faced litigation and a number of significant water-contamination fines related to waste disposal and chicken litter runoff at contract farms; nutrient runoff from fertilizer at farms that provide feed; wastewater from more than 100 processing and slaughtering facilities; and water contamination associated with commodity-based raw materials used in prepared foods. For years, ABHMS and other shareholders have consistently engaged in dialogue with Tyson about these concerns.

“We engage Tyson Foods because we believe that companies have a commitment to respect the U.N. Human Right to Water and Sanitation and to help achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals,” says Michaele Birdsall, ABHMS deputy executive director, chief financial officer and treasurer. “When companies like Tyson pollute waterways with toxins in manure, this can affect the quality of drinking water for nearby residents or lead to algal blooms that hurt the safety of our water and fish.

“We urge all companies,” she continues, “to operate in ways that do no harm to the communities around their facilities and the farms in their supply chains, specifically so that communities have access to water that is available in sufficient quantity, safe, physically acceptable and affordable. We have identified Tyson for this engagement because it has faced hefty fines and litigation around water pollution in the past, which impacts it financially and harms its reputation.”

A similar resolution was presented at Tyson’s 2016 annual general meeting by ABHMS board member the Rev. Dr. Robert Scott and ABHMS SRI consultant Sister Pat Daly, OP, of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment.

 American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists in answering God’s call to promote Christian faith across the United States and Puerto Rico to cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and heal and transform communities, by developing aligned action networks and programs.

 American Baptist Churches is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.