University of Arkansas Faculty Lead Poultry Sustainability Summit at International Conference

Professors Marty Matlock and Greg Thoma.
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Professors Marty Matlock and Greg Thoma.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – University of Arkansas professors Marty Matlock and Greg Thoma led a sustainability workshop at the 2015 International Production and Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia last week.  Matlock, executive director of the U of A Office for Sustainability, and Greg Thoma, the Bates Teaching Professor in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering, led the Animal Agriculture Sustainability Summit during the poultry industry’s largest trade show. 

Matlock presented the sustainability framework developed by the University of Arkansas sustainability research team over the past five years. The team worked with Field to Market: The Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, the U.S. Soybean Export Council, the U.S. Dairy Research Institute, the National Pork Board and the National Institute of Animal Agriculture. 

The framework emphasizes a continuous improvement strategy in which stakeholders across the supply chain set sustainability goals and work to achieve them. Strategies are developed working with stakeholders, and implemented at the farm level, and measured regularly. If goals are not being reached, the strategy is adapted to incorporate new technologies, approaches, and practices. Matlock reported that this approach creates a cycle of innovation and improvement that increases efficiency of operations while decreasing negative environmental impacts.

Thoma summarized results of life cycle assessments performed by the University of Arkansas sustainability research team, saying that to be effective sustainability analyses must be grounded in scientific methodologies and that the data must be transparent, validated, widely available and inexpensive. Thoma also stressed that the same data and models should be used across the entire supply chain, including producers, processors, retailers, policymakers, and nongovernmental organizations.

The Sustainability Summit was sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association,  the North American Meat Institute and U.S. Poultry and Egg Association.

Matlock also led a panel discussion with leaders from Tyson Foods, JBS USA, Butterball LLC, and GNP Company. The panel members answered questions from participating producers, representatives of federal agencies, retailers, restraint trade organizations, and consumer advocates. Following the workshop Matlock and Thoma were interviewed by Poultry Health Today; the interview is available online.

The International Production and Processing Expo represents the entire chain of protein production and processing regularly drawing over 30,000 attendees and more than 1,100 exhibitors. It is held each January in Atlanta, Georgia.


Marty D. Matlock, executive director
Office for Sustainability

Greg Thoma, Bates Teaching Professor
Ralph E. Martin Dept. of Chemical Engineering

Steve Voorhies, manager of media relations
University Relations


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