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0509 PD: 3 Open minutes with Joyce Cacho

Published on 13 March 2009

Why is it important for a company to have a sustainability officer?

CACHO: A sustainability officer serves as a beacon to align corporate strategies and the various business units behind the sustainability program.

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Define what sustainability is in your view.

CACHO: A sustainability project or program or practice encompasses three things: Protecting the environment, benefiting societies and having a positive economic impact, which addresses the issues of profits and performance. What are the first sustainability action areas you will focus on? CACHO: I’m particularly interested in focusing on people and “capacity building” from a science base to look at innovation and its role in terms of generating new ideas and being receptive to new ideas in all the senses of sustainability.

What is capacity building?

CACHO: For dairy producers that gets to the heart of training and understanding what exactly feed can do for their operations. Feed needs to help the farmer with addressing not only the nutritional profile, simply the nutrition of the animal, but also the health of the animal. So if one looks at capacity building as moving beyond one’s current comfort zone and learning more about what a feed product can do for your most valuable asset as a dairy farmer, which is a cow, then one has moved on from exploring feed separate from health-care products. That is what I would refer to as a two-for – feed that also contributes to oxidative balance and health aspects.

What areas of sustainability do you see as feasible for dairy producers?

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CACHO: Typically if you are a dairy producer, you have your feed resources, your veterinary resources, you have quite a portfolio of inputs and person inputs into your operation. If you know what’s going on in your dairy operation from a veterinary point of view, from a feed point of view, from a cow comfort point of view, surveying helps ask, “Can I possibly combine those relationships into one deeper relationship with one person?” Rather than have an inefficient set of relationships with five to six people you can reduce that down to three to four.

How will you help producers see positive value, not added cost, in sustainability?

CACHO: I actually think that in these difficult economic times across all industries we have to prioritize what will position us for not only surviving this downturn but better position us for the upturn. We must identify what are the kind of relationships that will give me business strength for the long haul. That’s when one looks at sustainability in a positive light.

You’ve recently worked as a consultant for farmers in Africa. What lessons can U.S. producers learn from them?

CACHO: That the strong survive. I know they would understand and they would appreciate that the farmer in Africa is managing all of the same risks with fewer opportunities to help mitigate those risks. I’m talking about everything from the public platform to having technology and companies such as Novus to help them manage risk on- farm. So believe it or not they have a lot in common with the African farmer in terms of the risks that they face. PD

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