Tyson Foods, Inc.: Request for Report on Adopting and Implementing a Water Stewardship Policy

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WHEREAS: Corporations have a responsibility to respect human rights within company-owned operations and through business relationships under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.[1] To meet this responsibility, companies are expected to conduct human rights due diligence, informed by the core international human rights instruments, to assess, identify, prevent, and mitigate adverse human rights impacts.[2]

Industrial meat production exposes workers, farmers, and communities to actual and potential adverse human rights impacts. Inadequate regulatory frameworks do not sufficiently protect against these impacts. Poultry processing workers face serious labor rights violations, including injuries from unsafe line speeds and other hazards, exposure to toxins, wage and hour violations, sexual harassment, and workplace discrimination. Factory farming contributes to economic struggles for contract growers and family farmers, exploitation of migrant farmworkers, and occupational health and safety risks. Monoculture farming to grow animal feed requires heavy use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, impacting human health, soil and water quality, and biodiversity. An estimated 99% of U.S. farm animals are raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which release high levels of toxic pollutants from animal waste into the water and air.

Tyson faces community resistance to the expansion of its operations and footprint to meet growing demand for protein.  In 2017, community protests in Kansas prevented construction of a new poultry processing plant, citing concerns about Tyson’s history of water pollution incidents and inadequate community consultation.[3] A proactive assessment of Tyson’s salient human rights risks, informed by meaningful stakeholder consultation, would mitigate adverse human rights impacts and threats to the company’s social license to operate and business opportunities. 

While Tyson commits to respect human rights in its Code of Conduct and Supplier Code, adoption of principles is only the first step in effectively managing human rights risks.Tyson committed to improve working conditions in 2017, but does not comprehensively report on implementation, monitoring efforts, or improvements in workers’ ability to exercise their rights.[4] Tyson’s sustainability initiatives, which include a Social Baseline Study and land stewardship target, do not address all of Tyson’s human rights impacts or cover the entire value chain. Tyson has yet to disclose progress towards implementing these efforts, or how they will be factored into business decisions, growth, and supplier expectations, to ensure they are embedded throughout the business. 

BE IT RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board of Directors prepare a report, at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information, on Tyson’s human rights due diligence process to assess, identify, prevent and mitigate actual and potential human rights impacts.   

SUPPORTING STATEMENT: The report should: 

  • Include the human rights principles used to frame its risk assessments;

  • Outline the human rights impacts of Tyson’s business activities, including company-owned operations, contract growers, and supply chain and plans to mitigate them;

  • Explain the types and extent of stakeholder consultation; and

  • Address Tyson’s plans to track effectiveness of measures to assess, prevent, mitigate, and remedy adverse human rights impacts.

[1]https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/GuidingPrinciplesBusinessHR_EN.pdf

[2]https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/coreinstruments.aspx;https://www.ilo.org/declaration/lang--en/index.htm;http://www.oecd.org/investment/mne/1922428.pdf

[3]http://nototyson.com/

[4]https://www.tysonfoods.com/sites/default/files/2018-03/Commmitments%20for%20Continuous%20Improvement%20in%20the%20Workplace.pdf

Resolution Details

Company: 
Tyson Foods, Inc.

Co-lead Filers: 
As You Sow and American Baptist Home Mission Society

Year: 2019

Filing Date: 
August 2018

Initiative(s): Water

Status: Pending

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