Pilgrim's shareholders face key votes

by MEAT+POULTRY Staff
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Pilgrims
 
GREELEY, Colo. – Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. announced the company’s annual stockholders meeting will be May 10, and several matters are up for consideration and a vote.

Pilgrim’s board of directors is recommending a vote against a proposal for the company to adopt and implement a water stewardship policy. Oblate International Pastoral Investment Trust, Friends Fiduciary, Adrian Dominican Sisters, Mercy Investment Services Inc. and Park Foundation co-filed the proposal to implement a water stewardship policy “…designed to reduce risks of water contamination from Pilgrim’s direct operations and supply chain.”

According to a securities filing, shareholders expect the proposed water stewardship plan to include:

  • Requirements for leading practices for nutrient management and pollutant limits throughout direct operations, contract farms, and feed suppliers, with a focus on verifiably reducing nitrate contamination;
  • Reporting on time-bound goals, key performance indicators and metrics demonstrating conformance to the policy;
  • Financial and technical support to help suppliers implement the policy; and
  • A transparent mechanism to regularly disclose progress on adoption and implementation.

Pilgrim’s board opposed the proposed stewardship plan, saying another policy would duplicate the company’s current practices and procedures while imposing additional costs. “As part of our commitment to the environment, we are in the process of upgrading wastewater treatment facilities at a number of our facilities,” the company said in a securities filing. “Our wastewater facilities are operated in accordance with site-specific permit requirements which are established by the local authorities governing these operations. We also expect responsible and efficient water stewardship from our industry partners.”

Another stockholder proposal addresses board diversity. Oxfam America is asking the board to report on steps the company is taking to foster greater diversity on the board. The proposal asked the board to consider modifications to nominating and corporate governance policies to reflect a greater commitment to diversity on the board inclusive of gender, race and ethnicity. Oxfam is also advocating the inclusion of women and minority candidates in every pool from which board nominees are chosen; and an assessment of challenges experienced and progress the company has achieved.

Pilgrim’s board is recommending a “No” vote on the diversity proposal on concerns that it is not in the best interests of the company. “While the board acknowledges the benefits of broad diversity throughout the company, including at the level of the board, the proposal would inadvertently limit the Special Nominating Committees’ ability to select the most suitable and qualified candidates for membership on the board and impose inefficiencies in the selection of director nominees that would not necessarily benefit the board or our stockholders,” the company said in response to the proposal.

Also on the ballot, eight directors, including five JBS directors, are to be elected. Gilberto Tomazoni, chairman of Pilgrim’s; Denilson Molina, chief financial officer of JBS USA Food Co.; Pilgrim’s CEO Bill Lovette; Andre Nogueira de Souza, president and CEO of JBS USA Holdings; and Wallim Cruz De Vasconcellos Jr., a partner of Iposeira Partners Ltd., are the candidates for JBS directors. David E. Bell, a member of the Harvard Business School faculty; Michael L. Cooper, managing director and vice chairman emeritus of Kincannon & Reed, an executive search firm for the food and agribusiness sectors; and Charles Macaluso, a principal of Dorchester Capital LLC, are up for election as the three equity directors.

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