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GHI Welcomes Grady Bishop, Senior Director for North American Market Access at Elanco, to the Board of Directors
Global Harvest Initiative is pleased to introduce its new board member Grady Bishop, Senior Director for North American Market Access at Elanco Animal Health. Grady has worked for Elanco since 2002 in various roles in US and Global sales and marketing leadership, including two years in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as Director of Elanco’s Southern Cone Affiliate. In his current role, Grady focuses on government affairs and food chain engagement in the US and Canada. He is based in Elanco’s global headquarters in Greenfield, Indiana, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Grady, how did you become involved in agriculture?
I grew up in Southwest Kansas on a row crop farm, but had an interest in livestock from an early age. As a student at West Texas A&M University, I got very interested in the feedlot beef production side of the cattle business. Feedlots are fascinating because it is the culmination of the production chain. It brings together all of the veterinary know-how and experience to make sure the animals are well cared for and well fed. It is also where we are producing a product that meets the safety and quality standards that the global consumer is expecting. The connection between animal welfare and producing a high-quality product is so important. It think we need to pull the veil back a little bit and help folks understand how we are achieving it.
Why did you decide to work for Elanco?
Elanco has a reputation as a science-based, innovation-driven organization. Elanco has been an innovator for over 60 years (since 1954). We can look back across every animal protein value chain and see how Elanco has transformed how we manage disease, reduce environmental impacts, and made production more efficient and safe. Elanco has been an integral part of the history of animal stewardship in the US, and around the world.
I was also drawn to Elanco by its leadership philosophy and the values of the people who work here. There is a real sense of humility, a dedication to service, and a commitment to “feeding the 9”, as we call it.
You spent some time in Argentina with Elanco. Tell us about your experience and how it impacted you.
My two years in Argentina impacted me in a couple of ways. First, for the first time in my life I witnessed extreme poverty and food insecurity. It was a sharp contrast from the small town in Kansas where I grew up and it really altered my perspective of the world and the challenges people face every day. Second, I came to understand the links between productivity and the technologies farmers use. Argentina has the potential to help feed the world, but right now they are struggling to feed their own people. I became convinced that if farmers were able to access inputs and technologies they could close the productivity gap and meets their needs and achieve their goals.
Elanco and Heifer International have a tremendous partnership. What have been some of the most exciting outcomes you have seen from this engagement?
I think the partnership with Heifer has fundamentally changed how Elanco understands our role as an animal health company. We have seen the life-changing impact even one animal can have on an individual, a family, and a community. A couple of years ago, I visited a series of swine projects in Cameroon and I was blown away by the impact the project had on people’s food security and income. I met people who had been in a state of poverty prior to receiving their animals and who were now sending their children to university. Through our partnership with Heifer, Elanco has become a “cause-based” company and we are now working with Heifer to bring 100,000 families out of poverty.
We know that reducing the environmental footprint of livestock is one of the greatest challenges in creating a sustainable food system. What are the keys to making livestock production more sustainable?
In terms of making livestock production more sustainable, I think there are two challenges going forward. First, we need to accelerate the rate of innovation – it’s not enough just to maintain the gains we’ve made. Second, we’ve got to figure out how to apply these innovations globally, there are many regions of the world where we can have an extraordinary impact if we can scale the technologies to meet those needs – our partnership with Heifer has really shown us this.
In thinking about sustainable food systems, I think there are three things to keep in mind. First, we need to ensure that we have a food system that preserves choice for consumers – from organic production to conventional production and with a variety of price points. Second, the pipeline is rich with innovations that can help us preserve consumer choice and address concerns about sustainability, animal welfare, and food safety. As these innovations develop, however, we have an obligation to help consumers understand what we are doing and why. Third, if we are to reduce the environmental footprint of livestock production, we must expand trade for animal proteins. Products need to be able to flow from where they can be economically and sustainably produced to where the demand is.
Speaking of consumers, how is Elanco engaging with consumers about their concerns about livestock production?
Elanco has become much more aware of the importance of looking beyond our customers to understand what consumers want and need. This has really challenged our paradigms about transparency and the responsibility we have as part of a global food value chain. We are looking for ways to engage consumers in an open, transparent exchange of ideas that helps build trust between consumers and the food system. Social media is one space to do that. We are using our #Feedthe9 hashtag through our food security platform, the ENOUGH Movement, to have a transparent dialogue about the coming challenges and what it will take to meet it.
GHI emphasizes the importance of agricultural value chains that conserve natural resources, adapt to climate change and consumer needs, and improve people’s lives and livelihoods. From your perspective, what is the role of the private sector in achieving these goals?
First, I think the private sector needs to talk about these goals and how our innovations are contributing to them. Too often we get caught up with what is happening in the laboratory and talk only in scientific terms. We need to talk about what innovation means to people and the variety of economic, social, and health benefits it brings. Second, I think the private sector brings the discipline and execution of a business mind-set to the conversation about food systems. Food systems have to be economically viable in order to be sustainable. Finally, the private sector has become the major driver of agricultural R&D. I think we need to take a more global view in our research; increasing the number of public-private research collaborations could help us do this.
Any final thoughts?
I think GHI plays an important role in elevating the conversation and providing some real insight into how to increase productivity in a way that is responsible and sustainable. The Global Agricultural Productivity Report® (GAP Report®) really highlights these critical conversations and draws them together in a way that is accessible. I am excited – and Elanco is excited – to be involved with GHI.