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There's a lot of positive momentum in sustainability in agriculture, says Courtney Hall, who recently joined CHS as director, climate and reporting initiatives. "Sustainability is not new to CHS," she says. "What’s new is we are building and strengthening the foundation and taking an enterprise approach."
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A conversation with Courtney Hall about sustainability

An interview with Courtney Hall, director, climate and reporting initiatives, about how CHS is well positioned to help create a more sustainable world.
Amy Sitze
Apr 21, 2023

In recognition of Earth Day tomorrow, we sat down with Courtney Hall, director, climate and reporting initiatives, to talk about how CHS is well positioned to help create a more sustainable world. 

Hall, who has 15 years of experience in the field, joined the company four months ago. She was hired by Megan Rock, who became the company’s first chief sustainability officer in November 2022.

What drew you to CHS?

One of the reasons I wanted to join CHS is because of our cooperative model. I think we have the secret sauce to make a really positive impact for our organization and our owners. A lot of our values are critical for working with diverse stakeholders to make a positive impact: collaboration, integrity, trust.

When you think about some of the great grand challenges the world is trying to solve, we are at the center of a lot of those issues. Who is better positioned to tackle this than our organization, along with our owners?

What are some general trends in sustainability in agriculture?

There’s a lot of positive momentum. One of the big trends we’re seeing is that organizations are setting ambitious goals that have a trickle-down effect in their value chain. For example, food companies are setting goals that go beyond their direct operations, which affects their food suppliers, which in turn affects meat companies and feed companies. This creates an environment where you have multiple partners coming together with similar end goals to tackle the same issues.

For growers, what we’re seeing is more incentives to support farmers, more tools and technologies. I think in the past we didn’t have the best incentive structures or tools — and those aren’t perfect today, by any means — but there’s a lot of positive progress in this area.

What steps is CHS taking in sustainability?

One thing that has been clear to me is that sustainability is not new to CHS. What’s new is we are building and strengthening the foundation and taking an enterprise approach.

One thing we’re doing is trying to get a better holistic picture of our environmental impact. CHS takes a practical and pragmatic approach to sustainability, so last year we went on a listening tour. We talked to owners and other leaders and stakeholders in the agricultural space to try to understand where the biggest opportunities are to have a positive impact, considering the company’s size and scale and our different businesses. There are a lot of things we could be doing, but we really need to focus. What is most relevant for us to be doing together?

Out of that work came the topic of climate and carbon, and that’s how my role weas created. We are working right now on a project to understand our greenhouse gas emissions footprint. We’re building on the great work our refineries and processing plants have already done and extending it to more aspects of our business so we can develop a well-informed strategy that adds value to our organization and our owners.

Another thing we just did was launch a couple of carbon ideation workshops to start to plan and prioritize how we take action in this space. 

What else do you want people to know about sustainability?

This is a journey. We don’t know what the future holds for us, but we want to be at the table shaping our future. There are a lot of trends, everything from policy to new market demands, that we have amazing teams looking at to understand what risks this poses to our organization — and also what opportunities. 

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

Watch a short video from our interview with Hall:


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