Written by: Leah Wilkinson | November 16, 2023
When the world’s best minds get together, good things should happen. That’s exactly what took place this week at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) global forum for animal feed and feed regulators. The forum brought together over 200 feed regulators and feed industry representatives from around the world to discuss feed security, feed safety, animal production and environmental sustainability to ensure growth in livestock production and availability of animal proteins. The need for animal-based products is growing around the world and animal nutrition is an essential part of sustainable livestock production.
The FAO recognizes the clear need for animal-based products in healthy diets and is undertaking a mission to advance efficient, inclusive and environmentally conscious livestock systems. Its recent conference on sustainable livestock transformation advanced important discussions toward the goal of “better production, better nutrition, better environment and better life.” This theme was carried forward to this forum on feed.
In many developing countries, producers are feeding the animal to keep it alive and not feeding the animal for production. Many speakers discussed how proper nutrition leads to healthier animals and, in doing so, mitigating antimicrobial resistance, improving production and reducing environmental impacts. The International Feed Industry Federation’s efforts on nutritional innovation and the role of adequate nutrition to promote animal health and welfare fits right with FAO’s goal to increase production.
According to FAO, animal products represent 39% of protein intake and 18% of caloric intake. Producing safe and nutritious animal products starts with the feed industry and appropriate regulation ensures that system is in place.
Better environment: In comments opening the forum, FAO director general Qu Dongyu highlighted the animal feed industry’s important role in reducing waste and improving the environment. Research presented by Mingan Choct, Ph.D., Professor of Animal Nutrition at the University of New England Australia, demonstrated how feed conversion benefits the environment through pounds of feed saved per year, less manure, less transportation, less land use and less total emissions. The forum also discussed the need for regulatory systems to keep up and evolve with science and technological advancements.
Over one billion people depend on livestock for their livelihood so it was important to explore how the animal feed industry can be involved in helping people improve their livelihoods. A wide range of ideas were shared including the importance of developing and communicating programs and information in ways that allow for implementation by the smallholder producer. Other suggestions highlighted the huge opportunity for improving food and feed production in Africa, including education and training of women.
All-in-all, this first of its kind forum brought together like-minded regulators and stakeholders who care about the future of livestock production and understand the need to bring the feed industry to the forefront of the global discussion. Feed is a key component of livestock production, and it was an honor to be able to participate in the forum on behalf of the U.S. industry.