Feed Bites

Catalyzing Feed Industry Action for Climate

Written by: Lara Moody   |   September 21, 2021

IFEEDER, Environmental footprint, Dairy

In advance of the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) happening on Thursday, Elanco Animal Health and Agri-Pulse brought together livestock industry leaders, producers and government officials through a virtual forum last week to catalyze action and encourage stakeholder engagement with the livestock industry value chain and the private sector. As I listened, I heard the comments as a call to action for the private sector, and the feed industry in particular, to provide and account for the environmental and economic value of the solutions we provide in our livestock and poultry feed.

Many of the points raised resonate with actions the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) and the American Feed Industry Association are currently pursuing. Opening with the importance of measurement, both Jeff Simmons, Elanco Animal Health CEO and president, and Agnes Kalibata, Ph.D., special envoy for the UNFSS, called out the need for private industry to support climate commitments through measurements that assess and demonstrate progress. And, where progress is desired, road maps should be developed to chart a path for creating, achieving and measuring solutions. Simmons specifically called out the need to partner with the feed industry because “livestock consumes a lot of feed and feed creates a lot of footprint.”

In another part of the forum, AFIA’s Constance Cullman moderated a panel where feed and private sector engagement again came to the forefront. Fair Oaks Farms Board Chair and co-founder and CEO of Select Milk Producers Dr. Mike McCloskey, pointed out that with private sector’s science, technology and research, it’s up to individual co-ops, brands and processors to integrate those tools to pursue their own commitments.

He estimated a possible 70% methane emission reduction from dairy cows if we improve forages and optimize feed rations to reduce emissions, incorporate feed additives and use animal genetics to breed for lower methane-emitting cows.

The points made during the forum were driven home this week by the United States and European Union organized Global Methane Pledge, which maintains that relative to animal agriculture, instead of changing human diets, we must encourage innovation that optimizes animal diets, among other things. The three main technological options identified to reduce emissions include: changing the food animals eat, breeding low-methane cows and processing animal manure to capture the methane for energy. The private sector undoubtably has a role to play here and the AFIA continues to call for U.S. policymakers and regulators to make the necessary regulatory changes that will allow the U.S. to join countries around the world that are advancing some of these game-changing, feed solutions.

To support the feed industry along this path, IFEEDER will be launching the Sustainability Road Map project in October. It will help us identify industry needs, including what measurements should be standardized and tracked to show progress. This week, I’ll be tuning in to the virtual UNFSS on Sept. 23 to engage with government officials and other participants interested in working with us to advance these solutions.


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