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Ensuring a Successful Future for AFIA

Written by: Guest   |   May 27, 2022

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Outgoing Board chair Mike Schuster of Laidig Systems, Inc. (right) hands gavel to incoming AFIA Board chair for 2022-23 Mike Gauss of Kent Nutrition Group, Inc. (left).

I am excited and humbled to begin my new role as chair of the American Feed Industry Association Board of Directors. It is an honor to work with the staff of this great organization which genuinely cares about the industry, its members and sustainable nutrition for the world.

I’d like to take a minute to recognize and thank Mike Schuster, Laidig Systems, for his leadership over the past year. Mike led by example while encouraging all of us to get involved in legislative advocacy.  He is a great leader, consummate professional, a true gentleman and someone I am proud to call a friend. Thanks, Mike, for all you have done and continue to do for the association and the industry as a whole.

While I make it a point to not reference COVID-19 in every letter I write or speech I give, it has taught us many things. Two specifically come to mind regarding AFIA:

  • The benefit of having a strong balance sheet which was established by many of you who have come before. And now, the need to replenish those reserves.
  • The uncertainty of tradeshows regarding frequency, attendance and impact. While I am not implying that tradeshows will end, I do believe that they have been, and will continue to be, reimagined in the future.

So, when Constance asked me what I wanted to focus on for this year, I wanted it to be something that would leave the association in a better position at the end of the year. Financial stability and resiliency is my choice.

Just like each one of our organizations, the importance of financial stability and resiliency for the association is critical. This was not only highlighted in the AFIA’s past budgetary challenges but more recently by the pandemic’s negative impact on event revenues necessitating a draw upon the organization’s reserves. Apart from steady increases in tradeshow revenue, other revenue – primarily publications and dues - have been static. Since 2007, operational cost increases (salaries, benefits, rent and travel) have been offset by an increase in revenue from the International Production & Processing Expo and the Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference – both of which have begun to plateau, necessitating discussion on how the association can diversify revenue streams. The association has many worthy projects and priorities which are limited by the team’s bandwidth and resources to complete them.

Therefore, we are putting together a 10-person Financial Resiliency Task Force along with the AFIA staff to focus on the following:

  • Assess the current financial status of the AFIA, including its ability to weather disruptions to revenue generation and continued growth.
  • Identify ways to expand and diversify revenue streams.
  • Determine if a membership due increase or change to the calculation method is appropriate for AFIA’s near term financial and operational goals.
  • Assess current AFIA and IFEEDER investment policies to ensure they meet the current and growth needs for the organization.

I want to thank those who have agreed to serve on the task force. Your experience and ideas will be invaluable. 

I look forward to presenting our results and recommendations to the board at the October 2022 Board of Directors meeting.

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