Written by: Constance Cullman | April 14, 2022
This week, we were thrilled to host representatives from the European Feed Manufacturers’ Federation (FEFAC) to explore opportunities for cooperation between the United States and the European Union to not only enhance trade opportunities between the trading partners, but also to safeguard food security by strengthening the resiliency of feed and food value-chain partners.
The resiliency of the U.S. and European feed industries has not been tested to the current limits in more than a century since the era of World War I and the Spanish Flu. COVID-19 reminded us of the importance and dependence our industry has on functioning supply chains and how disruptions to the supply chain can negatively affect not just the feed sector, but the entire value-chain. Before we could recover from one crisis, however, we find ourselves thrown into yet another with the invasion of the Ukraine. And in times of war, the stakes are even higher.
Food security has new meaning now. It is not just a far-off notion affecting people on the other side of the globe or a country’s attempt to be self-sufficient. This is a much broader and bigger threat that has far-reaching global implications. There is significant uncertainty in sourcing important, vital inputs for food production including fertilizer, wheat, corn, vegetable meals and oils, etc.; a complex shift in trade dynamics that leave us to question, “How is the world going to access the vital inputs it needs to feed its population; to meet its demand?”
The American Feed Industry Association and FEFAC have had a close and pragmatic cooperative relationship for over a decade. Closely aligned interests have led to actively partnering to develop a Feed Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) database and tool based on the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance methodology for assessing and benchmarking feed industry impact on improvement in LCA calculations. Additional common priorities offer an opportunity for the U.S.-EU feed industries to come together to support feed resiliency and food security.
Agreement between two parties does not need to be 100% on every issue, but we can all agree that our goals are the same. We want to thrive, be resilient in the face of adversity and conflict, support productivity growth through responsible practices and be a reliable partner in the value-chain. We are an example of success; an example of the value of cooperative engagement between the U.S. and EU when common interests and goals are first identified and then openly and honestly discussed with a mutual goal as the foundation of those discussions and resulting actions. And while our feed industries are recognized as relatively non-controversial, this cooperative engagement should not- must not- stop with our industry. We believe we can be a model for how U.S and EU industries can speak from a common understanding, rather than a competitive or adversarial place, with a measurable and united voice.
The relationship between the U.S. and EU is mending under the current administration; communications between the two are evolving. Recent developments have demonstrated U.S. and EU leadership identifying commonalities and areas for collaboration, such as commitments made coming out of COP26 in 2021 to tackle the climate crisis, the establishment of the new U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council and the European Commission joining the U.S.’s Coalition on Sustainable Productivity Growth for Food Security and Resource Conservation (the SPG Coalition).
This week’s discussions with partners along the value chain, such as the U.S. Soybean Export Council, American Seed Trade Association, U.S. Grains Council, North American Meat Institute, North American Export Grain Association and National Corn Growers Association have solidified our interest in ensuring that this impending food security crisis is accompanied by intensified collaboration with members of the value-chain, as well as with our European colleagues at FEFAC. We had an opportunity to express this interest and support for our governments in meetings this week with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Department of Agriculture; Environmental Protection Agency; EU Delegation to the U.S.; and Embassy of Denmark.
Exploring opportunities for our respective governments to highlight our feed industries as a model for progress and responsible leadership will be key to continued success and greater resiliency for both the U.S. and EU feed industries.