Feed Bites

If You Want to Go Far, Go Together

Written by: Guest   |   May 18, 2021

Capitol Hill, Advocacy, Environmental footprint, IFEEDER

By: Mike Schuster, vice president of sales, Laidig Systems, Inc.

It is an honor to begin my new role as chair of the American Feed Industry Association Board of Directors. The opportunity to serve in this position is both exciting and humbling. 

Although I was raised in northern Indiana, my early years did not provide me with an awareness of the feed industry. Driving through soybean fields, eating sweet corn from roadside stands and the yearly visit to the “you-pick” strawberry patch was the limit of my exposure to the agricultural industry. My introduction ended up being through a random conversation leading to an entry-level job opportunity with a local agricultural equipment manufacturer, Laidig Systems, Inc. in Mishawaka, Ind. Over 40 years later, it is difficult to imagine serving a more rewarding industry.         

My passion for the feed industry can be summarized in one simple word: people. Dedicated people with a singular, yet bold vision of efficiently feeding an expanding world. Conscientious people focused on providing nutritious, high quality products safely and sustainably. Genuine people that value family and the freedoms this great country affords all of us.  

A 26-year involvement with the AFIA Equipment Manufacturers Committee and more recent participation on the Board of Directors has shown that AFIA members are an enthusiastic group of professionals committed to collaboration. They recognize that with respect to a stable food supply, more can be accomplished together than individually. This attitude and approach are summarized by a sign that hangs in my office. It is an African proverb:

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

If you are reading this and not involved in AFIA committee work, please get involved! 

It would seem reasonable to all that the animal food industry’s collective vision for a safe and sustainable food supply is a fundamental goal that benefits the entire world. But as we all know, that is not the perspective of everyone. The news media is congested with reports suggesting that agriculture has a negative effect on environmental problems such as climate change. We must have a voice in this discussion!           

Fortunately, the AFIA is well positioned to represent the animal food industries in two substantive ways. The first is through the Institute for Feed Education and Research. IFEEDER is supporting the industry on several fronts, including research to develop unbiased information and providing accurate messaging regarding environmental issues to the media and key influencers.  

AFIA’s Board chair Mike Schuster, of Laidig Systems, Inc., hosted Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.-02, for a tour of Laidig's facility to learn more about the animal food industry.

The second way the AFIA represents the industry is through legislative and regulatory leadership. The AFIA staff consistently communicates with legislators to provide them valuable data that assists in determining policy positions and regulations. Additionally, the AFIA staff leverages their efforts through a legislative advocacy program primarily involving the Board of Directors.   

One of my goals as chair will be to work with the AFIA’s legislative and regulatory team to improve and expand the legislative advocacy program. Our emphasis will be to:

  • promote the importance of legislative activities;
  • provide detailed materials and action steps allowing for more effective engagement with legislators; and
  • actively seek the involvement of many more AFIA members. 

One of the most effective ways for members to become involved is inviting legislators to visit your office. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski of Indiana’s second district recently visited Laidig Systems for a tour of our manufacturing facility. This provided an excellent opportunity to further develop our relationship and discuss legislative initiatives that are important to the animal feed industry.      

Thank you for your time and involvement in the AFIA. My commitment for the next year will be to bring energy and enthusiasm to my role. Our future remains bright as long as we go far together.  

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