Written by: Leah Wilkinson | July 23, 2020
As individuals, you either like working with others or you don’t. We discover these things about ourselves during our school years and these traits develop further during our careers. As a trade association, these same behavioral tendencies also exist. Overall, I would say the U.S. animal food industry tends to play well with others. This is demonstrated by the work of American Feed Industry Association members and by AFIA’s membership in the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF).
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected countries differently, but one thing that has remained consistent around the world: the need to continue ensuring an adequate, safe, healthy and affordable food supply. During the early stages of the pandemic, we saw just how important animal agriculture is in feeding the world in regard to the supply chain issues and the pressures placed upon it. All parts of the food supply chain, including feed manufacturing, are essential to this goal. IFIF joined the International Livestock Partnership in sending a letter to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States (FAO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) reiterating the industry’s importance and urging global trade to continue.
“We welcome the joint statement by FAO, WHO and WTO on 30 March, highlighting that “when acting to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, countries should ensure that any trade-related measures do not disrupt the food supply chain.” We wholeheartedly agree and appreciate your support and guidance as we work jointly to avoid disruptions in trade, livestock production, provision of feed, processing, and distribution of food from farmed animals essential for food security and public welfare, while respecting the welfare of animals we care for.”
In June, the international community also rallied around the valuable role animal protein plays in diets with a joint letter to the FAO and WHO. The open letter, signed by more than 75 organizations around the world, highlighted the impact livestock and poultry have globally. The letter detailed how 1.3 billion people depend on livestock for their employment and refuted misinformation aimed at linking livestock production to the spread of COVID-19.
“However, some are making unfounded claims that livestock and modern agriculture were somehow the source of the pandemic. This threatens to distract the global public health response at a time when animal agriculture can offer lessons for wildlife zoonosis management as part of the long-term pandemic preparedness.”
Over the last four months, the IFIF has held several member-sharing meetings, affording the international feed community opportunities to learn about the pandemic situation in other countries while also sharing best practices of communicating with members, advocacy and ensuring the continuation of business. This two-way street of information sharing allowed AFIA staff to gain a different perspective on issues and anticipate challenges yet to be dealt with in the U.S. related to transportation or state shut downs. By being a “joiner” of IFIF since its founding 33 years ago, the AFIA could participate in this cooperation, promoting better results for AFIA members.
While many of us are quarantining or socially distancing from others, it’s important to remember, we are not in this alone. It’s ok to talk to others within our industry about challenges you are facing or brainstorm ideas. It shouldn’t take a pandemic for that to occur.
I’m thankful that the AFIA already had a strong relationship with the IFIF and our sister trade associations around the world so that there was no hesitation in the cooperation and playing well in the sandbox.