Written by: Guest | January 17, 2020
Berg+Schmidt America, LLC
It is hard not to notice the ever changing landscape of international trade policy. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, trade with China, Japan, U.K. and the European Union - there is so much happening and all of it has huge implications for U.S. agriculture and the animal food industry. The American Feed Industry Association works hard to protect our industry’s interests globally and I am proud to be a member of the committee that oversees these efforts.
AFIA’s International Trade Committee (ITC) provides a forum for members to represent the international trade interests regarding the feed, feed ingredient and pet food industry and educates members on the changing regulatory and policy environment related to the import and export of feed, feed ingredients and pet food.
The ITC was formed in 2016 and I have been an active member from the start, over time holding the positions of secretary, chair-elect and now chair of the committee. Leading Berg+Schmidt America’s efforts in functional lipids for feed and food, the ITC has helped me keep B+S informed on U.S. trade policy, especially considering all the changes that have happened in the last two years. The committee work has also helped B+S source necessary and useful information, especially for Vietnam and Australia.
As the U.S. and China have been working on strengthening and opening its trading relationships, the ITC has had a front row seat to AFIA’s engagement with the various U.S. government agencies and U.S. negotiators on addressing the numerous constraints the U.S. animal food industry faces in the Chinese market. For example, being on China’s facility registration list is one of the required first steps to doing business in China. The ITC has been paramount in working towards establishing a process that would allow companies like B+S to get on the China facility registration list and I am pleased to announce that the United States with China signed a phase one agreement this week that does just that.
Being an active member of the ITC has also helped me build relationships with other committee members and provided educational opportunities. The committee has a unique mixture of members that does not overlap with other AFIA committees. During our November 2019 meeting, the committee had the chance to hear from both U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agriculture Affairs, Ted McKinney, and U.S. Trade Representative Chief Agricultural Negotiator, Ambassador Gregg Doud. Hearing directly from the Under Secretary and Ambassador allowed me to clearly communicate back to our headquarters in Germany about what is developing in the world of U.S. trade. Industry’s presence and active participation in these high-level meetings and discussions facilitated by the ITC also gives an opportunity for these agencies to hear first-hand the importance and value that trade brings to our industry and the U.S. economy as a whole.
I have to congratulate AFIA on having the foresight to start focusing on the importance of trade many years ago back in 2016. I can remember when Gina, now AFIA’s director of international policy and trade, was hired and was struggling to get traction with the membership. The early conference calls and meetings did not have many participants, but AFIA and Gina did not give up in facilitating an understanding and appreciation of the importance and value of international trade to this industry. Luckily for the ITC and for AFIA’s overall membership, strong member interest developed and the board approved the committee. This brings us to where we are today, a committee that is active, growing, having no problems drawing in new committee members and is influencing government policy to the benefit of all AFIA members.
All AFIA members can benefit from the work of the ITC and can be active through signing up for the Member Interest Group (MIG). Just contact Gina Tumbarello or Mallory Gaines to get started with the MIG*.
I strongly encourage AFIA members to get involved in ITC or another committee. I look forward to future work with the committee and continuing to interact with government leadership and with my fellow AFIA committee and MIG members.
*All AFIA members can receive pertinent committee and trade information and updates by subscribing to the MIG. Contact Gina Tumbarello or Mallory Gaines to sign up and learn more.