Written by: Guest | February 1, 2023
By: Chris Spangenberg, microbial international registrations manager, Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
When I joined Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production five years ago, I had no agricultural background and was hired for my microbiology and regulatory experience. I remember one of my first days on the job, learning that farmers use manure to fertilize their crops, feed those crops back to the cows, and then the cows complete the circle. I thought WOW, what a concept! I still look back at those days and laugh, but also remind myself how much I have learned.
As I began to gain a broader understanding of the agricultural industry, I learned about the American Feed Industry Association. Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production has long been involved with the organization, but my involvement began by attending webinars that contained international content. Then one day, an AFIA email came across my inbox saying that committees were taking applications for the new fiscal year, and I decided to investigate what committees AFIA had to offer. I immediately was intrigued by the work of the International Trade Committee (ITC) and put in my application and was accepted as a member.
The first year as part of the ITC was an interesting one, as many things were with COVID-19 the past few years. The first meeting was just grasping what exactly was going on and who everyone was. Then, there was our first in-person meeting at the AFIA’s Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference (PISC) in 2022. It was great to meet other industry leaders and have discussions in person again. My knowledge of the animal food industry grew immensely in two short days. I started to grasp what the AFIA and ITC specifically do for industry partners.
I learned that we all work in different areas of the feed industry, but in the end, we all have a common goal of growing American-based animal food.
It is invaluable to learn the pain points and tricks of the trade when working with the various government bodies that we work with on a routine basis.
After PISC, I was motivated to get more involved. The committee was looking for a secretary to serve the upcoming term, and I decided to inquire about the role. I was nominated and am currently serving as the secretary for ITC. This role led to attending the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council as a representative of AFIA’s ITC, which served as a great experience to talk to and express the feed industry’s concerns to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s attaches posted at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world who are working to enhance opportunities for U.S. agricultural exports.
My favorite and most rewarding experience to date was advocating for our industry on Capitol Hill. The ITC teamed up with the AFIA Pet Food Committee last fall and spoke to our representatives about core issues affecting the American feed industry. It was a great day collaborating with other industry leaders and being a part of the U.S. legislative process. The personal and professional experience I gained was insurmountable.
When I first joined the AFIA, I was not sure what I was going to get out of it. I have only been directly involved with one committee and can say that I have received more than I have put into it.
The knowledge I have gained, the connections I have made, and the experiences I have been fortunate enough to partake in, have allowed me to grow professionally and personally and made me feel a part of the larger feed industry.
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just getting involved with the AFIA, I encourage you to get involved and join a committee or member interest group; you will not regret it!