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Signing Off – AFIA's "Advocacy" Chair

Written by: Guest   |   May 12, 2022

Advocacy

By: Mike Schuster, vice president of sales, Laidig Systems, Inc., AFIA Board chair 2021-22

It is very difficult for me to believe how quickly the past year has come and gone. It seems like only yesterday I was thanking Church & Dwight Company’s Scott Druker, previous AFIA Board chair and our first “virtual” one at that, for his leadership through some very challenging times. While some uncertainty remains in the global marketplace, significant progress has been made toward realizing our new post-pandemic normal. This has certainly been the case for the American Feed Industry Association.

We saw our first opportunity to meet in person. The phrase, “It is great to see you,” never meant so much! Our path to normalcy included a delayed Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference (PISC), Liquid Feed Symposium, Executive Leadership Summit, Equipment Manufacturers Conference, a very successful International Production & Processing Expo and recently, PISC with a traditional spring schedule. The AFIA Board of Directors was also able to meet in person for the first time in two years. Plans are well underway for the 2022 and 2023 versions of these events. 

Now is the time to reengage and get involved!

Led by a terrific AFIA staff, there has been an aggressive transition from survival mode to building a foundation for the future. There was no rest for the AFIA team after the initial limitations placed upon all of us by the pandemic. The past year saw impressive progress on many issues important to the membership.      

Additionally, there are several new initiatives that will create an even stronger AFIA. The incoming chair of the AFIA Board of Directors, Mike Gauss of Kent Feeds, will be leading a financial resiliency task force. This committee will assess the association’s current financial status and policies to ensure they will meet the challenges of the future. An internal Organizational Engagement Assessment (OEA) is also currently underway. We all can agree that the past two years has presented uncertainty in the workplace. The OEA will help build a satisfying work environment for the AFIA team members to grow, contribute and perform to their highest potential. There are also plans to continue the implementation of AFIA’s sustainability platform in collaboration with the Institute for Feed Education and Research strategic plan.       

If I may, please allow me to make one last plea as chair to encourage all of you to become involved with legislative advocacy. One of the main priorities of the AFIA is to represent our industry on legislative and regulatory issues. The AFIA staff consistently communicates with legislators to provide them valuable data that assists in determining policy positions and regulations.

These efforts are critical in driving the positive changes required in our common goal of producing safe, nutritious and high-quality animal food.    

One of my goals as chair was to assist the AFIA legislative and regulatory team with improving and expanding the AFIA legislative advocacy program. This program involves promoting the importance of legislative activities, providing detailed materials and action steps allowing for more effective engagement with legislators and actively seeking the involvement of many more AFIA members. This engagement can include phone calls, e-mail, texts or inviting legislators to AFIA member office and production facilities. 

It does not matter how, please just get involved!   

In closing, I want to thank AFIA President and CEO Constance Cullman and the entire staff at the AFIA. The past year has provided me with additional insight as to what a talented and passionate team of professionals they are. In addition to respecting their work, I have truly enjoyed their company. The AFIA membership is well served by this great team of dedicated people. 

Thanks also goes to the outstanding Board members I have had the privilege of working with the past year. It has been my honor to serve with you. 

Finally, I wish the very best to incoming Chair Mike Gauss. I am confident the Board will be in good hands under his leadership. 

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