Written by: Victoria Broehm | June 9, 2022
A few weeks ago, our American Feed Industry Association Board of Directors met with their congressional officials to discuss matters of importance to the animal food industry. For some, it was their first chance to walk the halls of Congress and take part in the political process, but for others, it was a chance to reconnect in person after a while of virtual visits. Hear what they had to say about the issues that are important to them and why members should get involved in federal advocacy.
Joe Lucas (vice president, managing director of CJ Bio America, Inc.): We discussed the importance of adequate funding for the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) to hire staff and expedite the review process for new ingredients. Adequately funding the CVM ensures that our industry remains competitive in the global market, continues to innovate and ensures confidence in our food system. It’s important to companies like CJ Bio, and our customers, that we continue to bring new innovations to the market with a well-funded, reliable U.S. regulatory system.
Elizabeth Maier (executive vice president, The F.L. Emmert Company): Our industry is at the heart of the world’s food chain. Collectively, we’re responsible for feeding the animals and people in the United States and beyond, and that is a big responsibility. When approvals for new feed and food technology gets hung up in Washington, we all suffer. We need more resources for faster ingredient approvals, fewer supply chain hold-ups and better communication and cooperation between feed and food producers and the government.
Carlos Gonzalez, Ph.D. (worldwide director, global regulatory affairs, Hill’s Pet Nutrition): Our elected officials are not sufficiently aware of the size of the U.S. animal food industry, including our economic footprint. We are key employers throughout the country and play a critical role in promoting food security. As they better understand our impact, they can better represent our interests.
Robert King (manager of regulatory affairs Merrick’s Petcare): This was my first time on the Hill representing the industry and I quickly found out that the elected officials and staff are very aware of the headline issues; however, it was well-received for them to hear directly from AFIA members on more of the details that they can actually consider and act upon. It was especially important to me to tell them exactly how these issues impact the businesses and livelihoods within their districts and beyond.
Lucas: Our AFIA membership plays such an important role in food and nutrition. We have a great story to tell and we need to be more confident in sharing it. We are a vital part of the most efficient, safe and affordable food system in the world. Our elected representatives should hear our positions directly from AFIA members when considering policy, which impacts our industry and consumers.
Maier: We’re an industry of hard-working, well-meaning people. If we don’t speak for ourselves, who will? These visits are the perfect way for the animal food and food industry’s collective voice to be heard.