Feed Bites

Standing Up the Sustainability Committee

Written by: Sarah Novak, Lara Moody   |   June 9, 2021

Environmental footprint, IFEEDER

The issue of sustainability is constantly evolving and fast moving, and the American Feed Industry Association’s organizational response and approach has been changing with it!

In 2009, Brian Rittgers, AFIA’s Board chair-elect at the time, brought together a task force to examine what “sustainability” means for the industry. Early on, the task force, which quickly upgraded to an “oversight committee,” defined animal food industry sustainability as:

“Providing a continuous, safe and nutritious food supply for poultry, livestock, fish and pets in a manner that optimizes environmental quality and the use of natural resources, while positively affecting the social and economic wellbeing of customers, their communities and their industry.”

At the time, four focus areas were established, including:

  • Optimizing the use of energy and natural resources,?
  • Enhancing the precision of our animal nutrition programs through new, efficient and productive technologies,?
  • Providing consumers and policymakers with a better understanding and appreciation of today’s food production system, and?
  • Supporting our local communities.

With the pursuit of continuous improvement as a sustainability ethos, the animal food industry’s efforts have expanded and evolved, as have the efforts of our customers and supply chain. AFIA’s oversight committee is also evolving to best serve the membership. Initially regarded as a resource to “oversee” other AFIA committees’ work, interest in the group grew and industry members took a more active role in this area. Coupled with a steady global sustainability drumbeat and an AFIA CEO and president with a passion to advance solutions, the platform is strengthened and we are building on this established, strong foundation.

In May this year, the oversight committee chair formally recommended to the AFIA Board of Directors the creation of a Sustainability Committee to address the total needs of the animal food industry. In the memo to the Board, the chair wrote:

“As the work in the area of sustainability is increasing and broader in scope, having an expanded voice to address all the areas needed is critical. The committee needs individuals from all sectors of the animal food industry as well as individuals from various disciplines and expertise – research, communications, consumer, nutrition, etc.”

The Board approved the motion, providing the committee with the same formalities given to AFIA’s other 13 committees, including the ability to have 15 members, with rotating terms and leadership positions.

Over the next year, the committee will focus on advancing the feed industry as a solution provider to climate change in national and international dialogues, identifying and exploring member and supply chain needs and partnering with the Institute for Feed Education and Research on a sustainability road map for the industry. While sustainability has been a component of AFIA efforts during the last decade, its evolution to a committee demonstrates the dynamic nature of continuous improvement.

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