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When you think of federal agencies, what comes to mind? For me, I think of an intimidating, hulking building with slow, red-tape processes. I recently learned the reality is far from my wild imagination. Boiled down, federal agencies, and specifically the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) in this story, is comprised of people, looking to give back to their country.
This past week, several American Feed Industry Association staff participated in the Universal Food Forum, hosted by Michigan State University and CropLife America in Washington, D.C. There, different expert panels discussed a variety of topics impacting global food security, from building resilient food systems to climate change and global regulations and trade. Below are some highlights.
“If we don’t find overseas markets for our products, many farmers, many producers, go out of business.”
That was the message Daniel Whitley, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, told the American Feed Industry Association’s Board leadership at a recent meeting. Our global policy team would strongly agree - the future of American agriculture, and the U.S. animal food industry, will be contingent on demand from beyond U.S. borders.
U.S. pet food products hold a valuable place in the global marketplace. In 2022, the top export destination for pet food was Canada with $1.1 billion and China came in second place with $264 million.
The American Feed Industry Association’s Mallory Gaines and Gary Huddleston recently brought staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service on a tour of the Kent Nutrition feed mill in Hagerstown, Md., as part of the AFIA’s Feed 101 Program.
On both the domestic and international fronts, we are being asked how feed additives and ingredients can mitigate offsets, such as methane, and support sustainable and nutrient-dense animal protein diets. The American Feed Industry Association prides itself on its commitment to being the voice for the animal food industry at the international level and has invested more time and energy into the sustainability and climate change space over the past few years. This is also one reason why the AFIA is engaged in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C), and participated in the meeting held in Washington, D.C., a few weeks ago.
Last year, I wrote about the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) Veterinary Services Form 16-4 (VS 16-4) and how if it was not updated, it could hinder exports for animal-based products in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak on U.S. soil. We recently celebrated APHIS’s progress on updating this form, and are now turning our attention to going country-by-country, product-by-product to remove any diseases not relevant to those products.
U.S. animal nutrition products hold a valuable place in the global marketplace. In 2022, the overall export value for feed, feed ingredients and pet food was $7.5 billion and the total volume of exports of these products was 9 million metric tons.
Not many know what happens behind the scenes here at the American Feed Industry Association. This well-oiled machine may look easy-breezy-lemon-squeezy (as my Pilates instructor says) from the outside, but behind our closed doors, you’ll find dual, sometimes triple, computer monitors; multiple Excel spreadsheets open with trade data and colorful graphs; dozens of browser pages open with research; partially drafted Word documents; scribbled post-it notes; and LOTS and LOTS of caffeine. Well, I can’t speak for the rest of the AFIA, but that’s what it looks like at my desk, and I can tell you, it is all worth it when we score a win for our members and industry.
Imagine that all the different countries in the world are Greek gods and goddesses. As Americans, we would likely think ourselves as the almighty Zeus and maybe we would say our brethren the European Union (EU) would be Poseidon, brother of Zeus and god of the sea. Even though Zeus is all powerful, Poseidon is no slouch; he bestowed many gifts, seduced many nymphs and sent many sea monsters to ravage those who betrayed him. All the gods and goddesses meet on Mount Olympus and here is where we make our analogy stretch to the United Nations (UN).
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