Feed Bites

There is No Silver Bullet to Climate Change – But That Doesn't Mean We Aren't Trying

Written by: Leah Wilkinson   |   February 3, 2022

Environmental footprint, Ingredients

Dr. Joseph McFadden’s opinion piece in The Hill this week was a good reminder to me how there is no simple answer to “fixing” the climate issues our world faces. There is no one “silver bullet” identified yet that will fix the situation. However, that is not for lack of trying.  

For those in the animal feed industry, there is much being done to identify solutions that can be implemented through animal nutrition. Dr. McFadden discusses a feed ingredient in his opinion piece and then highlights the complexities that are involved with getting it through the necessary review processes and to market. An additional challenge not discussed, is: 

Can the U.S. feed industry even make a claim that an ingredient like seaweed would reduce the methane emissions of a cow? 

While so many unknowns exist in this area, one thing I do know is that the American Feed Industry Association and our members are working toward answers that will have an impact for the industry, all of agriculture and for the environment.  

  • Animal food manufacturers continue to provide innovative research, development and discovery into ingredients and nutritional approaches for more efficient digestion, absorption and utilization in the animal. This may come from existing ingredients, refined approaches or using new technologies.  

  • The AFIA has focused policy activities in the last several years on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the ingredient review processes at the Food and Drug Administration and Association of American Feed Control Officials. An additional focus is on modernizing the policy interpretation at the FDA to allow products seeking label claims for animal production, animal well-being, food safety and the environment to be regulated as “feeds” instead of “drugs.”  

  • We work hard to tell Congress, the administration and stakeholders about the important role animal nutrition plays not only in the healthy growth of the animal, but also in the reduction of greenhouse gases. In fact, on Feb. 25, AFIA’s Paul Davis, Ph.D., has been invited to speak at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s annual Agricultural Outlook Forum about how approved feed ingredients, and those under development or within the regulatory pipeline, are supporting the feed industry’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases from ruminant livestock (you can register to watch it here). 

  • The Institute for Feed Education and Research recently launched an animal food industry sustainability road map project. It will provide an opportunity for the animal food industry to develop a road map and supporting resources for information exchange, including standardization and methodologies, and provide life cycle data up and down the production chain. This will be a pivotal component to lower our industry’s environmental footprint and advance our industry’s solutions to the global climate challenge. 

Simple answers are desired – I think that is human nature. But they don’t always come easy, and we need the full power of the industry to help find these answers and directions. If you are not an AFIA member already, join the association to lend your voice into setting the direction to help solve these problems and find practical solutions that drive real change. Together, we can do it!

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