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The American Feed Industry Association and Feedstuffs are proud to announce the four category winners for the 2019 Feed Facility of the Year (FFY) program. AFIA congratulates Western Milling of Goshen, Calif., as the winner of the commercial dry livestock feed plant category; Koch Farms of Morton, Miss., as the winner of the integrator category; Quality Liquid Feeds of Menomonie, Wis., as the winner of the liquid feed plant category; and Trouw Nutrition of Nesoho, Mo., as the winner of the premix manufacturing plant category.
“The FFY program aims to highlight excellence in feed facilities and I am very proud to say that each of these facilities has risen to a high level of quality and excellence,” said Gary Huddleston, AFIA’s director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs. “After months of thoroughly reviewing applications and touring facilities to determine these winners, AFIA is thrilled to announce them, and we look forward to naming the overall winner next week at the International Production & Processing Expo. We hope all applicants receive the value the benchmarking program tool provides in helping them on their journey toward continuous improvement.”
The FFY award program is recognized as a first-class benchmarking program for the animal food industry. It compares and recognizes top-performing facilities in four categories: commercial dryfeed, integrator, liquid feed and premix, and from those, an overall winner is selected to receive the FFY award.
Western Milling – Commercial Dry Feed Category Winner
Through employee ownership and a commitment to providing trusted nutrient solutions, Western Milling’s goal has been to provide long-term value for its employees and customers for more than 80 years. Western Milling’s facility in Goshen, Calif., is one of the largest and most diverse animal food production operations in the U.S., producing more than 1.4 million tons of dry commercial feed annually. The facility currently handles more than 1,200 active and unique formulations.
Despite its large size and diverse operations, Western Milling has had no issue making feed safety a priority. With such large volume, efficiency is key. In a goal setting process, Buster Freeman, director of commercial feed operations at Goshen, discovered additional automation would improve the operation’s overall quality and efficiency. The end result was the incorporation of a WEM system that allowed for the automation of nearly all functions of formula import and management, scheduling and feed production across seven mixing systems. Since the project went live in 2017, Freeman has seen dramatic and immediate results.
“The bottom line is that our products are safer, higher in quality and produced more efficiently as a result of this investment in automation,” said Freeman.
Koch Farms – Integrator Category Winner
At Koch Farms, cleanliness and safety go hand in hand and are the center of the team’s daily mission. “A clean work area is a safe work area” is the messaging prominently displayed at the mill located in Morton, Miss., and to mill manager Frank Garczynski, those aren’t merely words. Producing nearly 800,000 tons of feed per year and providing feed for the company's birds is a big task, making organization and cleanliness in the facility even more essential.
The mill has a built-in vacuum system for cleaning, which has been upgraded in the past year to allow for even more effective cleanups. The new vacuum system is available to all levels of the facility and allows the team to carry the hose from area to area and simply plug it in. Garczynski noted that with the 30 horse motor, it is very effective at removing dust.
“Cleanliness is important not only from a safety and quality standpoint, but it also helps with employee morale and retention,” said Garczynski. “The facility is often visited by the Koch management team and potential and existing customers.”
Quality Liquid Feeds – Liquid Feed Category Winner
Quality Liquid Feeds (QLF) has been dedicated to providing excellent customer service for over 42 years, growing over the years from a primarily Midwestern marketer of liquid feed supplements to a full-line liquid feed and cooked low-moisture block organization that serves the animal feeding industry nationwide. It is an innovative leader in the development and manufacturing of liquid feed supplements. The Menomonie, Wis., plant, one of 17 in the QLF network of manufacturing facilities, fulfills the customer-focused vision by focusing on continuous improvement.
In 2018, the Menomonie plant completed a nearly $600,000 infrastructure project to help the team deliver excellent customer service. The improvement focused on increasing ingredient storage capacity, containment and handling and production process efficiency while expanding custom formulations to meet individual customers’ needs. QLF also has its own fleet of trucks and trailers. Nick Brandon, the Menomonie plant manager for most of 2019, feels it provides for a better experience for customers when they do their own trucking and hauling.
“What makes QLF outstanding is the excellent customer service we provide,” said Brandon. “We are available for customers of every sizes, from small operations all the way up to large corporations.”
Trouw Nutrition – Premix Category Winner
As a nutrition-focused company, Trouw Nutrition’s Neosho, Mo., mill strives to provide the safest, highest-quality blends and ingredients to the pet food industry, giving pets a healthier, happier life. High quality and safety doesn’t come easy – the mill employs extensive internal quality control procedures so every premix is evaluated and touched by the facility’s staff an average of 101 times before heading to a customer.
Plant manager Doug Vanjoff credits, among other things, the facility's computer-controlled systems for in-process analysis, quality control and strict on-site quality assurance programs designed to satisfy the highest industry standards. Since Trouw Nutrition acquired the facility in 2007, the Neosho mill has received more than $7 million in upgrades. Trouw also holds six quality certifications, including AFIA’s Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification Program, FSC32 (manufacture of pet food) and FSC34 (manufacture of animal feeds), FAMI-QS, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP), restricted-use protein products (RUPP) free, and Ractopamine Free.
“Combined with our commitment to procuring only the finest ingredients, we are fully committed to protecting our customers’ brands and ensuring pets receive the safest, highest-quality food,” said Vanjoff. “Our team focuses 100% on animal well-being and safety. We pride ourselves on taking the necessary steps to confirm ingredients and finished products to meet or exceed our customers’ standards.”
AFIA and Feedstuffs have conducted the FFY, and its predecessor program, since 1985, recognizing 73 total companies for outstanding performance in animal food manufacturing. More information on the FFY program, as well as a list of past winners, can be found on AFIA’s website.
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