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The American Feed Industry Association held its biennial Feed Industry Institute this week in St. Louis, Mo. The conference brought together more than 130 individuals in the industry to learn the basics of the animal food manufacturing process, from the types of foods used to the animals fed to federal policies that shape the output of the industry and more.
“The Feed Industry Institute provides a forum for experts in the animal food industry to share their knowledge with an audience from a variety of backgrounds,” said Paul Davis, Ph.D., AFIA’s director of quality, animal food safety and education. “AFIA’s Nutrition Committee dedicated a lot of time and effort into making this program beneficial and educational for all attendees.”
During the intensive four-day educational program, attendees heard from 28 expert speakers, or “professors,” about a variety of topics, including physiology and nutrition in monogastrics, ruminants and companion animals; the role of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in animal nutrition; various feed ingredients; formulation and processing; trade; customer service and communications; and feed industry regulations.
The class wrapped up with an empowering presentation about what agriculturalists can do to share their stories. “Ninety-five percent of consumers make food decisions based on taste, cost and nutrition,” said Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs. “We’ve got to find what a consumer wants and be able to communicate ‘well, this is why we did that.’”
Fatka discussed consumer perceptions about agriculture, sharing that her advice is to communicate with the public and those within their communities on shared values, rather than always stating scientific facts.
In a graduation ceremony at the end of the course, all participants received a certificate of completion, and they are able to submit to the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists for 15 continuing education units.
The Institute has been offered every other year since AFIA merged with the National Feed Ingredients Association in 1992.