Welcome to the audio-only version of the American Feed Industry Association’s, “Our Industry, Our Promise,” report, which details the challenges the U.S. feed and pet food industry faced over the past year and the steps the AFIA took to address member priorities. The report provides an overview of this unique industry segment’s impact on the U.S. economy, its efforts to promote animal food safety and worker health and safety, and its forward-thinking initiatives to enhance global competitiveness and industry environmental sustainability programs.
Listeners should note that this audio file will only read through key text sections of the report, but they are encouraged to view the file at AFIA.org for key statistics and infographics. For questions, contact Victoria Broehm, AFIA’s senior director of communications.
American individualism, and the independence and self-reliance associated with it, is frequently cited as what sets us apart, but it is when we unite that we experience moments of greatness – launching the democratic experiment, defeating tyranny and exploring space all resulted from individuals coming together for a common cause. Working together, we have met challenges, found solutions and created amazing new beginnings.
The U.S. animal food industry knew this to be true in 1909 when the AFIA got its start and remains committed to working together today. Global, and sometimes unexpected, turmoil continued throughout 2021 and into 2022, but through it all, our industry stayed strong, worked together and formed new partnerships along the journey. The AFIA serves as a means to speak with one industry voice about global supply chain challenges, the need for regulatory modernization and the importance of championing the innovative solutions that will allow us all to thrive.
And yet, even as a unified animal food sector, we couldn’t do it alone. The U.S. Congress and administration took notice when farmers, ranchers, agribusiness and environmental groups joined us in calling for much-needed regulatory improvements and modern trade policies to ensure they are not left behind as other countries move forward with new feed technologies. The United Nations (U.N.) took notice when the U.S. food and agriculture supply chain was joined by its counterparts around the world in calling for a positive dialogue about sustainable agriculture production, one that discussed real solutions and challenges and valued innovation, instead of one that looked to undo years of scientific progress.
Disruptions in the supply chain will inevitably stay with us throughout 2022 and unfortunately into 2023, but so too will our commitment to work with industry partners and governments around the world to resolve bottlenecks, identify new opportunities and navigate the global uncertainties posed by pandemics, production shortages and political unrest.
The road ahead of us is rough and winding but we know it is wide enough for us all to walk together. The AFIA will be your partner on this road – working together we will thrive.
Most of us have had an interesting relationship with the word “promise.” By definition, a promise is a declaration or assurance that a particular thing will happen. We have all promised things in both our personal and professional lives. But let’s be honest, the promise is the easy part; it is the follow-through that requires commitment and action!
A cornerstone of the AFIA is its Four Promises to membership: Voice, Representation, Expertise and Engagement. In my year as Board chair, it was gratifying to watch these promises fulfilled by the outstanding work of the association. The past year saw impressive progress on many issues important to the membership and our industry.
The AFIA has certainly maintained its reputation as a trusted resource for expertise on issues associated with the animal food industry. That expertise is communicated in various platforms to the membership, government officials and through the media. Recently, the AFIA has leveraged these strengths in the form of coalitions with industry partners. It is critical to convey positive messages regarding the animal food industry whenever possible.
One of my initiatives as chair involved working on the AFIA legislative advocacy program. The AFIA provides representation through effective, sustained communication with legislators on issues important to the industry. This afforded me the opportunity to see firsthand the extensive work of AFIA’s legislative and regulatory team, promoting issues and providing detailed materials to legislators.
The legislative advocacy program also demonstrates one aspect of the AFIA’s commitment to engagement. The program actively promotes the involvement of AFIA members with their local legislators. Materials are provided to simplify contact with legislators through phone calls, email, texts or invitation to AFIA member offices and production facilities.
The return to a more normal travel schedule also has had a very positive effect on the promise of engagement. AFIA’s Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference, Liquid Feed Symposium, Executive Leadership Summit and Equipment Manufacturers Conference all offered members unmatched educational and networking opportunities. Plans are well underway for the 2022 and 2023 versions of these events. Now is the time to reengage and get involved!
I look forward to another year of productive promise-keeping from the AFIA staff.
Next up is an update on the business climate facing U.S. animal food manufacturers.
Problems shipping via the nation’s highways, railways and ports have increased animal food manufacturers’ costs for doing business and delayed essential feed deliveries, in some cases at the risk of farm animal welfare. Our industry is dependent on a resilient and robust supply chain system to fulfill its mission of providing safe, high-quality animal food to farmers, ranchers and pet owners in the U.S. and globally. Over the past year, the AFIA joined other food and agricultural associations in communicating these challenges to the Biden administration as part of President Joe Biden’s directive on America’s supply chains. These efforts successfully led to the Federal Maritime Commission gaining greater authority to crack down on bad foreign actors that are imposing hundreds of millions of dollars of punitive charges on U.S. agricultural commodity exports from U.S. ports and increased funding to support domestic infrastructure revitalization. U.S. railroad companies are also feeling the pressure from the Surface Transportation Board to be held accountable for nationwide freight rail service delays.
Maintaining a steady, stable workforce is the key for resolving many of the aforementioned COVID-19-exacerbated supply chain issues. One area particularly hit hard is the trucking sector, where many long-haul drivers are retiring, and the next-generation workforce is opting for local, or short-haul positions. The American Trucking Associations estimates that the trucking industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade – an average of 110,000 annually – to replace retiring drivers and keep up with economic growth. The AFIA fought hard for establishing a pilot program within the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration aimed at allowing employers to create apprenticeship programs for 18-20-year-old drivers to operate commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce. The association also continues to support legislation that would enhance safety training for emerging members of the transportation workforce and the reduction of Section 301 tariffs, including those on chassis.
The AFIA tracked several state bills on the use of hemp in animal food and the collection of fees from the industry to pay for animal welfare programs. The AFIA joined 15 industry organizations and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) in imploring state agricultural leaders and policymakers to cease and desist enacting a hodgepodge of state regulations on the use of hemp in animal food until the proper federal regulatory reviews are completed to avoid confusion and restrictions in interstate commerce. The association also spoke up for members being asked to pay more in registration fees or taxes to fund state programs not associated with the regulatory review of their state’s feed products (e.g., to fund spay and neuter programs for pets owned by low-income citizens or for staff responsible for the care and seizure of animals during court cases). Looking ahead, the association will continue seeking partnership opportunities with state feed and grain associations to overcome and mitigate these and other state challenges.
With increasing geopolitical tensions in Europe, the threat of cyberattack on the U.S. agriculture industry is on the rise. Our industry reported instances of unauthorized users hacking into their computer systems and attempting to initiate ransomware attacks. The AFIA brought in outside experts from the University of Minnesota’s Food Protection and Defense Institute and Federal Bureau of Investigation to educate members on the ways they could harden their systems and prevent attacks that could threaten the U.S. feed and pet food supply and cause severe economic damages.
The next section provides industry updates on ways the industry is working to improve feed and food safety and enhance worker health and safety.
Routine animal food safety inspections resumed this year after being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout most of 2020-21. The AFIA has been communicating to members about the ways they can improve compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements, including preparing for the Food and Drug Administration’s new comprehensive inspection approach, where state and federal inspectors cover multiple inspections at once, improving efficiency and reducing facility down time. The association continues to offer training resources, including the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance - (FSPCA) Preventive Controls for Animal Food training, which help industry members become compliant with regulations.
In July 2021, African swine fever (ASF) reached the shores of the Dominican Republic, the first time since 1980 the disease has been detected in the Western Hemisphere. The AFIA team has been readying its crisis preparedness plans and providing members with resources to improve their biosecurity protocols. Recent research conducted by Kansas State University showed possible ways ASF could be introduced into feed mills and the extremely difficult nature of eliminating it. Working with the pork industry and the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), the AFIA commissioned a study to evaluate methods for disinfecting feed manufacturing facilities, particularly equipment that is not meant to be disinfected. Efforts are also underway to work with the federal government to minimize trade disruptions in the event of an ASF outbreak.
Since 2004, the Safe Feed/Safe Food (SF/SF) certification program has encouraged manufacturing excellence by going beyond existing regulations to bolster feed and food safety. With over 875 facilities certified in at least one of four programs, it’s clear that this voluntary program’s benefits are recognized and valued by companies and customers alike. The SF/SF certification program is viewed favorably by regulators, may be used as a risk-ranking variable, and certified facilities may receive fewer, shorter or less frequent inspections due to their preparedness and dedication to food safety. Over the past year, the AFIA staff have showcased the program’s benefits in trade publications and via a new award-winning website at safefeedsafefood.org.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published its COVID-19 emergency temporary standard (ETS) in the fall of 2021, setting into motion a host of employee vaccination requirements in the workplace. Legal challenges to the ETS mounted quickly, and the AFIA joined others throughout the agricultural community in voicing opposition to the standard on the grounds that most member facilities had already voluntarily taken steps to promote healthy work environments and that it could have the unintended consequence of exacerbating labor challenges. The groups contended it could also result in government overreach of the types of workplace hazards OSHA has the authority to regulate. Ultimately, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocked enforcement of the workplace vaccine-and-testing mandate for all but the healthcare industry, citing “serious constitutional concerns” and its harm to businesses. The AFIA continues to monitor COVID-19’s impact on workplace regulations and encourage members to act in good faith to promote healthy and safe workplaces as responsible members of their communities.
The next section provides updates on how the industry is working to meet customer demands at home and abroad.
Farmers’ and ranchers’ animal production needs are changing and so are the attitudes of today’s pet owners. To accommodate shifting demands, animal food companies work to bring innovative ingredients to the marketplace that could improve the safety, quality and nutrition of feed and pet food, but often see these ingredients stuck in limbo at the FDA, costing innovators an average $1.75 million annually in revenue per ingredient. Along with several champions in Congress, the AFIA is advocating for increased funding for the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) to hire and onboard new staff to relieve the strain on the staff’s limited resources. With continued growth in this area expected, the association is angling to remove more regulatory hurdles slowing down the approval of new ingredients.
If the recent supply chain woes are any indication, a stoppage of trade in one area can grind everything to a halt. Over the past year, the AFIA has been engaging with several association partners to amend potentially devastating language in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s (APHIS) export certificate for animal-based feed and pet food products – the Veterinary Services 16-4 form – that would stop the export of all U.S. animal-based feed and pet food products (including aquaculture-based) should there be an outbreak of any of the listed animal diseases (e.g., ASF) in the country. Not only has the association been working to avert the devastating economic ramifications that could come with a sudden stoppage of trade of these products, but it has also been advocating for APHIS to dedicate the necessary resources to address ongoing industry export facility inspection and certificate slowdowns.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with weather challenges in South America and ongoing COVID-19-exacerbated supply chain disruptions, continue to add volatility to the marketplace, raising demand and prices for all products and highlighting the need to diversify ingredient sources. The AFIA has been monitoring the geopolitical situation and working with U.S. agriculture partners to support America’s efforts to alleviate trade challenges and maximize the ability for U.S. farmers, processors and input suppliers to ensure global access to feed and food.
For two decades, the AFIA, either on its own or through the International Feed Industry Federation, has participated in Codex Alimentarius (Codex) committees to develop and defend science- and evidence-based international standards on animal feed. This engagement recently bore fruit, with the conclusion of the five-year task force on antimicrobial resistance and the approval of a code of practice and guidelines, which provides countries with science-based guidance on containing foodborne antimicrobial resistance in the food chain. The association also participated in a review of the risk of carryover of unavoidable and unintended residues of drugs in feed. The committee determined that it was a low food safety risk and concluded that the Code of Practice on Good Animal Feeding did not need to address this topic further.
The Biden administration’s prioritization of domestic over international policy has put U.S. animal food exporters at a competitive disadvantage in the global marketplace. While other countries are forging ahead with multilateral trade agreements to fulfill the growing need for animal protein and quality pet food worldwide, the United States is sitting on the sidelines. Our industry relies on exports to sustain prices, revenue and jobs. The AFIA called on the administration to fill key leadership posts to advocate for U.S. agriculture and for renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority to give the president the ability to negotiate trade agreements with the support of Congress.
The AFIA is also working to strategically increase market access in priority countries, including China, Vietnam and Brazil.
The AFIA has been working to improve China’s animal production and distribution system through technical exchanges, building demand for U.S. feed additives to enhance the productivity and profitability of China’s supply chain. The association is also collaborating with the U.S. government to hold China accountable to its phase one trade commitments and calling for a reduction in retaliatory tariffs.
Although Vietnam’s dog and cat food sales have nearly doubled in the past five years due to a growing middle class adopting pets and shift toward feeding complete diets rather than table scraps, demand still remains low. Because of this low demand and stringent product registration requirements, only three companies supply 73% of this market. The AFIA has boots on the ground in Vietnam working to educate consumers about the importance of complete and balanced pet food diets to the health and welfare of pets and how U.S. suppliers can play a role in improving pet health.
Brazil boasts the 12th largest developing economy globally and its hunger for animal protein is growing. Simultaneously, the Latin American country is increasing its beef exports. With both domestic and export growth opportunities, Brazil could benefit from the efficiency of U.S. animal feed ingredients. The AFIA will conduct a market assessment of the Brazilian marketplace with funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service’s Emerging Markets Program.
The next section provides updates on how the industry is working to prove animal nutrition’s role in sustainability.
The Biden administration is focusing on climate change, and nothing could have made that point clearer than the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) release of a proposal to require publicly traded companies to disclose certain climate-related information, including corporate greenhouse gas (GHG) data. The proposal follows an executive order President Biden issued that aims to integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) reforms throughout the federal government to address climate change. While our industry is working diligently to decrease its environmental footprint, substantiation for ESG claims and emissions targets are difficult to quantify and companies may face potential liabilities if such disclosures are false or misleading to investors or consumers. The AFIA has voiced concerns to the SEC to evaluate the burdens and costs it could place on non-registrant, value chain participants, who may not currently have the resources to provide robust emissions data.
The global use of animal food ingredients to address environmental protection is soaring with the development of innovative products demonstrating proven efficacy and safety. However, the FDA maintains an outdated policy that regulates feed additives with certain environmental label claims as “drugs” rather than “animal foods” – a major barrier impacting the industry’s ability to compete globally, when other countries are utilizing this technology four to five years ahead of the United States. The overall agricultural industry, federal agencies and Capitol Hill have recognized the potential for feed additives in helping the U.S. meet its climate change goals, and the AFIA has been working to improve the regulatory environment for their approval and evaluate potential for on-farm adoption. This year, the AFIA also had the first-ever opportunity to speak to an engaged regulator audience at the USDA’s Agriculture Outlook Forum on ways the industry is improving its environmental footprint and how agencies could work together to modernize regulations currently barring technology adoption.
Recognizing that animal feed plays a critical role in measuring animal protein’s environmental footprint, the AFIA has been working as part of an international consortium to establish and put into practice a globally accepted framework for calculating the life cycle analysis (LCA) of animal feed. Global references indicate that feed contributes to 63% of total GHG emissions from pig, 42% of emissions from cattle and 78% from chicken production. This year, the AFIA has been educating members and industry stakeholders on the newly available tools, based on the latest scientific progress in environmental footprinting and other technologies, which will enable and accelerate the transition of the livestock economy toward a net-zero emissions sector.
It was all hands-on deck in preparation for the much-anticipated United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS), where heads of governments, nongovernmental organizations and businesses gathered to make formal commitments on the ways they plan to transform their food systems to achieve the U.N.’s ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. The AFIA took a lead role with the U.S. agricultural community in ensuring the U.S. government and other stakeholders prioritized science and innovation, diverse diets and diverse food systems while recognizing the countless contributions from animal food manufacturers and others in the U.S. agricultural value chain as solution providers in solving growing food security and nutrition challenges. The UNFSS served as the starting point for further international dialogues on transforming food systems, and the AFIA committee continues to work in concert with other organizations to monitor ongoing global conversations that demonize the agriculture industry and seek to remove nutritious animal protein from plates.
The AFIA has seen a return to in-person programs over the past year, welcoming members back safely to various networking and educational events. Open the design file to see a chart with attendee and sponsor numbers. Of note:
The AFIA held its 50th Liquid Feed Symposium (LFS) in 2021 in Oak Brook, Ill., celebrating the rich history of liquid feed and the many years of meeting together at the symposium. Highlights from the celebration included a “Walk Down Memory Lane” showcase (pictured at right), featuring an industry timeline and liquid feed artifacts, a video detailing the history of liquid feed, the induction of the very first Liquid Feed Committee from 1970 into the Liquid Feed Hall of Fame and a live auction, which raised a record-breaking $14,110 for the Kenny Berg Research and Education Fund.
The AFIA recognized several industry members with awards this year. Open the design file to see member names and companies recognized, including the Feed Facility of the Year award winners.
The AFIA’s communications department continues to engage with members and target audiences through social media and the blog. Open the design file for the latest social media metrics and top blogs and remember to tag us in social media using hashtag Feed Facts.
Across the U.S. animal food industry, our members consistently go above and beyond to help feed people and pets in their communities and across the world. At the AFIA, our small staff also does its part to give back.
For the second year in a row, the AFIA staff volunteered at the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC), which provides essential food items to families in need in the Arlington, Va., area. This year, the staff bagged 550 packages of beans and oatmeal.
In honor of the late actress Betty White, an avid animal lover and advocate, many AFIA staff donated to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington to buy much-needed pet food for dogs and cats waiting for their furr-ever homes. This effort was spurred by the social media #BettyWhiteChallenge.
For the first time, the AFIA conducted a blood drive at its August 2021 PISC to assist in the nationwide blood shortage, collecting over a dozen units of blood with the potential to save 30 American lives.
In lieu of printed holiday cards, the association made a generous donation to Heifer International, which works to end hunger and poverty by supporting local farmers and their communities.
Our Mission - The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) is committed to representing the total feed industry, as a key segment of the food chain, and member companies’ interests with one industry leadership voice on matters involving federal and state legislation and regulation; keeping members informed of developments important to them; creating opportunities to network and address common issues and interacting with key stakeholders essential to the success of the feed and animal agriculture industries.
The American Feed Industry Association is an equal opportunity provider and employer. For more about the association, visit AFIA.org.