Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Feed Industry Reaches Out

Submitted by Joel Newman, AFIA

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) is a critical spoke in the wheel that makes up the U.S. agricultural and food system. We at AFIA pride ourselves on our ability to meet future global challenges, while remaining true to our members and their communities.

In 2012, AFIA funded a landmark report, Future Patterns of U.S. Feed Grains, Biofuels, and Livestock and Poultry Feeding, a project financed by the Institute for Feed Education & Research (IFEEDER) on behalf of AFIA and the Council on Food, Agricultural & Resource Economics. The study addresses the factors driving the cost of livestock and poultry production and how food, feed and fuel resources will be allocated as we strive to feed a growing global population. If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you are well aware of the enormity of this challenge ...

Feed availability and cost will be affected by variables like biofuel production, annual reserves and global demand. These variables are putting pressure on our U.S. food system, which is still heavily impacted by the historic drought of 2012 and high corn prices. Most people don’t realize that 60-70% of a farmer or rancher’s cost is in feed supplies, such as corn. Those costs are going to be translated throughout the supply chain and, ultimately, to the consumer.

AFIA strongly believes that this non-partial report will benefit not only the feed, livestock and poultry industries, but will help policy-makers make the decisions that will impact us in the future. The report also advocates strongly for the need for technology to address the future challenge of feeding a growing global population.

This is one of the reasons AFIA created IFEEDER in 2009 ... so that our industry could have a dedicated foundation to address these issues and support the need for technology and education. Other projects funded by IFEEDER include everything from partnerships with the National Academies and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, to coloring books and teacher kits to help spread the word about agriculture to children in our local communities.

Speaking of giving back, did you know that the feed industry donated $6 million toward local community efforts last year? Supporting the community is actually the sixth focal point of AFIA’s Sustainability Initiative, designed for communication and collaboration between organizations, companies and associations. The five other focal points of the Sustainability Initiative, which was
established in 2009, are: 
  1. Continuously improve feed and food safety
  2. Optimize the use of energy and natural resources
  3. Promote understanding and appreciation of U.S. food production
  4. Production efficiency and productivity
  5. Embrace innovation
The feed industry also volunteered 23,700 man hours toward charitable efforts last year. According to a 2012 AFIA survey, our members supported community development activities, charitable giving toward education, FFA/4-H, health-related organizations, local fire/police departments, hunger and disaster relief organizations/efforts and environmental clean-up projects.

Our industry is changing; our world is changing. It is our responsibility to adapt to the changing times and meet the requirements we will all need in the future. While the times are shifting, we must rely on the tools and technology at our disposal to address global issues. At the same time, we must also remain actively involved in our communities and carry that communal strength into a brighter future for all. This isn’t just business to me—it’s personal.