ARLINGTON, VA. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) board of directors recently wrapped up its annual spring meeting in Arlington earlier this month. During the meeting, the AFIA heard concerns from federal regulatory officials, advocated for policy issues impacting the animal feed and pet food industry, installed new board leadership and directors, and conducted other official business to help drive the industry.

At a briefing on May 17, board directors heard from Tracey Forfa, J.D., director of Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM), and Tim Schell, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance, on many topics. Forfa and Schell discussed the regulatory pathway for approving new ingredients, including those without nutritive benefits (i.e. those that can help control pathogens), agency resources and more.

“We have pushed very hard to recognize that there are a lot of novel feed ingredients coming down — that is the future,” Forfa said during the briefing. “We recognize that, and so we have been really working very hard to figure out how to make the process for reviewing those keep up with the times.”

According to Forfa, the CVM has been working to bring technical experts on board to help it keep pace with innovations in the animal feed and pet food industries and, hopefully, make the ingredient approval process more efficient.

The AFIA board also heard from Daniel Whitley, administrator of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), on the FAS’s Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program, which offer funding to various industries but has recently struggled to increase its funding means.

“The programs have not had an infusion of increased funding — ever,” Whitley revealed. “They are still at the same [levels] they were at decades ago. The problem is our competitors see how well we’re doing with promoting our products, so now they are starting to do it. But they are starting to invest and spend more money than what we have.”

The association also presented Richard Sellers with its 2023 Distinguished Service Award. The award is the association’s highest honor, recognizing “elite” members of the US animal food industry who have provided support to the AFIA and overall industry throughout their careers.

On May 18, the board met with the US Senate and House offices, where they lobbied on several topics, including:

  • A legislative amendment to regulate novel animal nutrition additives as feed ingredients under the FDA, rather than drugs
  • A $5 million increase in funding for the CVM
  • Key Farm Bill trade and conservation programs that may help the industry retain its global competitiveness

Later that same day, the board held an official business meeting and recognized Mike Gauss, president of Kent Nutrition Group and outgoing AFIA board chair, for his leadership and contributions to the association. The association also named Carlos Gonzalez, Ph.D., worldwide director of regulatory affairs for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, as its new board chair, effective from now until April 30, 2024. Gauss will now transition to chair of the Institute for Feed Education and Research’s (IFEEDER) board of trustees, where he will serve for one year.

“I have worked with staff and members of this organization since the early 2000s when I began my regulatory career and am blown away by the work that you do,” Gonzalez said. “I am humbled that you have put your trust in me as board chair over the next year.”

The board also voted to accept Leigh Ann Sayen, chief executive officer of The Petersen Company, as chair-elect of the board for the 2024-2025 fiscal year.

“The future for AFIA is very bright with the phenomenal staff and incoming leadership of Carlos and Leigh Ann,” Gauss said. “They both have diverse backgrounds and amazing skills that will benefit the association, industry and our members greatly.”

The association also confirmed the following board appointments:

  • Scott Baker of SEM Minerals, LP;
  • Cory Berg of QLF-Quality Liquid Feeds, Inc.;
  • Nathan Bingaman of D1 Resources, Inc.;
  • Jonathan Cowles of WL Port-Land Systems, Inc.;
  • Susanna Elliott of Alltech, Inc.;
  • Marlin Hoogland, DVM, of Smithfield Foods;
  • Paul Kalmbach of Kalmbach Feeds, Inc.;
  • Steve Lerner, Ph.D., of Chr. Hansen Animal Health and Nutrition;
  • Allen McDonald of Global Animal Products;
  • Steve Mills of Perfection Pet Foods;
  • Rebecca Mowen of ADM Animal Nutrition, Inc.;
  • Matt Podany of EBM Manufacturing;
  • Tim Reed of Reed Mariculture;
  • Karl Thoene of CHS, Inc.;
  • Ben Towns of Arm & Hammer;
  • and Ty Vaupel of Alfagreen Supreme

It also approved seven nominations to its executive committee:

  • Holly Bellmund of GLC Minerals, LLC;
  • Rob Brock of Westway Feeds;
  • Julio Contreras of Sweet Manufacturing;
  • Dan Hennessy of Land O’Lakes;
  • Dan Meagher of Novus International;
  • Mark Poeschl of Furst Mcness Company;
  • Dan Rice of Western Milling;
  • and Wesley Wilson of Ag ProVision, LLC

The AFIA thanked all its outgoing board members for their three years of service.

Read more news from associations and agencies in the pet food sector.