ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) elected a new chairperson, board and executive committee members, and conducted other official business during a virtual version of its annual spring meeting.
Scott Druker of Church & Dwight Co. will serve as the 2020-21 chair of the AFIA’s board of directors. His one-year term is effective through the end of AFIA’s fiscal year, April 30, 2021.
The AFIA board recognized Tim Belstra of Belstra Milling Co. for his leadership as the association’s board chair during the 2019-20 AFIA fiscal year. Belstra now transitions into a one-year chairmanship of the Institute for Feed Education and Research’s (IFEEDER) Board of Trustees.
“Over the past year, Tim has been a calm, guiding force in leading the association through the CEO leadership transition and the COVID-19 global pandemic,” said Constance Cullman, president and chief executive officer of the AFIA. “His guidance and support to the whole team has been exceptional and we can’t thank him enough for his service to AFIA.”
The AFIA board voted to accept the nomination of Mike Schuster of Laidig Systems, Inc. to become chair-elect of the organization. Schuster will succeed Druker in May 2021.
The board also elected the following individuals to serve three-year terms, which began during the meeting: Eduardo Lopes Alberto, DSM Nutritional Products; Eric Arnold, Bill Barr & Company, Inc.; Elizabeth Barber, The F.L. Emmert Co.; Jim Gerardot, Kincannon & Reed; Tim Jacobson, Tier 1 Nutritionals; Mike Van Koevering, PhD, Elanco Animal Health; Mike Lennox, Kentucky Equine Research, Inc.; Mark Lueking, Cargill; Sean McNear, Blue Buffalo Pet Products, Inc.; Jeff Pendleton, Hallway Feeds; Paul Phillips, Maxi-Lift Inc./Southwest Agri Plastics, Inc.; Chad Risley, Berg+Schmidt America, LLC; Rob Sheffer, Zinpro Corp.; Jason Summar, Hood Packaging Corp.; Kimberly Treanor, Foster Farms Inc.; and Doug Webel, United Animal Health, Inc.
In addition, the board approved seven nominated individuals as additions to AFIA’s Executive Committee: Mike Gauss of Kent Nutrition Group, Inc.; Carlos Gonzalez, PhD, of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc.; Mike Van Koevering, PhD, of Elanco Animal Health; Mark Lueking of Cargill Animal Nutrition; Eric McMillan of Cactus Feeders; Lon Stephens of Co-operative Feed Dealers, Inc.; Dean Warras of Phibro Animal Health Corporation; and Mindy Whittle of Bayer U.S. - Crop Science.
Prior to the business meeting, the board met on May 12 for a virtual advocacy day. US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue welcomed the board members with a video message, providing a brief overview of some of the ways the federal agency has been supporting the agricultural community throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
“USDA is standing with our farmers and ranchers during this national emergency while feeding individuals in need of a helping hand,” Perdue said. “Additionally, America’s food supply chain is showing extreme agility as we continue to adjust to these changes that have happened in a very short period of time.”
The board also heard from congressional leadership on some of the unprecedented supply chain disruptions that have happened related to the COVID-19 pandemic and plans for future coronavirus relief bills, among other topics.
“We are in uncharted waters,” said Representative Jim Costa of California’s 16th Congressional District. “Food in America is a national security issue. Maybe people will now believe that.”
Both Costa and Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas talked about the need to provide swift assistance for American agriculture for the remainder of this year and possibly into 2021. One bright spot that could emerge from the COVID-19 situation is that Congress could take the opportunity to address rural broadband issues, particularly in light of more people in need of connectivity in rural America. Roberts said the other pressing challenge facing industries — including the animal food industry — is getting people back to work safely.
“We’re going to get through this guys, there’s no other alternative,” Roberts said. “We are right behind you on the Ag Committee. We will persevere and get this done.”