ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) has suspended its Feed Facility of the Year program for 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The feed association is taking the time as an opportunity to improve the program. 

“As an essential industry, US animal food manufacturers have been working hard throughout the pandemic to keep their plants operating safely and efficiently so that they can continue delivering livestock feed and pet food to the marketplace, all while adjusting to meet current and changing federal and state health and safety guidance to protect their employees,” said Gary Huddleston, director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs for the AFIA.

“With current travel restrictions and visitor limitation polices in place, it would be difficult for all facilities that wish to apply to the program to safely be able to participate and for us to be able to score the award appropriately,” he said. “The AFIA already had plans to make necessary modifications to the program so that the benchmarking data would be more meaningful and attract more participation in the program across the industry, so we will suspend the program this year while working with our members to hear their feedback and return with an even stronger and more effective program in 2021.”

The AFIA has been working with member focus groups on changes for 2021, including making the application process easier and less time-consuming for facility managers.

The goals of the updated program are three-fold:

  • provide facility managers with meaningful benchmarking that will facilitate continuous improvement of their operations;
  • recognize facilities that do an outstanding job in their industry category among their peers; and
  • gather important industry benchmarking data the AFIA can use when working with various government agencies.

The Feed Facility of the Year award recognizes overall excellence in feed manufacturing operations, from companies’ commitment to safety, quality and regulatory compliance to employee development to overall operating efficiencies. A total of 34 facilities have received the industry award.

Koch Farms’ feed mill in Morton, Mississippi, US, was most recently named the 2019 Feed Facility of the Year.

Formerly the Feed Mill of the Year Award, the AFIA and Feedstuffs modified the program in 2016, and it is now recognized as a first-class benchmarking program for the animal food industry. Representing each of the several types of feed manufacturing facilities within AFIA’s membership, the format compares and recognizes top-performing facilities in four categories: commercial dry livestock, integrator, liquid feed and premix. From those, the Feed Facility of the Year award is selected.

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