ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — Facing extraordinary worldwide challenges with a “sense of optimism,” over 160 attendees to the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) Liquid Feed Symposium gained industry insights and updates Sept. 7-9 in New Orleans, Louisiana, US. 

Attendees gathered to hear the latest ingredient, weather and market forecasts and discuss the ways the liquid feed industry factors into cattle producers’ sustainability objectives. The AFIA, based in Arlington, Virginia, US, is the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the US animal food industry and its suppliers.

“Today’s liquid feed manufacturers are weathering a lot — inflation, ingredient availability challenges, trucking and labor shortages, extended periods of drought — yet there is still a sense of optimism that they will continue moving their businesses forward to deliver sustainable, quality products to America’s beef and dairy cattle producers,” said Paul Davis, PhD, director of quality, animal food safety and education for the AFIA.

Several speakers addressed a variety of topics, including on how the Russia-Ukraine war is affecting global markets for agricultural commodities, long-term challenges with growing and maintaining a stable trucking workforce, the political forecast for the November midterm elections in the United States and how tracking and reporting environmental data will be increasingly important for downstream customers.

“The feed industry used to have ‘the first right of refusal’ for many ingredients,” such as molasses, whey and glycerin, given there was “not much competition” for them, said John Cropley, commodity analyst for ED&F Man Liquid Products. Now, “the additional demand from non-feed sectors is tightening the balances,” particularly from the energy sector, where companies “can pay more than most cattle producers can pay, unfortunately.”

“We are going to experience a death of protein in the US for a bit,” said Joseph Kerns, president of Partners for Production Agriculture. “We will produce less animals to get the feed rates to go down, leading to a reduction in global protein supplies.”

During the event, AFIA and Feedstuffs recognized Quality Liquid Feeds’ Comstock Park, Michigan, US, manufacturing facility as the 2022 Liquid Feed Facility of the Year. The AFIA Liquid Feed Committee also hosted a live auction, which raised a record $17,100 to support the Kenny Berg Research and Education Fund. The fund, which is managed by the Institute for Feed Education and Research, supports liquid feed research projects conducted by agricultural universities.

Next year’s AFIA Liquid Feed Symposium will be Sept. 12-14, 2023, in Louisville, Kentucky, US.