ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, US — Richard Sellers, who retired from the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), received the organization’s 2023 Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the feed industry.

He was presented the award, which is AFIA’s highest honor and given to elite members of the US animal food industry who have provided outstanding support, at the May board of directors meeting.

“Richard played a major role in shaping the AFIA into the successful organization that it is today,” said Leah Wilkinson, vice president of public policy and education at the AFIA. “Richard prided himself on ensuring that our industry’s voice was heard and considered during several shifts in regulatory programs. No one has provided as much expert advice to the animal food industry over their career as Richard Sellers.”

Sellers, who retired in 2018, joined the AFIA in 1991. He oversaw the AFIA’s legislative and regulatory efforts, growing the team from a team of two to the seven individuals it is today. He was the industry’s advocate before the Food and Drug Administration, state feed control agencies, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and Congress, and relayed information to AFIA’s membership to help them comply with all state and federal feed laws and regulations. Sellers served as the staff contact for the AFIA Aquaculture, Nutrition and Feed Regulatory Committees during his tenure, impacting many individuals through those roughly 160 committee meetings he staffed over the years. 

During his career, he was a part of or advocated for industry during several monumental changes and shifts in authorities and regulation of the industry, including: the Animal Drug Availability Act, which overhauled animal drug approvals, medicated feed mill licensing, Veterinary Feed Directive and the Food Safety Modernization Act and its regulations. He guided the industry through the finding of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Europe, the resulting feed ban regulations and inspections and then the finding of BSE in the United States in 2003. He helped develop the current model pet food regulations by AAFCO and oversaw the updates of numerous state commercial feed laws.

He maintains the status of a registered professional animal scientist, where he still serves in a leadership capacity in the local Washington, DC, US, chapter. Sellers has a master’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Arkansas and a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Memphis. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and helped villagers in Nepal learn about poultry management, health and nutrition.

Sellers is active in his church, where he serves in many volunteer and leadership positions and has taught Sunday School for many years. Sellers and his wife, Marifran, are parents of Edie and John and grandparents.