ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — The 2013 Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference (PISC), an annual two-day event of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), concluded March 14 in Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.

A total of 535 attendees from the livestock, feed and pet food industry gathered to learn about the latest issues, events and other matters. AFIA’s Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Committee has sponsored the annual event for many years.

The conference represents one of the best opportunities to learn about the current state of the animal feed industry, providing market analyses, perspectives, hot topics and a host of other valuable tools and information. This year’s topics included social media’s influence on the feed industry, communicating with customers and outlooks on grain, the food supply and ethanol.

“The attendance for this year’s event surpassed all expectations. The Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference is AFIA’s premier event and everything from the caliber of speakers and programs to the attendees continue to exemplify why,” said AFIA president and Chief Executive Officer Joel G. Newman.

On March 13, the conference opened with a message of hope from famous logger and motivational speaker, Bruce Vincent, who suggested that those from the agriculture industry should spend an hour a week toward activism, which includes testifying, writing editorials and making school visits to build a bridge with the younger generation. “If this industry is going to survive, we’re going to have to have to become activists.”

Vincent’s speech was followed by Dr. Nevil Speer, Western Kentucky University, and Sarah Muirhead, Feedstuffs, who both addressed how consumers are influencing the industry, especially in the case of the recent lean finely textured beef (LFTB) issue. 

“LFTB was a game changer; it changed our industry. The way we responded was too little, too late and we probably should’ve seen it coming,” said Speer.

Of the issue, Muirhead said, “Social media made it a hotter topic than it needed to be. The mistruths spread like wildfire.” As for companies without a social networking plan, she advocated making sure a system was in place to handle crises, and stressed the importance of all employees adhering to the same message. 

Year after year, one of the biggest draws to PISC continues to be Richard Brock, Brock Associates, with his annual grain outlook. This year was no different, with the economist opening up the second day of the conference with his ever popular forecast. Dr. Michael Johll, The Johll Consulting Group, followed with a presentation on communicating and maximizing impact with customers. 

The keynote address was given by the esteemed economist and futurist, Dr. Jay Lehr. “We are in the golden age of agriculture. I don’t think we’ll see very hard times again,” said Lehr of increased meat and protein demand due to a growing middle class.

During the conference, the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) hosted its third annual silent auction. The auction raised $20,425 for the foundation, which aims to address the future of food and feed production through education and research. 

“There is a genuine need for IFEEDER. We may only be three years old, but it’s working; we’re getting some traction,” said IFEEDER executive director, Jim Sullivan.

The Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference has been approved for nine continuing education units (CEUs) by the American Registry of Professional Animal Scientists. 

The 2014 Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference will be hosted March 12-14 in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.