ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) said on March 18 that it hosted a record setting Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., March 11-13. There were more than 625 industry representatives in attendance, up from last year’s 535 conference participants. 

The two-day conference provides information on 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 focused on feeding the world’s growing population by 2050, the importance of engaging in sustainable practices, biosecurity measures to protect feed ingredients and also highlighted the timely issue of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus.

“AFIA is proud to offer a conference to industry representatives that not only provides an outlet for networking but provides attendees with up-to-date information on topics at the forefront of the agriculture industry,” said AFIA President and Chief Executive Officer Joel G. Newman. “This year’s attendance was not only record breaking, but conference goers were also an engaged crowd eager to learn more from the speakers and each other.”

The conference opened with Elanco’s Animal Health’s Rob Aukerman, who addressed the serious issue of feeding the growing population, which is predicted to rise to 9 billion people by 2050. He presented three solutions to solving global hunger — choice, innovation and trade —stating that 95% of consumers make their food choices based on taste, cost and nutrition and only 4% shop with local or organic foods in mind. 

Dr. Marty Vanier, Kansas State University, discussed “Biosecurity: Protecting the Feed Ingredient Supply Chain.” She advised the audience to develop a crisis management plan, encouraging them to meet with local emergency response personnel in case a disaster should strike. Vanier also led into the “the hot topic of the week,” PEDv, in preparation for National Pork Producers Council’s Dr. Liz Wagstrom presentation on the virus. Wagstrom explained the difference about this PEDv strain “is we have an entire pig population who’s never seen this virus before,” which, in turn, means there is zero immunity built up. 

Dr. Ronald Plain, University of Missouri, Richard Brock, Brock Associates and Dr. Jay Lehr all presented outlooks and reports relevant to the industry—animal economics report, grain outlook and world food supply outlook, respectively. 

There was reiteration of the importance of producing enough food by 2050. Lehr said after studying biotechnology issues for three decades “there are no downsides” to their use. 

The audience was entertained by comedian Damian Mason in his “Human for the Heart of Agriculture” presentation and the speaker sessions concluded with a talk about “The Truth About Sustainability” by Dr. Frank Mitloehner, University of California, Davis. Mitloehner stressed the importance of emissions control not only on a local or regional level, but also globally by our industry. He said all production methods have an environmental footprint, and the more efficient companies and individuals are, the lower their footprint becomes. 

During the conference, the Institute for Feed Education and Research, or IFEEDER, hosted its fourth annual silent auction. The auction raised $21,260 (up from last year’s total) for the foundation, which aims to address the future of food and feed production through education and research. 

The event attracts livestock, feed and pet food purchasers and suppliers on an international level and offers informational and networking sessions as well as an annual golf tournament on March 14. New to the agenda this year, the AFIA PISC Committee organized a clay shooting event following the conference. Attendees also enjoyed the annual Welcome Reception and Grand Reception, and new members attended an additional reception for networking.