ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, U.S. — Bridging the gap between consumers and farmers, and the importance of complying with the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act were two issues discussed during the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) Purchasing & Ingredient Suppliers Conference March 11-13  in Orlando, Florida, U.S.

The event attracted 586 industry professionals. AFIA said the conference is one of the best opportunities to learn about the current state of the animal feed industry, providing market analyses, outlooks and perspectives and discussions on critical issues affecting the various sectors of the industry.

"The annual PISC conference is one of the many ways AFIA contributes to the agriculture industry and its constituents," said AFIA President and Chief Executive Officer Joel G. Newman. "This event helps strengthen the connection between key industry professionals and provides an opportunity for attendees to communicate the need to feed the growing population."

Keynote speaker Lt. Pete Scobell, United States Navy, retired, captured the audience with his intriguing presentation, "The Patriot Tour," which discussed his leadership experience as a Navy SEAL. He is one of several presenters of the Patriot Tour along with Marcus Luttrell, author of Lone Survivor, and Taya Kyle, widow of former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

A sneak preview of the "Ivy League Farmer," was shown at the conference. The film's initiative is to encourage support of local agriculture communities. Ivy League Farmer will premiere this fall and more details are expected May 1.

Sarah Muirhead, editor and publisher of Feedstuffs, discussed "Connecting the Disconnect" and why the industry needs to bridge the gap between farmers and consumers. According to Muirhead, consumers are confused about the multiple messages they receive about their food and it is up to the agriculture industry to share its story. Muirhead preaches consumers need transparency, both negative and positive, to understand the industry and form a foundation for trust.

"Most people don't really want to know the truth. They just want that constant reassurance that what they believe is the truth," said Muirhead.

However, she said both parties, industry and consumers, need to do a better job of understanding where each other are coming from.

Richard Brock, Brock Associates, and Dr. Christopher Hurt, Purdue University, presented an outlook and report relevant to the industry – grain outlook and animal economics report, respectively. Brock agreed with Muirhead's perception equals reality statement, saying "The most successful companies have been built on perception versus reality."

Brian McCluskey, U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, presented an update on the porcine epidemic virus and the preliminary steps taken to prevent the disease from reemergence. Henry Turlington, AFIA director of quality and manufacturing regulatory affairs, discussed the recent changes to FSMA and what feed manufacturers should expect with the implementation of the new law coming in August.
During the conference, the Institute for Feed Education & Research, or IFEEDER, hosted its fifth annual silent auction. The auction raised more than $24,000, up nearly $3,000 from the 2014 total for the foundation, which aims to address the future of food and feed production through education and research.