Given the feed industry’s worldwide market, it’s important for all global players to cooperate on critical topics such as antimicrobial resistance (AMR), sustainability throughout the production process, and the development of universal standards, said Joel Newman, chief executive officer and president of the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA).

In addition to his duties at AFIA, Newman is serving as the chairman of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) for 2016-17. He previously served as chair of IFIF’s policy committee and as a member of the IFIF board of directors.

World Grain spoke with Newman during the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. One of the biggest changes Newman has seen in his 33 years in the industry – the last 12 with AFIA – is the amount of global impact on the industry.

“There’s nobody in our industry that’s not impacted by it,” he said. “We import a large percentage of our vitamins and other key ingredients. Everybody is impacted by the global market place, and that’s only going to get more significant. The area of new technologies is growing significantly and it’s very much impacted by a global effort.”

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AFIA Newman

Global standards

Bringing new technologies to market globally will acquire approvals from the various countries where they will be used. Streamlining the approval process for feed ingredients is one issue IFIF and other agencies have been working on since 2014. Newman said they reached a “mutually agreeable way to move forward” during the 10th annual International Feed Regulators Meeting (IFRM), which was Jan. 30 in Atlanta.

There’s already a process in place for veterinarian drugs called the Veterinary International Conference on Harmonization (VICH), a tri-lateral agreement between the United States, Japan and the E.U. That model has been adapted as the best approach for moving forward with feed additives, Newman said. The U.S., the E.U. and Canada will hold a kickoff meeting in Brussels on May 2.

“We’ll bring in several other observer countries as we grow and develop this,” he said. “We wanted to find a more standard way to do risk assessment on new products so the portfolio the company submits meets the requirements of a broad group of authorities. Hopefully the ability to streamline things on the government side and industry side will move products through the approval process quicker.”

AFIA also is involved in a project initiated by China with the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO). The ISO/TC-293 project’s goal is the standardization of single feed machine, processing systems and complete production line, including safety, hygienic requirements, environmental protection and specific technical requirements of feed machinery used in feed processing mills.

“There were very limited global representatives involved in the project and we became involved once we were aware of it,” Newman said.

AFIA, along with the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, received $260,112 from the U.S. Department of Commerce in November 2016 to help with the project. Newman said the money will be used to help educate the industry and to support broad participation.

“We really just want to make sure that as this process goes on that there are enough global players there from different areas versus just one voice from one area,” he said.

During the IFRM meeting, participants also addressed AMR, a growing issue that relates to the usage of antibiotics in animal feed. Newman said the group came to a consensus on its position on AMR and how it is going to participate in the broader process.

“We really need to make sure we take the time to gather the scientific data and also the surveillance to understand where AMR is coming from, and what the root causes are,” he said. “That will vary within regions and countries. We need to understand that so we can come up with the most effective solutions.”

It’s not always easy to reach a consensus, but one of the critical roles for IFIF is bringing the right players together to find a solution that benefits all, Newman said. It starts with education: why the issue needs to be addressed and what is happening in each country.

“When we talk about the use of antibiotics in animal production, there are different positions from a number of different regions around the globe,” he said. “Ultimately everyone has the same objective, and that’s to slow down or prevent AMR. It is the process that is being addressed.”

“There have been a number of groups who have already taken a position without good data and say if we just take away use of antibiotics from animal production, we’ll solve the problem. That’s far from an accurate solution. We want to make sure this is being fairly discussed and that fair policies are put in place that get to the root causes.”

AMR is going to bring about a lot of change to the feed industry, Newman said. Part of that is bringing new feed additives to the marketplace that keep the animals healthy and productive while reaching the objectives of reducing AMR.

“There are new products that will help us achieve that,” he said. “The key is getting those products to market, and making sure the approval process is not so onerous or difficult that they’re held up and not available for use by producers.”

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Challenges ahead

Along with AMR, another challenge facing the feed industry globally is maintaining the confidence of consumers. This concern has evolved because a majority of consumers don’t have a good understanding of where their food comes from, Newman said.

“Two percent of the population works in the agriculture sector but 100% of those citizens depend on them to bring them a diverse selection of food choices,” he said. “So it’s really understanding the process that helps them make better decisions.”

The biggest objective, he said, is to maintain choice. In the United States, consumers have a choice of whatever they want to buy in the grocery store and how they want to feed their families.

“They should be able to make those choices,” Newman said. “We don’t want one choice telling everybody else that this is the only right choice. We need to help in that communication process and give them the kind of answers they need to make better decisions. If we don’t speak up, someone will speak up for us.”

The industry is participating in global initiatives that will give consumers and policymakers sound scientific data to make their decisions, Newman said. For example, working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in determining the most accurate methodology to measure greenhouse gas emissions from livestock and poultry,” he said. “In the U.S., it represents less than 4% of the total emissions, which is significantly lower than some sources.”

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feed facility
Newman said they anticipate most of the hazards known or reasonably foreseeable to occur in a feed manufacturing plant will be mitigated by GMPs.
Photo by Adobe Stock. 

FSMA preparation

Feed safety continues to be a high priority in the industry, Newman said, and the U.S. industry is working hard to prepare for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Portions of the act, which is the single largest new regulation for the food and feed industry since 1950, went into effect last fall and more will be introduced in stages during the next four years.

“As the industry has a good, long-term food safety record, this is more of a continuous improvement process,” he said.

Implementing the rule is a tremendous undertaking for the feed industry and also the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA), which has oversight of the act. Prior to FSMA, FDA’s primary responsibility in the feed industry was auditing and ensuring that medicated feed plants were operating properly.

“That was roughly 1,000 medicated feed plants,” Newman said. “That’s now expanded to all 6,000 feed manufacturing plants, all the ingredient processing plants and add on top of the transportation and importation of feed ingredients into the U.S. It’s huge in every aspect, so there is a phased implementation for very good reasons.”

Implementation of the Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) portion that is being phased in, depending on the size of a facility, seems to be going well, he said.

“One reason for that is we already had GMPs for medicated feed,” Newman said. “That’s not new to the industry so it is easier piece for them to undertake.”

AFIA has hired the University of Minnesota to complete a hazard analysis of typical ingredients and processes associated with the manufacturing and distribution of animal feed and pet food. A large part of FSMA is identifying what are the known or reasonably foreseeable food safety risks for each individual plant, and then developing a food safety plan to mitigate those risks.

“That’s a big undertaking for each operation to do,” Newman said. “It’s also a huge undertaking for the FDA inspectors. They’ve gone from walking in with a checklist to having to look at your food safety plant and what is manufactured in the plant to determine if the plan is realistic.”

Newman said they anticipate most of the hazards known or reasonably foreseeable to occur in a feed manufacturing plant will be mitigated by GMPs. That will be different for a pet food or specialty plant.

“What we are trying to do is make sure the requirements for successfully implementing this rule are fair to each portion of the industry and practical for implementation,” Newman said.