IPPE 2018
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The 2018 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) packed a big punch with an agenda full of major announcements, award winners, educational programming and high-ranking speakers, including U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Suppliers were happy to connect with the 30,678 visitors from around the world – 124 countries were represented – and showcase their latest and greatest products and services during the event Jan. 30-Feb. 1 in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) released the findings of two industry-first studies outlining the economic impact of the U.S. feed industry and providing a breakdown of the top feed ingredients. AFIA leaders said both studies will be vital tools for the industry.

AFIA’s public charity, the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), explained it has recently launched a project to analyze whether certain salmonella serotypes are present in feed. The industry doesn’t think salmonella is a threat to animal feed but this study will give it the data and scientific analyses to back up that hypothesis.

During the Poultry Market Intelligence Forum, Perdue vowed to take down regulatory hurdles and asked the audience to contact USDA with specific policies it finds burdensome.

With so much content and the possibility connecting with thousands of potential customers, the IPPE is a top choice for feed processing and grain handling equipment suppliers.

“It’s become one of our two main shows and it is our main show for seeing international customers,” said Mike Resner, senior applications engineer with Essmueller, Laurel, Mississippi, U.S. “A lot of people come into Atlanta from overseas that we only get to see once a year.”

International business accounts for about 25% of Essmueller’s overall business. With its location close to New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S., the company is able to containerize many of its products for shipping overseas. Essmueller was showcasing its Abel slide gates at the show, a product that it bought in 2016 and moved manufacturing from Wisconsin to Mississippi.

Sweet Manufacturing Co.’s Brandon Fultz said it’s nice the show attracts customers from around the world, which saves the company the expense of international travel. One trend the Springfield, Ohio, U.S.-based company is noticing are requests for customization.

“We have our core line of what we offer and we’re seeing customers ask to add different features,” Fultz said. “A lot of it has to do with safety and keeping the process flowing. Being a smaller company, we are a little more agile and can do the customization.”

Chief Agri, based in Kearney, Nebraska, U.S., said people are starting to spend money, partly because of changes to the tax law.

“Owners and feed mill managers are looking to use the money they’re getting back on their taxes,” said Paul Allen, Lemanco product manager with Chief. “They’re either hiring people or buying new equipment.”

Internationally he noted there’s been growth in Central and South Americas as well as Russia and Ukraine.

Ag Growth Industries (AGI), based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, said it’s seeing growth in Brazil, where it’s in the process of commissioning a new 300,000-square-foot manufacturing facility.

“We’re seeing great growth potential in Brazil,” said Shawn Conway, general manager, AGI VIS. “The new facility is getting orders on a regular basis.”

In addition to Brazil, AGI has manufacturing and supply networks throughout Canada and in Italy, Australia, South Africa and the U.K. AGI has been able to spread its network in part due to multiple acquisitions over the last several years. The most recent was CMC Industries and Junge. Diversification also helps the company when business is slow.

“We’re looking across the globe and making sure we are strong in all the areas of the world,” Conway said. “If there’s price depression in the U.S., we can focus on the Ukraine or Australia. We need to keep our prices and manufacturing costs-effective, so we can give great priced and quality equipment to our customers.”

US Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wants input on which regulations are impeding agriculture businesses. 
Photo by Susan Reidy.

Perdue takes on regulations

U.S. Ag Secretary Perdue said during his IPPE speech that he wants to make it easier for agriculture to thrive and grow so he’s asked for help from businesses in identifying specific regulatory burdens. His vision is to make the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) a “help mate” or partner with agriculture businesses, in part by reducing the regulatory hurdles they face.

“I’m speaking here today but I mostly want to listen,” he said. “My goal at USDA is to be the most efficient, the most effective, the most customer-focused agency in the federal government. While we regulate you, we want to treat you as customers, helping us partner together for a better product that we can be proud of.”

He told the audience to visit usda.gov and click on the regulatory input link on the homepage.

“Tell us specifically what it is that doesn’t make sense for you,” he said. “It could be a regulation that’s been there for years or something we’ve done recently. Help us understand how we can help you in a common-sense way to make a safe, sound, proud industry even more proud and even safer.”

Perdue is doing a lot of listening across the country, visiting 30 states in the eight months since he was sworn in as ag secretary.

“Our role as policymakers is to create a fertile environment for you all to do what you do best,” he said. “We understand that regulations are necessary to create a fair and balanced playing field between the consumers and the producers.”

President Trump has asked his Cabinet that for every new regulation that goes on the books, two get cut. In fact, they’ve been able to cut 22 regulations for every new one, Perdue said.

“We have a regulatory reform group in the USDA look at all the regulations we’ve layered on,” he said. “We’ve looked at how we can unpeel those and remove the productivity blanket off of businesses.”

Another key issue Perdue addressed was trade and its importance to the agriculture industry. A modernized NAFTA system that both the United States and its partners can live with is vitally important, he said.

Canada and Mexico are great trading partners and the logistics made a trade agreement among the three beneficial. However, those benefits must be equal for all partners. “The president understood the fact that both countries to a large degree have mined and utilized this great consumption economy in the middle of them to the detriment many times of our wealth and our productivity by virtue of trade deficits,” he said.

Perdue said he believes the partners can reach a modernized, free and fair-trade NAFTA agreement, but everybody has to come to the table.

IPPE 2018 2017 AFIA/Feedstuffs Feed Facility of the Year
Bill Bray (left), plant manager of the Collins facility, accepted the award, co-sponsored by AFIA and Feedstuffs.

Feed Mill of the Year

Sanderson Farms of Collins, Mississippi, U.S., was named the 2017 Feed Facility of the Year during AFIA’s Feed Education Program on Jan. 31 during IPPE.

Bill Bray, plant manager of the Collins facility, accepted the award, co-sponsored by AFIA and Feedstuffs. The award recognizes overall excellence in feed manufacturing operations, emphasizes the company’s commitment to safety, quality, regulatory compliance and employee development and highlights its overall operating efficiencies.

Bray said Sanderson Farms employees are included in daily conversations about safety, and the company’s training programs allow supervisors to assist employees by providing personal attention. Facility personnel are encouraged to offer suggestions for improvements while reviewing and implementing change.

He said delegating authority to those who are the most knowledgeable about a particular area of the operation was one of the keys to success at the Sanderson Farms plant.

“Depending on what we’re doing, the manager isn’t always the best one to make a decision,” he said. “It may be a person who has been on the job 10 years and we give him the opportunity to make those decisions and make him accountable for the wins and losses. It works, and it is a team effort.”

Sanderson Farms’ Collins facility produces more than 400,000 tons of poultry feed each year. As one of Sanderson Farms’ eight feed mills, the facility processes 455 acres-worth of corn each day. It also serves as the grain delivery point for the company’s Laurel, Mississippi, facility.

Bray said Sanderson Farms reviews a variety of metrics daily, weekly, quarterly and annually to maximize efficiency and maintain or increase performance. These metrics include inbound ingredient specifications, ingredient moisture, mixer analyses on specified ingredients, weekly tons of feed produced, labor costs, feed conversion rates, utility usage and performance, and delivery costs.

“Sanderson Farms demonstrates excellence in each of the areas the Feed Facility of the Year program measures,” said Joel Newman, president and chief executive officer of the AFIA. “They quickly rose to the top of this year’s competition and we are happy to present the company with this award.”

Formerly the Feed Mill of the Year Award, the AFIA and Feedstuffs modified the program in 2016, and it is now recognized as a first-class benchmarking program for the animal food industry. Representing each of the several types of feed manufacturing facilities within AFIA’s membership, the new format compares and recognizes top-performing facilities in four categories: commercial dry livestock, integrator, liquid feed and premix. From those, the Feed Facility of the Year award is selected.

Salmonella research

Also during the Feed Education Program, AFIA members gave an overview of the latest environmental, food safety and workplace safety rules and regulations affecting the U.S. feed manufacturing industry, including the latest guidance from the Food and Drug Administration on compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Nearly 100 feed facility managers and mill personnel attended the four-hour seminar.

Attendees also heard about IFEEDER’s project to analyze whether certain salmonella serotypes are present in feed.

In conjunction with the University of Arkansas, IFEEDER has launched the salmonella research project, which is aimed at helping the animal feed industry better understand if the bacteria are prevalent at their manufacturing facilities so that it can make more informed decisions on what additional safety measures, if any, should be taken to promote feed safety and protect animal health.

AFIA said the industry has long-believed that salmonella is not a threat in food for animals as it is for people due to the types of grains and ingredients used and the stringent regulatory procedures and processes in place to avoid contamination.

“This research will test that hypothesis so that we have the data and scientific analyses we need to continue making safe animal feed for America’s 9.6 billion food-producing animals a year,” AFIA said.

Richard Sellers, senior vice-president of public policy and education for AFIA, told those in attendance at the education program in Atlanta that the AFIA is asking that 250 U.S. animal food mills that product livestock feed to voluntarily submit samples of their commercial feed to the University of Arkansas for analysis.

He noted that Kansas State University, another partner in the project, is developing guidance materials for the volunteers to explain how to collect the samples and will be providing sampling kits. Sellers said the AFIA is hoping to receive up to 500 samples from the industry by this spring.

He said that the individual mills will not be notified whether the samples they sent in tested positive or negative for the bacteria, nor will the results be made public. However, the university will provide a full report on the cumulative results, hopefully by the end of the summer.Feed mills that are interested in providing samples for the research project should contact kchung@afia.org.

feed for chicken

Feed studies

AFIA released findings from two new reports outlining the economic impact of the U.S. feed industry and providing a breakdown of the top feed ingredients. Both will be vital tools for the industry, AFIA leaders said.

The reports, commissioned by the AFIA and the IFEEDER, are the first of their kinds for the feed industry. Results of the year-long studies were released during the IPPE event.

“It’s a powerful tool,” Sellers said in an interview with World Grain. “It’s remarkable that we have species and state and ingredient data.”

The AFIA will use the reports throughout 2018 in discussions with policymakers, allied groups and media. Information is also available to AFIA members and can be broken down by state and congressional district.

“Our members can go online when they’re going to visit their congressman and give them paperwork on the value and impact of the feed industry,” Sellers said.

Overall, the animal food manufacturing industry contributed $297.1 billion in total U.S. sales in 2016, including $102 billion in value-added contributions and more than $22.5 billion in local, state and national taxes, according to the economic contribution report.

Five states — Missouri, California, Texas, Pennsylvania and Iowa — contributed a combined $105.2 billion in total sales and $8.3 billion in local, state and national taxes.

The report listed several factors that play a role in the animal food industry’s ongoing economic output and said the odds are good the industry will adapt and grow stronger.

The other report on feed ingredients and feed demand showed that 236.3 million tons of animal food were fed to nine animal species. Sellers said the AFIA had in the past estimated that total at 187 million tons.

It used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service on the number of animals processed for food and would estimate a general diet per animal species.

Using this method, it could be difficult to determine how much beef and dairy cattle actually ate, likely accounting for the AFIA’s lower number, Sellers said.

But with these studies, completed by Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS), an economic research and analysis firm, the best economic technology available was used, he said. DIS worked with 25 industry and university experts to determine the specific diets fed to animals at various stages of their lives and adjusted them for regional dietary differences. According to the report, the top three feed consumers are beef cattle (74.7 million tons), broilers (56.3 million tons) and hogs (46.3 million tons). Top ingredients include corn (118.8 million tons); soybean meal (30.1 million tons); DDGs (29.8 million tons); wheat products (4 million tons); and animal proteins (1.3 million tons).

||| Next page: Richard Sellers Reflects on 27-year career with AFIA |||

Richard Sellers

Richard Sellers reflects on 27-year career with AFIA

In his 27 years with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), Richard Sellers said he has seen the industry consolidate, and grow more technical and fast paced.

“By and large the changes have been mostly technical and fast paced,” said Sellers, senior vice-president of public policy and education, who will be retiring at the end of 2018. “There have been a lot of consolidations. I’ve seen a lot of people come and go.”

Sellers said he had a group of odd jobs that led to another, eventually bringing him to AFIA in 1991. After college at the University of Memphis, he spent two-and-a-half years with the Peace Corps in Nepal, teaching vocational agriculture. He taught families best agricultural practices and was involved in poultry science, working with a small egg-laying operation and learning about nutrition, feed formulation and vaccination.

He enjoyed that work so much that following the Peace Corps, Sellers received a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas and started working on his doctorate. He worked for Winrock Livestock Research and Training Center and then took a regulatory job for seven years.

Sellers joined the AFIA in October 1991 as director of feed control and nutrition and was promoted several times up to his current position.

He remembers waiting two weeks for paper copies of the Federal Register, which are now available daily online.

“The electronic revolution has had an impact on us. We frequently get quoted and asked questions while bills are transpiring,” Sellers said. “We often get quoted into the congressional record.”

Likewise, the industry has become more technical and specific, with new technology and innovative ingredients, all of which must be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“They take more and more time because they are more and more technical, and more and more are coming to the market,” he said. “Companies get a little bit upset by the two to three years it takes and the $1.7 million that they lose.”

But now, under President Trump, there’s a chance some of those burdens may be lessened. During the Obama administration, Sellers said he added three staff members, two of whom he didn’t have a budget for, to keep up with new regulations.

“We were really struggling to keep up with the demand,” Sellers said. “We wrote hundreds of pages of comments to the final proposed rules that came out of FSMA.”

With the election of Trump, Sellers said he has put together a “regulatory revolution wish list.”

“Here we are a year later and we’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “USDA has made more than FDA has, and we’re waiting for things to happen. In the FDA there’s still a lot of holdover from the previous administration, and we’re slowed down by that. But we are getting some positive signs that some of the changes we’re requesting, like opening up the rulemaking in the FSMA and removing some of the electronic records and signature requirements, are being considered. We’ve got three more years to go, who knows what will happen after that.”

Highlights of his career with the AFIA include a few acts such as the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act, 1994, which allowed veterinarians to prescribe extra-label drug use, and the Animal Drug Availability Act, 1996. This act made it so medicated feed mills could be licensed to use any approved animal drug, rather than having to obtain a license for each individual feed.

“It cut down enormously on the paperwork while still maintaining feed safety,” Sellers said.

Leah Wilkinson, currently the vice-president of public policy and education, will take over for Sellers starting in 2019. Sellers he is working with her daily discussing the intricacies of the job. She has good experience and is a critical thinker with a good eye for detail, Sellers said.

“I have a lot of respect for her; she is a dynamo,” he said. “I have no doubt that she’ll do an extraordinary job.”

Sellers said he already has been approached by some companies for retainer work, but he plans to take some time off and enjoy his family.

“AFIA is a great place to work,” Sellers said. “We have a good voice. I remind members that FDA is not going to call them, they’re going to call me and tell me what they need to know. If you’re not a member, where are you going to get that information. We do collectively what individual members can’t do for themselves.”