AFIA holds 1st executive leadership summit
At its first-ever Executive Leadership Summit on Oct. 19-20, the American
Feed Industry Association (AFIA) brought the industry's most influential leaders
in the industry together.
The Honorable Bruce Knight, undersecretary of marketing
and regulatory programs at USDA, keynoted the event by focusing on
the Department's "Vision for U.S. Agriculture." He provided an optimistic
perspective on the U.S. Farm bill
saying that he has never seen "a better climate for meaningful reform." "These
reforms," he indicated, "are required to provide the new policies that will lead
us into the next century." The undersecretary complimented AFIA on input it
provided toward composing the new farm bill. "What we must do is to find the
right balances between feed and fuel that will benefit everyone."
subject of trade, Undersecretary Knight also applauded AFIA for contributions to
recent free trade agreements. These involved Columbia, Peru, Panama and Korea.
"These are extremely important to agriculture," he said. "Exports can never
guarantee prosperity; but you can never have prosperity here without
A blue ribbon panel followed on "Bio-Fuels
Effects on Global Food Production" featuring Dr. Dermot Hayes, professor,
pioneer chair in agribusiness, Department of Economics, Iowa State University.; Bill Jones,
chairman of Pacific Ethanol, Inc.; and Richard L. Bond, president/CEO, Tyson Foods
. Panel members agreed that the nation's oil policy must be aimed at
reducing dependency on foreign supplies. But, the U.S. still needs an
agricultural policy that generates all food necessary for human consumption.
Tyson President Bond stated that the nation must keep its "playing
fields level and still look at all ways of reducing our dependency on foreign
oil. Yet, we must be very careful in the kinds of demands government places on
the industry. We cannot afford to lose our crop advantage; otherwise we will end
up importing food."
Trends in food
A second panel
focused on "Trends Driving the Food Business." Larry DeVries, vice president
concept and menu development, McDonald's Corporation said that "glocal" is the
term he used to describe the world as becoming one interconnected neighborhood.
The changes that drive the corporations are consumer trends and concerns. He
underlined three Ts that will determine the food manufacturer's future as being:
time, taste and trust. DeVries singled out "traceability of products" as a
crucial issue. "Sustainability is critical for us: assured supply, brand trust
and doing the right thing. We must continue to supply high quality ingredients;
but, need your (the feed industry's) help."
At the second
day of the summit, Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director for the Center of Veterinary
Medicine, FDA reviewed the
recent melamine crisis
and lessons learned
from it. He noted that 60% of all imports FDA regulates are in the form of feed
or food. This translates to over 10 million entries per year. Sundlof stated
that his agency needs good scientific support from industry, like that which was
provided in the melamine crisis, and lots of help from stakeholders in those
He noted that a new food
protection plan is due out soon containing changes to deal with a variety of
food safety issues and that the resulting effort will need cooperation from the
private sector to facilitate this plan. A lot of these issues, he reported, are
consistent with those AFIA identified in its Safe
Feed/Safe Food Certification Program
. "AFIA is ahead of
the curve in this crucial area," he
Deborah Stafford, supervisory special agent, joint
terrorism task force, Federal Bureau of Investigation closed the summit.
Stafford covered past terrorists' acts, commenting on a number of issues and
possible scenarios involving such concerns as Avian Influenza, Bovine Spongiform
Encephalopathy and Food and Mouth Disease. She complimented AFIA on development
which were the
first presented by industry to the Department of Homeland Security's forerunner
agency within USDA.
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