“This year has been an incredibly busy year for our industry – mainly due to the first round of implementation dates for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) animal food rule, which affect companies with more than 500 employees,” said Richard Sellers, senior vice president of public policy and education with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA).
“Preparation for the changes to animal drug regulation via the veterinary feed directive for the January 1 implementation date have caused lots of activity also. Facilities of all levels have been taking this year to prepare for the changes both these rules bring.”
Four of the seven FSMA rules will have an effect on the feed industry, he said. But the recognition from the FDA that feed mills will have few preventive controls remains a positive part of the legislation.
“AFIA believes preventive controls are very costly and that the risks from most hazards can be mitigated by pre-requisite programs such as purchasing agreements or by current good manufacturing practices,” he said.
GM labelling bill a 'high point'
There also were some high points regarding the passage of regulations regarding biotechnology or the use of genetically modified (GM) ingredients in feed, he said. “A major high point, or win if you will, for animal food and the agriculture industry was the passage of the GM labeling bill – it served as an affirmation to the American people that genetically modified products are safe and nutritious, just like their counterparts,” he added.
“A result the animal food industry was particularly pleased with was products derived from animals fed GM ingredients are not required to display a label,” said Sellers. “State preemption in the bill does apply to all food – the term 'food' being all encompassing (human and animal) by federal definition – thereby ensuring one national standard.”
There also were some challenges throughout the year especially for the farming community, said Randy Gordon, National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) president. “Toward the end of the year, despite the strong dollar, we’re seeing heavy demand, so that’s positive,” he added.
“It was a tough year for the farm community, for cash flow but these are all cyclical, and we’re hoping for strong demand into the coming year,” he said. “On balance it was a challenging year, but it’s ending on kind of an upbeat note particularly on the export side.”
There also was progress toward the end of the year regarding the government’s efforts to address low-level presence of biotech traits in feed or grain shipments, he said.
“We’re pleased that the US government is taking a more active role in committing to the low level presence [idea],” he said. “There’s real emphasis now in trying to elevate that dialogue internationally.”