The end of 2019 and the start of 2020 brought several potential changes for the feed industry and for projects supported by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), including the approval of additional funding for the US Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) to help streamline the feed ingredient submission review process and a renewed focus on biosecurity.
We spoke to Leah Wilkinson, vice president of public policy and education at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, Georgia to hear more about what comes next for the association.
“The passage of an appropriations package for FDA for the Center for Veterinary Medicine – that was huge,” she told us. “We’ve been working on trying to get them more resources to help – that’s one piece of what we need to do to help get the ingredient approval, ingredient review process going more efficiently.”
A study completed by AFIA’s non-profit arm IFEEDER found that ingredient companies lost about $1.75m for every year that approval was delayed for a new ingredient, she said.
Hastening feed ingredient approvals
The Center for Veterinary Medicine reviews applications for new animal feed ingredients, but in recent years they have not had the funding to hire new employees or replace staff that has retired, Wilkinson said.
“It’s $5m dollars and FDA says they’re going to hire about seven to 12 with that money,” she said. “That allows them to get folks, microbiologists, toxicologists and get them some expertise that maybe they haven’t had or haven’t been able to refresh with retirements.”
In the next stage, AFIA will work to “protect” the funding in future budgets, she said. The association will also start working with regulators to address process efficiencies as new employees are being trained and discuss the interpretation of the rules involved with submitting an ingredient for review.
AFIA will continue its work with industry members to improve the quality of submissions for new ingredients, Wilkinson said. “We’ve been working with the industry on making sure that they’re aware of what the requirements are and that they get the package correct the first time because that cuts down on time.”
“It will take [CVM] a while to hire those folks and train them, so they’ve told us, ‘Don’t expect all of a sudden we’re going to start to see all of these ingredient reviews go really quickly’ – they’ve warned us,” she said of what AFIA is hoping to see happen next. “It’s about 12 months to train them, but we’re hopeful that while they’re training them they can look at some of the easy AFFCO [Association of American Feed Control Officials] ingredients or … the straightforward ones.”
In addition to the work on importing the feed ingredient review process in the US, AFIA is also working with regulators and feed associations from Canada and the EU to address multi-jurisdictional feed ingredient approvals, said Wilkinson.
The International Cooperation for Convergence of Technical Requirements for the Assessment of Feed Ingredients (ICCF) is developing guidelines to cut down on the amount of duplication involved when companies try to register products in multiple countries, she said.
“What that really is trying to do is set guidelines so that our companies do one study and it works in all three of those jurisdictions,” she said. “So, if you’re doing a homogeneity study to make sure your mixture, your ingredient is mixed completely that you do it once and that study is accepted in Canada, it is accepted in the US and it is accepted in the EU – that will save our companies a lot of money.”
The guideline project is in its third year at this point. Two guidelines have been completed, a third is nearing completion and a fourth is soon to start a public comment period, Wilkinson said.
At this point, more than 20 topics have been identified as areas for guidance, she added.
“We’ve got a plan for the next 3 years on the topics we want to get going on,” she said. “This is going to be a long-term deal.”
Implementing biosecurity programs
Throughout the year, AFIA will also be continuing to speak with industry members regarding biosecurity, said Wilkinson.
The association released a biosecurity guide last year, she said. There are no plans to update it at this time, but it remains a resource for industry members.
“We’ve been talking to the industry about don’t wait until a foreign animal disease comes to start putting these measures into practice do it now,” she said. “There are measures that can be put in place for foreign animal disease or to prevent transmissions of a domestic disease we have here – we’ll be talking a lot more about the implementation side and putting it into practice.”
The intention is to help the industry establish “multiple hurdles” against diseases, she said.
“It starts with the biosecurity that we have in the mill and the sourcing of the ingredients – whether they be domestic or foreign – knowing those suppliers, knowing how they’re manufacture red, and what are the potential hazards that could come in,” said Wilkinson. “We’re doing that for things other than animal diseases as well – then they look at how do we deliver those ingredients or finished feeds to the different farms, and then what are potential mitigants that could be used – but it’s got to be a multiple hurdle approach.”
Many in the feed industry also have started to use hold times and quarantine times with imported ingredients, she said.
“Manufacturers that are importing ingredients from foreign countries where African Swine Fever exists are holding those ingredients on a voluntary basis based upon the conversations that they’re having with their customers,” she said. “They were willing to take that step even based on limited data to help provide again one more hurdle.”
The use of the hold times is one way that the feed industry has responded to swine producers without having to wait for governmental regulation, she said. “The pork industry asked for the hold times and our industry responded.”