In 2022, the US animal feed industry made great strides in resolving many longstanding regulatory bottlenecks within the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – bottlenecks that have resulted in inefficient and lengthy delays, preventing new feed ingredients from making it to market.
The American Feed Industry Association’s advocacy efforts over the last few years have resulted in Congress increasing funding to the FDA to properly staff its ingredient review team. These increased resources allowed the agency to hire 12 additional staff. Lately, our members have shared that their products have experienced shorter review times, and we hope this means the agency will eliminate much of its submissions backlog in 2023.
We are also seeing the tides turning in a positive direction on another critical AFIA priority – label claims for animal food ingredients.
Since 1998, the FDA has narrowly interpreted what constitutes a 'food' versus a 'drug', unnecessarily delaying the review process for feed ingredients with certain benefits such as animal well-being, animal productivity or reduction of environmental emissions by classifying them as drugs instead of food.
As the science has become clearer that these ingredients work solely within the gastrointestinal tracts or on the digesta of animal species and are, in fact, food, the agency is reviewing its regulatory approach to be more in-line with that of its international counterparts.
Last fall, the FDA heard overwhelming support from a range of stakeholders, including industry, Congress, and the Biden administration, for modernizing its regulatory policy on label claims.
We expect that in 2023, the agency will share a proposed revision that will bring its outdated label claims policy into the 21st century. This will allow our companies to more accurately market their products to American farmers, giving them the tools they need to drive the US closer to meeting its ambitious methane reduction and food security goals by 2030.
'Even with the progress we have made, more work needs to be done to ensure our farmers and ranchers are properly equipped to effectively compete in a changing global marketplace.'
Sustainability goals, labor
Fulfilling ambitious food security and sustainability goals is also getting a leg up from efforts of the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), AFIA’s public charity.
Through IFEEDER, we are working to equip feed manufacturers with the tools they need to advance their sustainability journeys. In late January, IFEEDER will release a suite of materials that companies from all segments of the animal food industry can utilize to develop their internal sustainability programs, answer customer questions, respond to stakeholders’ demands and communicate their stories to audiences everywhere.
Looking forward, we know that despite progress in these important areas, ongoing supply chain and labor uncertainties will continue to create hurdles for many within the global food and agriculture chain.
At the AFIA, we continue to advocate for smart measures that entice the next generation of workers to join the industry, provide necessary training resources that support worker retention, and identify and resolve disruptions in concert with state and federal leaders as quickly as they arise.
I am confident that our industry will remain resilient and continue to bring forward game-changing solutions to maintain the US leadership in animal nutrition well into the future.