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Animal AgTech Summit to accelerate action for healthy animals
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Animal AgTech Summit to accelerate action for healthy animals and environmental stewardship

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Production resiliency, methane reduction and on-farm automation are the three key pillars that continue to dominate innovation focus across the global livestock industry.

Major players in the space are fully focused on new strategies to advance animal welfare, promote environmental stewardship, and attract the necessary funding to support sustainable food production. So, how will this shape the year ahead?

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) published a report in December 2023 – ‘Pathways Towards Lower Emissions’ – showing the multitude of opportunities to reduce livestock’s emission share in the global food industry. Critical insights included animal feed composition, improving efficiency through genetics, feed, animal health, soil sequestration and reducing enteric fermentation.1

All these strategies, in one way or another, need investment and financial expertise for the animal protein space to play its part in the green transition of the agri-food sector.

2023 was a tough year for companies across the world as prices and interest rates rose. Investment into nearly all industries fell, and farming was no different. Animal nutrition and health companies, protein producers, and start-ups have all had to reprioritise budgets. However, there are reasons to be hopeful.

The FAO report noted that livestock’s share of global emissions had fallen, and in some areas at least, the wheels started turning.1​ In January 2023, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation backed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures invested $12m for Rumin8.2 ​By the end of the year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had granted BiomEdit $4.5m for methane reduction, and the Bezos Earth Fund launched its Global Methane Hub.3​ As some of the world’s most influential funds begin to turn their attention to the role of livestock farming in the food value chain, the sector was finally featured at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in a significant way that matched the scale of its emissions. 

Investment in the alternative proteins sector also slowed as figures for novel products failed to meet the predictions of previous years. The diversification of protein sources retains a strong potential to lower the overall environmental impact of the food industry. However, in a sector where production is as heavily interconnected as agri-food, this could be a chance for companies and investors to accelerate the reduction of emissions in animal protein production and work towards efficient use of land and resources to feed the planet.

Certainly, many entrepreneurs think so. Tough economic conditions haven’t stopped a wave of start-ups making their mark. Many are looking to reduce enteric methane emissions, but lots more looking at novel feed sources, soil measurement and sequestration, or increasing the understanding and impact of the microbiome. As we move through 2024, the solutions demanded in the FAO report are already emerging. Now they need to be introduced and scaled, which is easier said than done.

Introducing new practices, technologies and products takes time and investment, but also requires meaningful industry collaboration and commitment, from the farmer to the government. The strong biotech sector in the US continues to provide an almost annual supply of the next innovators looking to improve animal health and its effect on welfare, productivity and sustainability.

These entrepreneurs, and their corporate counterparts, will have welcomed the news from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the regulator launches its new program to accelerate the development of veterinary products through assistance with regulatory hurdles, facilitating research and development (R&D) programs and building knowledge and understanding of key scientific advancements in the sector.

With plenty of work to do, the programs, funding and technology breakthroughs in animal proteins make 2024 an exciting year for the industry.

Advancing these goals, the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit in San Francisco, March 18-19, will bring together an international group of over 500 livestock producers, animal health, nutrition and feed companies, tech developers, investors and start-ups to share the best practices and commercial opportunities on climate-smart food production, innovations in animal health and nutrition, and creating practical and actionable insights from on-farm data.

The biggest industry names are among the line-up of over 70 speakers at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis, including:

  • Kyle McKinney​ VP of Innovation, Alltech
  • Karen Christensen​ SVP of Merchandising for Perishables & Quality Standards, Whole Foods
  • Mike Leventini​ SVP Live Production & General Manager, Perdue Farms
  • Rimma Driscoll​ EVP & Head of Global Strategy, Commercial & Business Development, Zoetis
  • Frank Mitloehner​ Professor, UC Davis
  • Tristan Colonius​ Chief Veterinary Officer & Deputy Director for Science Policy, FDA
  • Cristina Rohr​ Managing Director, S2G Ventures
  • Darrin Montiero​ VP Sustainability & Membership, California Diaries
  • Rosemary Sifford​ Deputy Administrator Veterinary Services & Chief Veterinary Officer, USDA APHIS
  • Lars Bergmann​ EVP Digital Services, DeLaval
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An extended program offers more interactive content and time for networking. The first day of the summit features an array of expert panels, fireside chats, start-up pitching, a busy exhibition and 1-1 meetings hub.

Opening Panel

The summit program opens on Monday, March 18 with a market-defining discussion titled ‘Building Collaboration around Innovative Solutions in Animal Health’. High-profile industry leaders including USDA APHIS, Perdue Farms and Zoetis will explore the best approaches to animal health and nutrition including novel and traditional pharmaceuticals, and feed additives.

The first question shaping this discussion concerns strategies employed to facilitate greater collaboration between animal health companies, start-ups, investors, and food producers. The aim is to advance the development of new treatments for animal health.

Responding to growing concerns about zoonotic diseases within the general public, the second question addresses specific measures that food producers can adopt, with the goal of establishing a more resilient animal farming system and secure supply chain that reflects a broader commitment to public health and sustainability.

Another discussion will explore how animal nutrition and feed additive producers can actively contribute to reducing the necessity for medical interventions in animals. This emphasises the role of preventative measures and nutritional strategies in ensuring animal wellbeing.

And finally, focusing on the escalating threat of antimicrobial resistance to both animal and human health, this discussion will concentrate on how understanding animal health can help to mitigate the reliance on antibiotics and antiparasitic medications.

Key sessions

  • Breakfast Briefing​ Building Frameworks for Regenerative Animal Agriculture – with The Nature Conservancy, Whole Foods, Verde Farms, Pasturebird, Beatty Canyon Ranch
  • Tools for the Climate Crisis​ Accounting for Emissions and Environmental Impact in Meat and Dairy Production – with Dairy Management Inc., California Diaries, Alltech, Vytelle, UC Davis
  • From Academic Trial to Commercial Use ​How can the Adoption of Methane Inhibitors Be Maximised for Impact? – with CH4 Global, Mootral, C-Lock, Synergraze
  • Finding the Right Funding Models for Start-Ups in Animal AgTech​ With Anterra Capital, S2G Ventures, Fulcrum Global Capital, Paine Schwartz

Day two of the summit breaks into a choice of two themed morning workshops focused on new approaches to advance Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) systems and climate-smart practices. With a deep-dive into each topic, delegates will benefit from scene-setting presentations and case studies, followed by interactive group work and shared findings.

Workshop 1: Digital Transition of Animal Agriculture

Extracting the potential from PLF systems: How to ensure quality data that will allow the uptake of new systems and improve data-led decision making.

Workshop 2: Net Zero in Livestock Production

Explore the green transition: How to reduce feed emissions and build the data knowledge required to make informed decisions on the circular economy and regenerative practices.

Afternoon Tour with UC Davis

The summit has partnered with UC Davis to offer a behind-the-scenes tour of its animal agriculture facilities and cutting-edge research on methane reduction. Discover bovine bubbles, greenfeed machines and the milk processing research lab. The tour offers a valuable opportunity for delegates to get up close to the latest innovations in animal agriculture, connect with industry peers, and gather insights to further their own professional objectives.

In an exclusive interview, UC Davis’ Professor Frank Mitloehner shares his perspectives on methane reduction practices, the use of remote sensing technologies to measure the climate impact of livestock, and what to expect from the guided tour with UC Davis faculty experts.4

Networking opportunities

The Animal AgTech Innovation Summit presents powerful networking opportunities with breakfasts, lunches, a drinks reception, and a dedicated 1-1 meetings hub for scheduled meetings at private tables. Delegates are invited to start networking through the app when it launches two weeks before the event, connecting in advance to exchange contacts and add meetings to their itinerary.

With over 500 senior industry leaders from across the animal agriculture landscape gathered in one place, the summit is a paramount opportunity for strategic players and innovators to share valuable experiences, uncover new solutions and create new partnerships across meat and dairy supply chains.

The summit is co-located in the same week with two other market-leading summits – World Agri-Tech (March 19-20) and Future Food-Tech (March 21-22) – offering even greater value networking and market insights for those seeking opportunities across the wider agri-food ecosystem.

Dates: ​March 18 – March 19, 2024
Register Now.

Find out more about the line-up of over 70 speakers here​.

The Animal AgTech, World Agri-Tech and Future Food-Tech summits are organised by Rethink Events, a William Reed company.

References

1. ​Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. New FAO report maps pathways towards lower livestock emissions.​ 
2.​ Rumin8. Rumin8 secures investment from Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Harvest Road Group in Phase 2 seed funding round.
3.​ FeedNavigator. Gates Foundation backing BiomEdit’s work on methane blockers for beef and dairy cows.
4.​ Animal AgTech Innovation Summit. 3 Minutes with Frank Mitloehner, UC DAVIS.