The year is 1909.
British explorer Ernest Shackleton finds the magnetic South Pole; the Wright brothers deliver the first airplane to the U.S. Army; the United States Mint issues the first Lincoln penny. Shortly after President Taft is inaugurated during a March snowstorm which dumped 10 inches of snow on the nation’s capital, a group of 18 feed manufacturers gathered in Chicago and agreed to form a new organization called the American Feed Manufacturers Association.
After that first meeting, the AFMA consummated its existence at the group’s first annual convention a few months later on May 25, 1909, and have been meeting annually ever since.
From those humble beginnings in Chicago, the organization now known as the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), has grown and evolved into a powerhouse advocate for the feed industry and its many partners. That growth, constantly fueled and fired by the vision of those founding fathers, is based on a solid set of core beliefs built around service, education and cooperation.
“Much of what we [AFIA] are about today can be directly attributed to why the organization was created in the first place,” says Joel Newman, president, AFIA. “That mission is to represent the total feed industry in the best way possible to ensure a productive and beneficial environment in which to do business.”
Newman leads a staff of about a dozen professionals who represent the business, legislative, regulatory and international interests of the animal feed industry, as well as the companies that supply the industry along with other key partner groups.
Four membership promises
Several years ago, AFIA moved to restructure itself as a means to be more responsive and better able to meet the needs of a rapidly changing industry. As part of that redesign and new model, AFIA made four promises to its members. These commitments are based on what AFIA members have expressed as most important to their needs and business operations. Each promise contains multiple sub-statements that support the primary covenant. The four guarantees include:
1. AFIA members will have a voice as part of the Total Feed Industry
— Members join with representatives from all industry segments, gathered around the AFIA table, to take part in creating one powerful, united voice.
2. AFIA will provide to its member companies expert legislative and regulatory leadership and representation
— Membership offers participation on decisions made about critical legislative and regulatory issues impacting their businesses.
3. AFIA will make available to its members confidential staff expertise
— Individualized personal support services are available upon request.
4. AFIA provides its members access to unparalleled member services
— Unique opportunities are offered for business leadership, education and networking forums
While these four promises were created as a result of a more recent effort to realign its operating model, the spirit behind these promises has been embodied in decades of active and effective service.
Achievements over the years
Richard Sellers, AFIA’s vice president for Feed Regulation and Nutrition, has been with AFIA for 17 years and is keenly aware of the organization’s list of achievements during its history.
He notes that after its founding in 1909, the move to coalesce the feed industry began in earnest, so the mission the group carries today — representing the total feed industry — truly has its roots in the early days of AFIA.
“The early mission wasn’t to rewrite rules and regulations but to create an organization that worked in tandem to bring about rules and regulations that benefited the industry and its customers,” Sellers notes. “It was created to bind manufacturers together to level the playing field and prove to the government and the world it could move in a united fashion. I feel strongly that the staff, leadership and legions of industry partners who have served through the years have stayed true to that vision.”