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September 12, 2013 | By Steven Kilger

IFEEDER Refines its Mission

Finds its executive director after an extensive search.

On June 13th the United Nations released a revised study that predicts 9.6 billion people by the year 2050, up from approximately 7 billion today. Over the past few years this number has become a rallying cry for agriculture, and a catalyst for progress and change. The goal to feed over 2.5 billion more people has been the driving force behind everything that the group IFEEDER has accomplished — it is what motivates them to continue to accomplish more. During an extensive search to find an executive director, IFEEDER’s board of trustees started to reevaluate how best to achieve that goal.

“We want to be good stewards of the money donated to IFEEDER and use it for the best interest of the industry,” Bruce Crutcher president of Trouw Nutrition USA and IFEEDER board of trustees member, explains. “IFEEDER has been in operation for a period of time now that allows you to evaluate the projects done to date and get feedback from donors on the value of these projects.”

The mission of IFEEDER will not change, “To sustain the future of food and feed production through education and research.”  A statement that recognizes that figuring out a way to double our farm output is only part of the battle. The second part will be to explain to the public why it is necessary to devote resources towards doing so. IFEEDER has no plans to change its two-step approach, just clarify it.

“To sustain the future of food and feed production through education and research is still as relevant today as it ever was, and is a mission that appeals very strongly to our core base of donors and potential donors – those parties in or affiliated with the feed and pet food industries,” says Dean Warras president of Prince Agri Products, Inc. and IFEEDER board of trustees chairman.

Now, IFEEDER is clearing up how their mission will be implemented, deciding that research comes first, and the education portion follows.

“What we did was bring more focus around the research and education pieces of our policy.  With the previous policies, it was really not clear whether research or education was leading,” notes Crutcher. “After discussion with the IFEEDER board and others, we decided that research should be leading in most initiatives of IFEEDER, and then we educate the target audience(s) based upon the findings from that research.”

This focus will help IFEEDER prioritize research that gives immediate results and benefits to their donors. This keeps the donations coming in and allows the funding of more projects.

New director

IFEEDER not only has a more clarified mission, but a new face to go along with it. The new executive director, Ken Thomas, is a successful business man with a background in animal agriculture. This background gives Thomas a keen perspective on not only the importance of IFEEDER’s goal, but how to sell that goal to others.

“Ken Thomas brings a great amount of relevant experience and superb skill set to IFEEDER,” Dean Warras explains. “He spent the majority of his career in animal health and nutrition before building a very successful real estate business in the Kansas City area for the last several years.  Ken’s passion for animal agriculture and a very deep network of relationships in the feed and pet food industries will be invaluable for IFEEDER.  He will be able to very effectively communicate our mission, including explaining and educating our base on the research we have funded and/or propose funding, fully explaining why and how these projects are core to IFEEDER’s mission and why further donations are necessary to make further projects possible.”

Thomas’ main objective is to unite IFEEDER’s target demographic, members of the American Feed Industry Association and their close affiliates, under IFEEDER’s flag.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is getting the AFIA membership to realize we must attack the issues facing our industry with a united front, and IFEEDER gives us a vehicle to do that,” Crutcher states.  “As individual companies, we do not have enough critical mass to make an impact.  We must work together to pool our resources to make a meaningful impact on the issues our industry faces.”

 Ken Thomas will allow IFEEDER to keep its finger on the pulse of the industry, to make sure it funds the right projects.

 “Ken will be in constant communication with the board of trustees and all of our constituents to continuously ensure we are hitting the mark with the kinds of projects we are funding and justifying the donations we receive,” says Warras.

And keeping the industry interested in the long term may be IFEEDER’s hardest challenge so far.

“Having a more active and engaging dialogue (every day) between industry stakeholders and IFEEDER will constantly keep us on top of what the industry feels it needs to drive its sustainability.  Those projects that resonate the best with the most potential donors are the ones that will get funded.”

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