Ongoing feed education is key to career success [Video]

NC State Extension’s Marissa Cohen says continuing education builds knowledge and relationships.

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Transcription of Feed & Grain Chat with Marissa Cohen, M.S., area specialized agent for animal food safety, North Carolina State Extension

Elise Schafer, editor, Feed & Grain: Hi everyone, and welcome to Feed & Grain Chat. I'm your host Elise Schafer, editor of Feed & Grain. This edition of Feed & Grain Chat is brought to you by WATT Global Media and is your source for the latest news, product and equipment information for the grain handling and feed manufacturing industries.

Today I'm joined on Zoom by Marissa Cohen, M.S., area specialized agent for animal food safety at North Carolina State Extension. She's returning to Feed & Grain Chat to share how ongoing education and professional development can help boost your career. Hi, Marissa, welcome back!

Marissa Cohen, M.S., area specialized agent for animal food safety at North Carolina State Extension: Hey, thank you for having me.

Schafer: Yes, thanks for coming on again. Now let's get right into it. As feed industry professionals review the conference and education opportunities available in the coming months, why is it important to continue making time for education even as your career progresses?

Cohen Yeah, continuing education can be very valuable for many reasons. Not only are you keeping up with new technologies or advancements in the knowledge within your industry, and it also gives people within the industry the chance to connect with one another and troubleshoot issues as a group. I see this a lot with food safety training, whether it's how to encourage buy in with employees or different ways to organize a food safety plan, being able to bounce ideas off one another can be a very valuable learning experience.

In fact, we're actually partnering with the Carolina Feed Industry Association (CFIA) to host the NC State CFIA Feed Technology Convention and for the first time we're actually expanding the week to include a couple of new programs. So, on Monday and Tuesday, we're going to have a feed manufacturing short course that's focused on introducing new or entry level feed mill employees, as well as allied industry professionals or regulatory personnel to feed manufacturing. The program is going to focus on processes from receiving to load out as well as instruction on the importance of regulatory compliance and good facility management.

Then on Wednesday, we're actually going to be co-hosting with CFIA their first Equipment Maintenance School and that's going to be designed for maintenance personnel. That seminar is going to focus on preventative maintenance topics. And then on Thursday, we'll wrap up the convention with the annual CFIA Feed Production School. Traditionally, the feed production school has been attended by facility managers, supervisors and more experienced allied industry, and it covers more advanced topics based on the current industry issues and feedback from the production personnel.

We have a lot of great speakers lined up and each program is going to include time for the participants to provide feedback and have discussions amongst each other, so that we can build topics for next year. We want our programs to remain relevant to the industry, so it's also crucial for us to learn from these programs to build strong academic and extension programs off of them.

Schafer: Well it sounds like a wonderful program and lineup. Are there any new feed mill biosecurity practices that managers might consider getting trained on or gaining more experience with?

Cohen: So, I don't know about new practices, but I think encouraging realistic practices that can be implemented easily and that employees can stick to is really the key here. Our agriculture industry is incredibly integrated, and all animals have to eat, so it's important that we have good practices throughout the supply chain with HPAI continuing to be an issue this year. With everybody keeping their eye out for African Swine Fever, it's important to have practices in place now and something that can be easily implemented should there be issues in the future.

So, common areas to pay attention to in the feed mill are receiving, loadout and any areas within the facilities where foot traffic interacts with traffic inside the mill. So trucks are usually the biggest topic when it comes to biosecurity at the feed mill. There's a lot of focus on spraying tires, which is great, but foot traffic is really, should be an area of focus. Keep good pest control in place as well. Making areas around the mill undesirable for pests to nest or eliminating easy food sources can go a long way to keep them from spreading disease.

Make sure you check with your local wildlife offices, if you have questions about what can or can't be done about protected species that are also biosecurity concerns. I generally encourage everybody to stay in touch with their local and national agencies that provide information about biosecurity. Trade associations have great recommendations for meeting biosecurity plans and universities are another great option for the latest information on managing disease outbreaks.

Schafer: That's great advice, Marissa. Now, are there any safety or regulatory issues that feed industry professionals should be looking for training and education on?

Cohen: The Food Safety scene is constantly evolving. We're several years into the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, so the comfort level among the industry on developing food safety plans seems to be increasing, which is great. I encourage everybody to keep an eye on regulatory reports and recalls for food or ingredients that are similar to those that they're producing. This will give them an idea of what regulators will expect when they come to do inspections.

Schafer: Now, you recently spoke at the Food Animal Innovation Summit, co-sponsored by CFIA and focusing on sustainable food animal management How can feed production education play a role in the future of sustainable animal management?

Cohen: We all know that feed plays a really important role in the supply chain. We're the ultimate recyclers and I think that is huge when it comes to sustainability. When we spoke at the Food Animal Innovation Summit, we actually shared some of our newest learning technologies with the industry as examples of how we're working to engage the future workforce. In feed manufacturing. Not only do we want to engage students during the learning process, but we also want them to think about how the industry may change in the future. With new ingredients being developed every day and coming into the market, students need to have a good understanding of food safety and regulatory practices, as well as how these new ingredients can be handled, or even priced in to the feed mill in order to continue that cycle of sustainability.

Schafer: Well Marissa, thank you for sharing your knowledge on professional development and your upcoming program.

Cohen: Thank you for having me.

Schafer: Yes, thank you for coming on. Now that's all for today's Feed & Grain Chat. If you'd like to see more videos like this, subscribe to our YouTube channel, sign up for Industry Watch Daily eNewsletter, or you can come directly to to find videos on our website. Thank you again for joining, and we hope to see you next time!

In this Feed & Grain Chat, North Carolina State Extension area specialized agent for animal food safety, Marissa Cohen, M.S., explains why feed industry professionals should never stop participating in industry education and training.