Feed & Grain sat down with Constance Cullman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association, to check-in before the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) begins in Atlanta.
COVID, sustainability, genetically-modified feed, trade issues and regulation top Cullman's list as the feed manufacturing industry gets ready for its largest U.S. tradeshow. She spoke on the importance of the feed industry to meet in person and encouraged members of the industry to get involved with issues that will determine its future.
Stay up to date with Feed & Grain's daily coverage of IPPE 2022, including more videos with AFIA staff.
Hello, I'm Constance Cullman. I'm president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association.
Feed & Grain
What topics are you speaking on at IPPE this year? Can you tell us about them?
Well, (I'm) very excited at IPPE to be participating on the Animal Ag Sustainability Summit panel, discussing what we are doing in the area of sustainability for animal agriculture. On Tuesday, January 25, from nine to 12. In the room C202 to C203. We'll be visiting with other sectors of the animal supply chain. And we most notably, we'll be talking about what we are doing at AFIA and at our public charity IFEEDER, to advance the vision and a roadmap for looking at sustainable animal production, particularly from a feed perspective. And then we'll also be launching and introducing more information on the GFSI database that allows us to establish national as well as global metrics for advancing sustainable production
What were some highlights for AFIA and the feed industry in 2021?
2021 was a tough year for us as well as for everyone else. And certainly, COVID topped the list right along with working with our members to not only meet their immediate challenges, but also looking at how do we sustain their long-term growth. One of the other big highlights for us was really digging into the labor and workforce issues, where we're seeing shortages and challenges everything for people in the lab to truck drivers when it comes to Labor and Workforce. Of course, there is a slight easing of supply chain issues that are that's finally occurring. But that has certainly been a big topic. But then we have a strong engagement in the UN Food System Summit. And we really worked hard to protect the ability to bring new innovations to the marketplace, and continue to be solution providers some of our, you know, biggest environmental challenges, while maintaining some of the diverse diets and production systems that were a bit at risk, when we started talking about restricting access, when it came to making the food system sustainable. So our engagement in that really created an opportunity to work with other members of the supply chains, that was a fun thing for us to be able to do in 2021.
What does AFIA have planned for 2022?
2022, will see a continuation of our focus on addressing some of the supply chain issues, they're certainly not resolved. So we have a lot of work to do there. And we're working with both the US government as well as the private sector to try to resolve some of those. We're also very focused on expanding our international markets. You know, along with kind of keeping China's feet to the fire, we're looking at the Vietnam market for feed products, and really looking to see where some new opportunities for US exports in the feed space. We'll be exploiting labor constraints that our industry is facing, and ways that we may be able to help our members identify and resolve some of their labor issues and challenges. And then we'll also be working with the US government to find better ways to bring solutions to the market, and sustainably support productivity growth. And that's gonna be a big opportunity coming out of the UN Food System Summit.
What are you most excited about at IPPE this year?
I'm most excited about IPPE because we're getting back to safely connecting with industry. We've missed that face-to-face interaction and seeing colleagues, which is your that got face to face. and that personal connection is so important to growing business, learning from one another finding ways to continue our advancements and safety and innovative solutions. And it's just a relief to be able to get back together again in a safe environment.
How can people get more involved with the AFIA and its mission?
Well, I would definitely invite our current members to engage more, we have many ways they can be actively involved, including serving on our committees, our member interest groups, our board, and certainly attending our many events throughout the year. If you aren't a member, but part of the feed supply chain, we'd love to have you consider joining us. You can find out more information on that at www.afia.org/join. And if you're one of our industry colleagues that doesn't necessarily fit as a member. But we really do want to emphasize that we are all about collaborating and partnering with related organizations to continue to advance our US food system. So we would love to hear from you and look at ways that we can leverage each other's resources and expertise.