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Getting back to basics with AFIA

Trade association AFIA’s 2016 Feed Industry Institute offers technical refresher for feed industry professionals.

Photo by Andrea Gantz

Since I began covering the feed industry in 2010, I have wanted to attend the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) biennial Feed Industry Institute (FII), but I’ve always run into a scheduling conflict. The four-day educational event is essentially a crash course on the fundamentals of animal nutrition and related feed topics.

After six years, I finally made it.

Full disclosure, while I may hold two bachelor’s degrees, neither hail from my alma mater’s college of science. Luckily, I have always worked for business-to-business publishing companies who have believed that trade journalists are capable of learning the ins and outs of their respective industries on the job.

I think I’ve done alright, but I’m always hungry for basic information to assist in putting larger concepts and issues into perspective — and I know I’m not the only one. I make this statement with confidence because all of WATT’s “evergreen” nutrition content performs very well online and in our digital editions.

This leads me to believe that everyone needs a little refresher from time to time – a theory reinforced by the success of FII.

The sold-out event, held June 13-16 in Minneapolis, hosts 150 feed industry professionals from all walks of the animal feed and allied industries, including nutritionists, grain merchandisers, ingredient purchasers, etc,. After a show of hands, maybe on-third of the room has been in the industry for less than three years; two dozen or so have been for less than a year.

Topics ranged from the nuts and bolts of grain origination to an in-depth look at the role of vitamins. Many of the “courses” dug into the importance of micro ingredients, while others explored the physiology and characteristics of monogastric animals vs. ruminants. To sum it up, the event planners truly presented a well-rounded lineup of topics

At FII, the sessions, while technical, offer a high-level overview – some including vocabulary – and take on a classroom vibe.

In addition, AFIA did a great job vetting their speakers. Each speaker has had a laid-back take on the content – interjecting personality along the way – and the vendors among them kept it noncommercial. (If you’d like to read my “fun facts” coverage of FII on Twitter, search the hashtag: #2016FII. And while you're there, feel free to follow me: @jackieroembke.)

Overall, I’m extremely impressed with the event and recommend it to the seasoned and green feed industry professionals among us.

Hey, you don’t know what you don’t know, so opt-ing in on continuing education can only help you grow and better communicate with your colleagues and peers. 

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