The recently conducted American Feed Industry Association sustainability survey indicates enhancing youth programs with an ag-based focus has a strong importance to U.S. feed companies. The annual, informal poll, "Community Involvement and Charitable Giving Survey," also reveals total volunteer hours of those surveyed within the industry and funds donated to charitable organizations.
In 2015, the animal food industry gave back more than $11 million to their communities. Companies also reported logging upward of 18,000 volunteer hours.
"Our members show great pride and dedication to their communities in which they live and work," said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman. "Their desire to give back is inspiring, and a prime example of how corporate America is working toward a sustainable future."
The term "sustainability" is defined by the feed industry as: The ability to provide a continuous, safe and nutritious feed supply for poultry, livestock, fish and pets in a manner that optimizes environmental quality and the use of natural resources, while positively affecting the social and economic well-being of customers, their communities and the industry.
AFIA members identified agricultural-, food-, health-, education- and civil service-oriented charities as key causes to contribute both funds and volunteer time to, with 95 percent of respondents engaging in ways to better education programs, up 26 percent from 2014. FFA and 4-H programs also ranked high with respondents at an 86 percent contribution level, up seven percent from 2014. In total, there were 22 options reported in the community development or charitable giving category.
"In 2014, the national average for giving to education-oriented charities increased 4.9 percent, according to the Giving U.S.A. Institute, and AFIA is pleased the industry contributed to this growth. It is important to reach today's youth, as they will be the ones working in our businesses, making regulatory decisions and growing our food in just a few years," said Newman.
AFIA established a Sustainability Task Force in 2009, which identified four key sustainable focal points, designed for communication and collaboration between organizations, companies and associations. "Support the Community" is one of the four focal points AFIA asks its members to participate in as part of its sustainability initiative. The remaining focal points: to optimize the use of energy and natural resources for feed production; enhance production efficiency and productivity; and promote understanding and appreciation of U.S. food production.
To learn more about sustainability in the feed industry, visit AFIA's website.