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Richard Sellers receives AFIA’s Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award is AFIA’s highest honor, given to members of the US animal feed industry.

The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) honored Richard Sellers, formerly of the AFIA, with its 2023 Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the feed industry. Leah Wilkinson, AFIA’s vice president of public policy and education, presented the award to Sellers at the AFIA’s May Board of Directors meeting on May 17.

The Distinguished Service Award is AFIA’s highest honor and is typically given to the elite members of the U.S. animal feed industry who have provided outstanding support to the AFIA and the entire animal feed industry throughout their careers.

“Richard played a major role in shaping the AFIA into the successful organization that it is today,” said Wilkinson. “Richard prided himself on ensuring that our industry’s voice was heard and considered during several shifts in regulatory programs. No one has provided as much expert advice to the animal food industry over their career as Richard Sellers.”

Prior to retiring in 2018, Sellers joined the AFIA in 1991 and, throughout his tenure at the association, he oversaw the AFIA’s legislative and regulatory efforts, growing the team from two to the seven individuals it is today. He was the industry’s advocate before the Food and Drug Administration, state feed control agencies, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) and Congress, and relayed information to AFIA’s membership to help them comply with all state and federal feed laws and regulations. Sellers served as the staff contact for the AFIA Aquaculture, Nutrition and Feed Regulatory Committees during his tenure, impacting many individuals through those roughly 160 committee meetings he staffed over the years. 

During his career, he was a part of or advocated for industry during several monumental changes and shifts in authorities and regulation of the industry, including the Animal Drug Availability Act, which overhauled animal drug approvals; medicated feed mill licensing; Veterinary Feed Directive; and the Food Safety Modernization Act and its regulations. He guided the industry through the finding of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in Europe, the resulting feed ban regulations and inspections and then the finding of BSE in the United States in 2003. He helped develop the model pet food regulations by AAFCO and oversaw the updates of numerous state commercial feed laws.

He maintains the status of a registered professional animal scientist, where he still serves in a leadership capacity in the local Washington, D.C., chapter. Sellers holds a master’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Arkansas and a bachelor’s degree in animal sciences from the University of Memphis. After college, he joined the Peace Corps and helped villagers in Nepal learn about poultry management, health and nutrition.

Sellers is active in his church, where he serves in many volunteer and leadership positions and has taught Sunday school for many years. Sellers and his wife, Marifran, are the proud parents of Edie and John and are loving grandparents.

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