AFIA installs new board leadership

Board of directors also advocated for animal food industry policy issues during annual spring meeting in Arlington, Virginia.

Mike Gauss hands over the reins to Carlos Gonzalez during AFIA's annual board of directors meeting.
Mike Gauss hands over the reins to Carlos Gonzalez during AFIA's annual board of directors meeting.
Courtesy of AFIA.

The American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) board of directors wrapped up its annual spring meeting in Arlington, Virginia, by advocating key policy priorities impacting the animal food industry on Capitol Hill and installing new board leadership.

During the meeting, directors heard from Tracey Forfa, J.D., director for the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine, and Tim Schell, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance, on the regulatory process for approving new animal food ingredients, especially those with non-nutritive benefits (e.g., reduced food safety pathogens or emissions), agency resources and more.

"We have pushed very hard to recognize that there are a lot of novel feed ingredients coming down – that is the future,” said Forfa. “We recognize that, and so we have been really working very hard to figure out how to make the process for reviewing those keep up with the times."

Forfa said regulating products in 2023 with authorities based in the 1930s is a challenge that CVM’s lawyers have been working to figure out. In addition, CVM has been working to bring technical experts on board to help the agency keep pace or stay slightly ahead of innovations in the regulated industries.

Public-private partnerships promote agricultural products globally

The board also heard from Daniel Whitley, administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service, on two public-private partnership programs that promote agricultural products abroad – the Market Access Program (MAP) and Foreign Market Development (FMD) program.

"The programs have not had an infusion of increased funding – ever,” Whitley said. “They are still at the same [levels] they were at decades ago. The problem is our competitors see how well we’re doing with promoting our products, so now they are starting to do it. But they are starting to invest and spend more money than what we have."

Animal feed industry lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill

The board directors also met with U.S. Senate and House offices, where they lobbied for a legislative amendment to regulating novel animal food additives at the FDA as feed ingredients, instead of drugs; $5 million in increased funding for the CVM; and key Farm Bill trade and conservation programs that can help the industry remain globally competitive and sustainable in the future.

Carlos Gonzalez is named new board chair

During the official business meeting, the AFIA board of directors recognized outgoing board chair Mike Gauss, president of Kent Nutrition Group, Inc., for his leadership over the past year and installed Carlos Gonzalez, Ph.D., worldwide director of regulatory affairs for Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc., as its new chair, effective through April 30, 2024.

Gauss now transitions into one year of service as chair of the Institute for Feed Education and Research’s (IFEEDER) board of trustees.

"I have worked with staff and members of this organization since the early 2000s when I began my regulatory career and am blown away by the work that you do," Gonzalez said. “I am humbled that you have put your trust in me as board chair over the next year.”

The AFIA board also voted to accept the nomination of Leigh Ann Sayen, CEO of The Petersen Company, to become chair-elect of the organization for the 2024-25 AFIA fiscal year.  

"The future for AFIA is very bright with the phenomenal staff and incoming leadership of Carlos and Leigh Ann,” said Gauss. “They both have diverse backgrounds and amazing skills that will benefit the association, industry and our members greatly.”

The complete 48-member list of directors can be found on AFIA’s website.

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