The New Year brings with it the excitement of a new beginning and optimistic uncertainty. While much is left to the cosmos, there’s always one thing I know for sure: I’ll be in Atlanta for the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE) in late January.

2015 marks my sixth year. My first was back in the ol’ IFE days. It’s been amazing to watch the show expand and evolve -- highlights include a noticeable shift in the attendee demographics with many more international visitors to the consolidation with the American Meat Institute event. Witnessing this evolution makes me feel like I entered the industry at the right time -- during a time of growth and prosperity for animal agriculture. (Let’s just forget about the drought of 2012, shall we?)

It’s with this positive sentiment that I look at the year ahead -- it’s likely going to be a good year for the feed and animal agriculture industries. There are few things in the hopper that will make 2015 an interesting year to observe.

Grain:  With a bumper 2014 harvest behind us, there’s plenty of grain to go around. Feed costs have dropped, which will likely stimulate animal protein production. As usual, preserving grain quality and ensuring feed safety remains a top priority for maintaining animal health and profitability.

Trade:  The resolution of two pending international trade policies may deliver an added boost to U.S. agriculture. The Transpacific Trade Partnership (TTP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations may find resolution in 2015. To date, there remain areas of disagreement; however, both trade agreements could provide substantial opportunities for U.S. agriculture.

Regulations:  This summer, the first of Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA) rules will be finalized. Up and down the supply chain the focus will be on implementation and compliance.

And the list goes on. Too bad I’m limited on space here, but expect to see coverage of these and other important industry issues in the year ahead.