Sustainable practices are not only beneficial to the environment in the long term, but also to the participating companies’ bottom line in the short term. This combined benefit is why the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) believes sustainability is important for animal feed manufacturers.

“Sustainability is a very broad term with a lot of different interpretations, and is very much overused,” said Joel Newman, AFIA president and CEO. “The best way to get people engaged in sustainability is to show them how it’s going to achieve what we need to do long term for society by also bringing benefits back to the business entity.”

AFIA’s sustainability initiative is comprised of four focal points developed by its Sustainability Oversight Committee:

  1. The optimization of energy and our natural resources
  2. The enhancement of precision to our animal nutrition programs through new, efficient and productive technologies
  3. To provide consumers with a better understanding and appreciation of today’s food production system
  4. To give support to our local communities

AFIA’s definition of sustainability: Provides a continuous, safe and nutritious feed supply for poultry, livestock, fish and pets in a manner that optimizes environmental equality and the use of natural resources, while positively affecting the social and economic well-being of customers, their communities and their industry.

“Continuous improvement brings value back to the companies,” Newman said. Sustainable practices provide safe, quality nutritious products; lower production costs; minimize output that affects the environment; and promote judicious use of natural resources, he said.

“Sustainability is not just about the immediate bottom line,” Newman said, but also is important for the “future of the industry to grow and adapt.”

Better energy management can lower operating costs

AFIA has produced an energy management guide and energy audit for the industry to help animal feed manufacturers identify areas where they can increase their energy efficiency, thereby increasing savings and decreasing energy use. It hopes to produce a similar guide for overall best management practices.

“Making sure that we’re making good judicious use of natural resources and environmental quality positively affects society and consumers, but it also needs to benefit the industry. All three benefits must be achieved to have truly succeeded,” Newman said.

Sustainable animal feed companies

Newman said many of AFIA’s member companies have their own sustainability plans.

“Smaller companies really benefit from having resources such as this,” Newman said.

Aidan Connolly, chief innovation officer and vice president, corporate accounts at Alltech, said his company increases sustainability in its day-to-day operations in several ways. Its products are designed to increase feed efficiency and productivity in livestock, and the company supports local communities and educates consumers about where their food comes from.

“It is a primary focus of Alltech to promote appreciation of food production at all stages of the process. It is critical that consumers understand where their food is coming from and how it is produced,” Connolly told WATTAgNet. “Further, it is to the consumer’s benefit to understand why natural products, such as Alltech’s, are more beneficial to the animal and thus to the consumer. This is particularly critical in the areas of antibiotic-free and sustainable production, particularly when considering that approximately 80 percent of the emissions associated with producing a liter of milk come from the farm.”

Mike Wright, director of marketing and research at Diamond V, says science and technology help lead his company to more sustainable practices.

“Protein production is a sustainable, high-tech industry today thanks to advancing animal and veterinary science, digital technology and professional management,” he said. “This progress is critical to the current and future success of livestock and poultry producers worldwide. Ongoing Diamond V research and development promotes producer success and sustainability ... that support a new level of natural, nutritional health, efficiency and productivity.”

Mike Manning, president of The F.L. Emmert Company, agrees with Newman that sustainability is good for business.

“As a fifth generation family owned and operated business, The F.L. Emmert Company has practiced sustainability for 135 years. ... Our product recycling business began in 1881 by picking up spent brewer's grains from local breweries and delivering them to local farmers for use in animal feed. Today, we operate in a similar way. By creating nutritious feed ingredients that improve animal performance and efficiency, we help agriculture meet the vital need for more food while also lessening industry's overall impact on the environment," Manning said. "Sustainable practices are good not only for our business, our employees and their families, but also for our community, our industry and the world.”

What is your company doing to improve its sustainability? Let us know in the comments section below.