Identifying solutions creates a pathway to respond to challenges.
Informing, advancing and implementing solutions is a long-term approach, but one that elicits positive outcomes. In the animal food industry, challenges associated with climate and the environment will dominate the space for the foreseeable future, but others linked to sustainability will arise.
To advance understanding and trust in a sustainable feed and pet food supply chain, IFEEDER’s research outcomes seek to inform and support efforts to advance solutions and industry decision-making. Through our efforts, we create tangible outcomes and cultivate relationships that are valued by feed and pet food industry members and stakeholders. As indicated in our 2021 Strategic Plan, IFEEDER is focused on feed and pet food sustainability through four research-oriented objectives:
- Identify key material issues and develop supporting metrics for industry use,
- Identify industry sustainability resource needs and develop essential support tools,
- Evaluate, validate and advance solutions to address material issues, and
- Collaborate with stakeholders on joint sustainability research efforts.
Through solution-driven engagement, credible science and subject matter expertise, IFEEDER serves as a respected and utilized resource for allied industry organizations and other stakeholders. We seek to advance sustainable solutions, inform consumer choice and earn public trust through transparency and collaboration that engages diverse perspectives.
IFEEDER has a number of important research projects in process including:
- Sustainability Road Map: This project is a pivotal component of IFEEDER’s efforts to lower our industry’s environmental footprint and advance our industry’s solutions to the global climate challenge. It provides an opportunity for the animal food industry and its stakeholders to develop a road map and supporting resources for information exchange, including standardization and methodologies, and provide life cycle data up and down the production chain. Beyond life cycle assessment, the effort will explore the scope of sustainability guidance and resources needed by the animal food industry for its continuous improvement. Through industry and stakeholder assessment, we will evaluate risks and opportunities within each animal food industry segment to prioritize focus and determine specific areas of support. The Sustainability Road Map is the first step in our long-term vision to bring needed sustainability resources and tools to the animal feed and pet food industry.
- Dietary Interventions to Mitigate Enteric Methane Emissions in Dairy Cattle: Innovative feed management strategies, including feed additives and ingredients, have significant potential to reduce enteric methane emissions in U.S. dairy herds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Conservation Practice Standard 592 for Feed Management has received limited use in the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), no enhancement currently exists for its use within the NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), and feed management strategies are not leveraged within carbon markets. This project will evaluate different dairy feed management strategies, including emerging feed additives. We aim to better inform greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation strategies for cattle, NRCS programs and the development of protocols for measuring enteric emissions. This effort is led by The Nature Conservancy in support of U.S. Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative (NZI), partnering with Dairy Management, Inc. and IFEEDER.
- African Swine Fever Feed Mill Decontamination Study: The confirmation of African swine fever in the Dominican Republic has brought this devastating animal disease closer to the United States. Research has shown that that it is extremely important for the US to prevent the entry of the virus into US feed mills because once in a feed mill, it will remain in its environment for an extended period of time. IFEEDER and other industry partners are providing funding to the Swine Health Information Center backed study to evaluate several methods for cleaning and disinfecting feed manufacturing facilities. The project will determine optimal methods for disinfecting feed manufacturing facilities, especially equipment that is not designed to be disinfected. Ideally the research would be conducted using ASF virus, however that is not feasible with the limited available facilities. Previous research has demonstrated to be the most stable virus in feed (Dee et al. 2018). Therefore, disinfection and flushing procedures will be tested using three viruses, Seneca Virus A (SVA), PEDV, and PRRSV, currently present in the US. The project will also determine infectivity of feed and environmental samples after completion of flushing and decontamination procedures. The project started in late 2021 and is expected to be completed within 12 to 18 months.
IFEEDER has completed a number of important research projects including:
- Studying the Impact of GM-Free Livestock and Poultry Feed on U.S. Feed Industry: In recent years, an increasing number of food companies have differentiated their food products in the marketplace by offering foods that are free of GM ingredients. For products produced from livestock and poultry, this means the use of GM-free ingredients extends to the feed the livestock and poultry consume. Given the implications this could have on the animal feed industry, the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER) sought to answer: If non-GM feed production were to increase in the United States, what would the environmental and economic implications be for the animal food industry? Joining together with partners Dairy Management Inc., MFA Incorporated, the National Corn Growers Association, the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association and others, IFEEDER hired Iowa State University and Decision Innovation Solutions to conduct the research. The full report and other resources are available at https://ifeeder.org/research/gmfree-feed-report/
- Animal Feed & Pet Food Consumption and COVID-19 Impact Analysis: In 2021, FEEDER recently worked with Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS) to quantify exactly how much animal food domestic livestock and pets consume throughout the various stages of their lives, adjusting for regional feed differences and life stages. Utilizing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s November 2020 data, DIS also established a baseline of the value and volume of feed for six major categories of livestock and poultry (i.e., broilers, layers, turkeys, hogs, dairy cows and beef cattle) and then provided three, forward-looking economic scenarios for the feed sector beyond the COVID-19 crisis. The full report and other resources are available at https://ifeeder.org/feeddata/
- Pet Food Consumption and Ingredient Analysis: New research finds that the country’s 500+ pet food manufacturers not only provide balanced, safe meals for America’s dogs and cats, but also stimulate the overall agricultural economy through the purchase of ingredients, labor and services from related industries. With over two-thirds of U.S. households owning a pet and over $30 billion in pet food sales, the Institute for Feed Education and Research (IFEEDER), North American Renderers Association (NARA) and Pet Food Institute (PFI) came together to better understand what goes into the production of pet food.The partners commissioned Decision Innovation Solutions (DIS), an economic research and analysis firm, to examine the ingredients used in the production of pet food (i.e., dog and cat food only). DIS crafted a reverse engineering methodology to determine the ingredients used and value of those ingredients in various pet food products, without knowing the recipe. Using data from a representative sample of pet food sales from June 2018 to June 2019, DIS used expert analysis to estimate the economic multiplier effect the pet food industry has on the broader agricultural community.
Overall, the report found that U.S. pet food manufacturers use roughly 8.65 million tons of animal- and plant-based ingredients for dog and cat food to provide the complete nutrition that pets need, at a value of $6.9 billion. More than 500 safe and nutritious ingredients are used, demonstrating the diversity of options available to shoppers at various price points to fit their budgets. Often using leftover ingredients made from the production of human food, such as bakery or brewery items or parts of the animal that humans don’t eat, the report also highlighted the pet food industry’s commitment to reducing agriculture’s environmental impact.
- African Swine Fever: This research project, co-funded with the Swine Health Information Center, will fill in data gaps related to the industry’s response to the recent African Swine Fever outbreaks and aims to identify some potential risk mitigation steps for the feed industry. Additional data on the ability for the virus to survive in transport via inoculated feed ingredients and the effectiveness of holding times in reducing the virus’ risk of transfer to animals will also be looked at. Filling in these data gaps will provide the industry scientific research to support recommendations for addressing this issue.
- Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI): IFEEDER provided a grant to the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) to participate in the North American GFLI project. This initiative is creating regional databases and a modelling tool to benchmark the environmental impact of feeding livestock and poultry production based on the scientifically robust life cycle analysis (LCA) methodology for feed developed under the Livestock Environmental Assessment and Performance (LEAP) partnership. According to the FAO, feed production represents 45 percent of the carbon footprint of livestock products; therefore, it is important for the feed industry to use a harmonized set of standard methods to monitor feed ingredient LCA. Ultimately this will demonstrate the continuous improvement of the feed industry. Along with the North American project, the European Union, China and Brazil, as well as the global aquaculture industry, will be developing their own regional databases. GFLI represents the gold standard for assessing the feed impact of livestock and poultry production, supporting targeted improvements and recognizing the positive contributions of technology and best practices.
- Assess the Potential Impact on Animal Welfare Resulting from No Antibiotics Ever (NAE) Policies: As more and more food manufacturers and retailers are requiring meat, milk and eggs to be sourced from animals that have never received antibiotics, what impact does this have on animals? IFEEDER, along with several other organizations, is funding a research study conducted by the University of Minnesota to look at the tradeoffs and ramifications of NAE policies, in particular on animal welfare. Results of this report will be provided to companies making these types of policy decisions to better understand the true impact of NAE. The full report can be found here.
- Generic Hazard Analysis: Under the Food Safety Modernization Act, all animal food facilities are responsible for creating an animal food safety plan, including a hazard analysis unique to each individual facility. IFEEDER co-funded a research project conducted by the University of Minnesota, to create a one-of-a-kind generic hazard analysis resource for facilities to use as guidance in this process. This tool will help facilities save thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of employee time. It also supports that a majority of feed manufacturing risks (except microbial risks) are mitigated with current good manufacturing practices. This significantly reduces animal food safety plan requirements for member companies.
- Livestock Environmental Assessment & Performance Project (LEAP): After more than three years of hard work between the U.S. and European feed industries, and in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the global gold standard model to accurately measure the impact feed and feed ingredients have on the environment has been released. This tool provides the standard that can be used by all livestock and poultry organizations, universities and other organizations can use the most accurate species-specific life-cycle assessments (LCA). IFEEDER provided $72,400 toward this $1-million-plus project. This methodology has also concluded the U.S. livestock and poultry sectors contribute only four percent of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, information AFIA shared with the White House and U.S. Department of Agriculture resulting in the removal of the recommended environmental criteria from the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
- Ingredient Approvals Economic Impact: In recent years, the FDA process for new ingredient approvals has been stagnant, at best. IFEEDER funded an independent, in-depth survey on the impact this is having on your businesses, showing how the lack of a cohesive, functioning process for the approval of new technologies affects industry. Results showed an average investment of $600,000 goes toward product approval costs per product, and the average industry loss is $1.75 million annually due to the Food and Drug Administration approval process delays. AFIA is using this sound analysis with U.S. government officials to develop a plan to improve the overall process and remove the log-jam of approvals.
- Preparing the Industry for Another PEDV Outbreak: Following the May 2013 outbreak of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) in the United States, IFEEDER partnered with the National Pork Board and other groups to fund research that looks at the virology, pathology and modes of transmission of the virus. Since the virus had never been found in the United States previously, very little was known about it. The pork industry spent more than $3.5 million, of which IFEEDER donated $100,000. Over the past three years, the research project has identified knowledge gaps and opportunities for action so that the industry can be better prepared in the event of another PEDV outbreak.
- Animal Food Consumption Report: In 2017, IFEEDER commissioned Decision Innovation Solutions, an economic and analysis firm, to conduct a study that quantified the total amount of food consumed by the top nine livestock, poultry and aquaculture species throughout the various stages of their lives. Working with roughly 25 industry and university subject matter experts, DIS determined the specific diets fed to animals throughout their lives and adjusted them for regional dietary differences, due to the availability of ingredients and best management practices. All told, DIS found that in 2016, approximately 236.3 million tons of animal food were fed to the nine species in the study; cattle on feed, broilers and hogs consumed the most feed; and corn, soybean meal and dried distiller’s grains with solubles represented more than 75 percent of all feed tonnage. The American Feed Industry Association will use this data in its policymaker and communications outreach throughout 2018.
- Economic Impact Report: In 2017, IFEEDER commissioned Decision Innovation Solutions, an economic and analysis firm, to conduct a first-ever economic analysis of the U.S. animal feed and pet food manufacturing industry. The recently completed study found that in 2016, the U.S. animal food manufacturing industry contributed $297.1 billion in total U.S. sales, including roughly $102 billion in value-added contributions; over $22.5 billion in local, state and national taxes; and over 944,000 jobs. The American Feed Industry Association will use this data to communicate the value of the animal food manufacturing industry to policymakers and regulators throughout 2018.
- Assessing Intestinal Absorption of Amino Acids from Various Feedstuffs: This three-year project at Virginia Tech began in July 2015. The purpose of this work is to determine ruminal nitrogen degradability and intestinal amino acid availability for corn silage, grass hay, alfalfa hay, soyhulls, dried distillers grains, dried brewers grains and corn grain. Existing methods of assessing intestinal amino acid availability in cattle can be expensive, time intensive and inaccurate. This experiment uses a novel method of evaluating ruminal nitrogen degradability and intestinal amino acid availability based on stable isotope dilution. Such knowledge will lead to more precision, which will allow reproducible supplementation, reduced dietary nitrogen and reduced environmental loading. This research fulfills a critical research gap which will allow the industry to further expand.
- African Swine Fever: Assessing distribution and mitigation of Senecavirus A, a foot and mouth disease surrogate, in a swine feed mill: This research will help us better prepare the industry should an outbreak of African Swine Fever occur in North America. This research will help the industry better understand how a virus can impact a feed manufacturing facility and most importantly, what steps need to be taken to get a contaminated facility back online while maintaining customers’ trust in the products. In partnership with the Swine Health Information Center and the Animal Nutrition Association of Canada the research will be utilized in enhancing existing risk management plans, integrated in response plans and in continuing education for industry partners.
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SUBMIT PROJECT IDEA
The IFEEDER Research Committee sends out requests for proposals once a research topic has been identified. Research topics are identified from the Advisory Council or via a need recognized by an American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) committee. It is important that the areas of research align with the three focus areas of:
- Legislative and regulatory policy support;
- Feed and food safety; and
For more information, contact IFEEDER at email@example.com.
KENNY BERG RESEARCH AND EDUCATION FUND
IFEEDER and the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) Liquid Feed Committee work together to foster the positive image of liquid feed as a vehicle for nutrient supplementation via the Kenny Berg Research and Education Fund. At the annual Liquid Feed Symposium, attendees raise funds for the Kenny Berg Research and Education Fund, which is a designated fund maintained within the foundation.
The Kenny Berg Research and Education Fund has provided more than 15 grants to universities to support research that will benefit the liquid feed industry. The focus of the research is to expand on and improve use of liquid feed supplements to the beef and dairy industries as well as to non-ruminants.
Completed research projects:
- A research project was conducted at West Texas A&M University with a focus on the effects of adding liquid lactose or molasses to pelleted swine diets on pellet quality and pig performance.
- Evaluation of feeding glycerol/molasses mixture as an energy supplement to cattle consuming Bermuda grass hay, University of Florida
- Meta-analysis of the effects of dietary sugar on intake and productivity of dairy cattle, Kansas State University.