The National Institute for Animal Agriculture’s annual conference in Columbus is designed to help attendees understand the challenges of the globalization of food production. This year's theme, "U.S. animal agriculture’s future role in world food production: obstacles and opportunities," goes beyond the implications of import and export, trade negotiations, and political concerns, to include how animals are treated and how resources are used worldwide.
“2016 has been an interesting year in many respects,” says John Saunders, CEO and chairman of Where Food Comes From Inc., as well as chairman of the 2017 NIAA planning committee. “Trade, finances, feed, pathogens like avian flu and PEDV … all are issues which not only impact a species, but have regional and global implications.”
The April 3-6 conference will feature presentations on disease traceability, feed issues, hormone and antibiotic use, GMOs, animal welfare, sustainability, and value-added programs.
“All of it intertwines in the globalization of food production,” says Saunders. “There are great food producers around the world, and consumers in the U.S. have food from everywhere coming into their homes.”
U.S. producers deliver protein products to consumers in multiple international destinations.
Where once there was an interest and motivation for regulated standardization of animal health and feed, today’s more consumer-driven marketplace brings value-added programs and verifiable standards for which the end user will pay an increased price, says Saunders. Worldwide regulation may be a less robust concept than market-driven standards, where producers comply with programs that enhance marketing and trade, he says.
Following the general conference, an April 6 workshop, “Animal care standards: How laws, company commitments and public perception have changed the landscape,” will concentrate on animal welfare and well-being, with presentations and panel discussions on standards, legislation and the future.
The conference will be at the Renaissance Columbus Hotel Downtown. A tour of area industries will be available on April 3. NIAA Species Committees, Issues Councils and Leadership Committee will also meet. For registration, agenda information and speakers, go to the NIAA website.