The Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) which represents the agri supply trade throughout the United Kingdom has recently completed a series of seven regional feed meetings. All were held in venues with a connection to the livestock industry and finished at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute at Hillsborough, N Ireland. The format for each meeting consisted of political, technical and legislative briefings from AIC, an update from AIC services on the industry feed assurance schemes and then a presentation from the host at each venue followed by a tour of the facilities.

AIC Director, Declan Billington with James McCulloch, Head of Feed Sector, Roberta Reeve, Technical Manager, AIC Services and David Garrett, President of NIGTA.
AIC Director, Declan Billington with James McCulloch, Head of Feed Sector, Roberta Reeve, Technical Manager, AIC Services and David Garrett, President of NIGTA.

The objective was for AIC to engage with those employed in member businesses and assurance partners who do not have direct or regular contact with AIC through committees or working groups and to convey a better understanding of the work AIC carries out in terms of policy and legislative engagement both in the UK and in Brussels. Members were brought up to date on the gathering pace of the sustainability agenda and how the organisation was working to define a sustainability roadmap to enable the feed industry to deliver on commitments made by Government in terms of net-zero carbon and clean air and water. Key to this is the development of efficient and cost effective diets and promoting the concept of precision nutrition through the network of registered feed advisers (FAR) trained in the management of emissions from livestock farming.

AIC’s development of assurance schemes for the feed sector have raised standards across the industry and are recognised by both regulators and food chain partners. James McCulloch, head of the AIC feed sector reported on upgrades to the schemes, which ensure that they continue to meet the expectations of the food chain. The schemes include the Universal Feed Assurance Scheme (UFAS) for feed production, the Feed materials assurance scheme (FEMAS) and the Trade Assurance Scheme for combinable crops (TASCC). The schemes have been aligned to ensure consistency of standards and strengthened by the introduction of more “short notice” and unannounced audits. The standards have been rewritten – members have been consulted – and auditors are now being trained to the new standards, which will take effect from 1st February 2020. 

James McCulloch (centre), with feed company representatives from across Northern Ireland at the AIC members meeting in Hillsborough.
James McCulloch (centre), with feed company representatives from across Northern Ireland at the AIC members meeting in Hillsborough.

Mr McCulloch reported that the feed sector was engaged in defining positive and sustainable policies for a number of challenges which face the livestock sector, including Anti-Microbial Resistance, responsible sourcing of feed materials and setting goals for economic, social and environmental sustainability.

The event held at AFBI was well attended with representatives from 16 separate feed manufacturing companies. Declan Billington of John Thompson & Sons Ltd delivered the political briefing and Dr Elizabeth Magowan, Director of Sustainable Agri-Food Sciences Division at AFBI presented the work of the Institute and delegates were given an extended tour of the farm and facilities.