January 16, 2016

Interview: Gary Huddleston - The American Feed Industry Association

Gary Huddleston is the American Feed Industry Association’s manager of feed safety and environmental affairs.
Huddleston currently manages AFIA’s efforts surrounding regulatory issues involving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation.
He also works in collaboration with Dr. Henry Turlington, AFIA director of quality and manufacturing regulatory affairs, to develop and coordinate AFIA’s education and training programs.
As the world’s largest organisation devoted exclusively to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the animal feed industry and its suppliers, AFIA will be hosting a free Feed Production Education Program on Thursday 28 January 2016, as part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, USA.

Since your appointment as Feed Manufacturing Safety and Environmental Affairs manager for AFIA, which issues have you been most frequently engaged with?
Since my appointment I have dedicated many hours to the Hazard Communication Standard Issue, helping our members develop Safety Data Sheets for their feed products. Earlier this year, AFIA and NGFA released guidance on how to create a hazard communication program specific to a facility, operations, personnel and other conditions.  I’ve also been very involved with our legislative and regulatory team efforts to help members prepare for compliance with the Food Safety Modernisation Act.
Another significant issue is the work with the US Technical Advisory Group for ISO Technical Committee 293, which is working on ISO standards for stationary feed manufacturing equipment. I was recently elected as Chairman of the U.S. TAG. This is a very important issue for U.S. feed equipment manufacturers. I currently serve as the staff liaison of AFIA’s Equipment Manufacturing Committee.
There will be a wide variety of training and workshops available at IPPE, can you share with us any these?
I’m responsible for the Feed Production Program at the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga. The program is a half-day Thursday, Jan. 28, and is tailored for those involved in feed manufacturing. Speakers will cover various relevant and current topics of interest to feed manufacturing professionals including OSHA and EPA updates, biosecurity in feed manufacturing, FSMA and VFD updates, and energy management in a feed mill. AFIA will also present the award for Feed Mill of the Year.
What are your feelings about the proposed changes to US fair labour standards?
The DOL rule, if implemented as-is, would increase the overtime threshold from $23,660 to $50,400, which would result in fewer entry-level hires in the animal food industry, reclassification of certain executive, administrative and professional positions, and additional recordkeeping woes.
This rule is a one-size-fits-all approach and the animal food industry is not that type of industry. AFIA conducted an unofficial survey where one-third of our member firms indicated the proposed rule would deter companies from hiring trainee/entry-level employees; more than half of the respondents said the Fair Labor Standards Act would result in an additional $200 or more per week on management expenses associated with monitoring employee overtime. Survey respondents did agree--by three-fourths--the overtime threshold should vary, ranging from $29,000-$40,000 per year.
In your opinion, what have been the greatest changes in the US feed industry in recent years?
The biggest change in the US feed industry will be the effects of the Food Modernisation Act. This is the biggest change in regulations for our industry in more than 70 years. We’re seeing the bar raised in our industry as companies respond to increasing food safety requirements. We will continue to work with FDA, our members and the industry at large to help facilities begin to come into full compliance with the new rules over the next 3 years.
You are also chairman of the US Technical Advisory Group (US TAG). Do you feel ISO standards are currently as they should be?
Currently, there are no specific international standards related to stationary feed manufacturing equipment. Most US equipment manufacturers have the opinion that additional specific standards are not needed since they use lots of other national and international standards when designing and manufacturing their equipment. This standards process was initiated by China.
The problem for US manufacturers is the process has started and is quickly moving downhill. We now need experts from the US feed equipment industry to get more involved on the US TAG so we can affect the outcome as this process continues to move toward increased standards for the industry.
Which measures are AFIA implementing to encourage ‘new blood’ to join the industry food manufacturing industry?
AFIA’s Equipment Manufacturers Committee funds a scholarship fund from the proceeds of the annual Equipment Manufacturers Conference. From this fund, we award annual scholarships at three different universities to students pursuing a career in the feed industry. Additionally, AFIA hires a summer intern each year to come to D.C. and work and learn in our office.
What is the greatest challenge currently facing the US feed industry, and do you see the nature of these changing in the future?
The greatest challenge currently facing the US feed industry is obviously the ever-increasing regulations. Two big regulations on the horizon are the Food Safety Modernisation Act and the Veterinary Feed Directive. There will be much to do to help our industry in compliance with these two major regulations.
The greatest challenge for feed equipment manufacturers in the near future is the possibility of new ISO standards for their equipment coming from the work of the ISO/TC 293.
As the world’s largest organisation exclusively devoted to representing the business, legislative and regulatory interests of the animal feed industry and its suppliers. Membership includes 575 domestic and international companies; state, national and regional associations. Firms are feed and pet food manufacturers, integrators, pharmaceutical companies, ingredient suppliers, equipment manufacturers and companies that supply other products, services and supplies to feed manufacturers.
The American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) will host its free Feed Production Education Program on Thursday 28 January 2016, as part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta, USA.

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