The animal feed industry plays an important role in the global supply of food, enabling the production of animal protein throughout the world. Feed is the largest and most important component to ensuring a safe, abundant and affordable supply of animal protein.
LEAP met Alexandra de Athayde, Executive Director of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF), to talk about how the feed industry is working to improve and make livestock production more efficient and sustainable, and how the LEAP guidelines can help to this achievement.
How important is the continuous improvement in the livestock sector?
One of the key parts of IFIF’s mission is to continue to support and encourage the sustainable development of animal production. IFIF works with its members to meet the sustainability challenge – produce more, using less, at an affordable cost.
IFIF’s main contributions in this critical area focus on promoting global standards to assess the livestock production impact on the environment, leveraging and supporting relevant multi-stakeholder environmental sustainability initiatives with the IFIF brand, and communicating the positive contributions from the feed sector on the environmental sustainability of livestock production to the relevant public and private stakeholders.
Over the last decades through innovation and efficiency, animal feed has proven to be an essential part of the solution to make the livestock production chain more sustainable.
These efforts have continued strongly and IFIF participates and provides expert input to FAO-led sustainability initiatives, including the LEAP Partnership and the Global Agenda for Sustainable Livestock (GASL).
Furthermore, IFIF has developed several strategic initiatives to measure and benchmark the environmental performance of the livestock production chain. IFIF is founding member of the Global Feed LCA Institute (GFLI), which used the LEAP methodology to develop a global standard for assessing and benchmarking feed industry impact and improvement in LCA calculation, in order to support the reduction of the environmental footprint of livestock products.
IFIF has also together with the EU Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA) and a consortium of international companies and associations, launched the Specialty Feed Ingredients Sustainability Project (SFIS), which measured and established the role of specialty feed ingredients (SFIs) on the environmental impact of livestock production and was used as scientific input for the work of the LEAP Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on feed additives.
As LEAP partner representing the feed industry, what’s your deepest goal?
IFIF believes that, in the future, meeting the demands of 60 percent more food, including animal proteins, in a safe and sustainable manner can only be achieved by working together with all stakeholders (e.g. governments, non-governmental groups, and the private sector) in the feed and food chain. The LEAP Partnership involves stakeholders across the livestock sectors, all who share an interest in improving the environmental performance of livestock supply chains. The objective is to develop comprehensive guidance and methodology for understanding the environmental performance of livestock supply chains.
As a member of LEAP working together to promote science-based approaches for the evaluation of the environmental impact of agricultural production and livestock production, this is a key goal of IFIF, which will allow our industry to benchmark and develop promoting adequate innovative solutions.
What actions have you put in place to implement LEAP guidelines?
As mentioned before, IFIF is a founding member of GFLI, a feed industry initiative to develop a free and publicly available feed LCA database and tool. Based on the internationally recognized feed LCA methodology developed by LEAP, the GFLI database and LCA tool will support meaningful LCAs of livestock products using region-specific data and enable our sector to benchmark feed industry environmental impacts on a level playing field.
IFIF has also proactively worked on methodology for the environmental footprint assessment of feed and feed additive. Besides, it has promoted the results of the LEAP guidelines through contribution to their development and internal communication.
What can the private sector do to ensure the effective implementation of LEAP guidelines?
IFIF will work with its members and other LEAP stakeholders to further road test the LEAP guidelines documents. For example, the GFLI database and LCA tool will support meaningful LCAs of livestock products using region-specific data and enable our sector to benchmark feed industry environmental impacts on a level playing field.
What is the value of this implementation?
Feed is an important part of the agri-food chain and feed operators must be able to understand their impact, not only from a business efficiency perspective but also to meet the expectations of our customers and public bodies, at both at the national and international level.
Environmental footprinting of livestock products is a challenging but essential task to improve the accuracy of reporting on the real impacts of livestock products. This includes both understanding where the livestock chain stands in terms of impact and encouraging the benchmarking and measurement of both individual and collective reduction efforts.
Finally, what is the necessary strategy required for producers to get this value?
There are many different potential approaches to use the environmental footprint evaluation and as IFIF we do not make this strategy for feed operators and other stakeholders in the chain, while at the same time we support the guidance and tools to ensure a level playing field and science-based approaches.
About Alexandra de Athayde
Alexandra de Athayde, Executive Director of the International Feed Industry Federation (IFIF) since 2011, has extensive agriculture and international experience representing the industry with governments and businesses.
She previously held positions within the Monsanto Company Corporate Affairs Department in Brazil, the United States of America and Europe. She has also worked for the Brazilian Government as Adviser to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and as Adviser to the Foreign Trade Secretary.
Alexandra holds an International Executive M.B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh and a B.A. degree in International Relations from York University in Canada. She is based in Wiehl, Germany.