Executive Summary

Animal industries in the United States generate $90 billion of farm income annually, which represents 44 percent of total agricultural income (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1994). The value of these industries to the U.S. economy is based on an efficient system of animal production. An important aspect of such a system is managing dietary nutrients for efficient animal production to meet increasing and changing consumer demands. More than 31 billion kilograms (68 billion pounds) of red meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, and mutton) and poultry were produced in the United States in 1993 to meet consumption demands of 30.5 billion kilograms (67 billion pounds) yearly, up from 30 billion kilograms (66 billion pounds) consumed in 1992. Consumption of red meat and poultry is forecast to be 32.7 billion kilograms (72 billion pounds) in 1995 (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1994a). Products from livestock and poultry such as milk and eggs also make up a notable portion of the U.S. consumer 's diet: total U.S. milk production in 1993 was 70 billion kilograms (154 billion pounds), and 6 billion dozen eggs were produced in 1993. The use of information on the nutrient composition of feeds is instrumental to improve animal productivity and increase production of these commodities.

Nutrients are the foundation of the biological processes of life. Plants and animals require nutrients to sustain life, grow, and reproduce. Response to stress and disease depends on the nutritional status of the organism. An animal's ability to carry out physiological functions can be altered by modifying its supply of nutrients. In the agricultural sector, nutrient management is therefore critical for improving animal health and enhancing animal productivity. In addition, the efficiency of nutrient utilization by animals can be improved through skillful



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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM Executive Summary Animal industries in the United States generate $90 billion of farm income annually, which represents 44 percent of total agricultural income (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1994). The value of these industries to the U.S. economy is based on an efficient system of animal production. An important aspect of such a system is managing dietary nutrients for efficient animal production to meet increasing and changing consumer demands. More than 31 billion kilograms (68 billion pounds) of red meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb, and mutton) and poultry were produced in the United States in 1993 to meet consumption demands of 30.5 billion kilograms (67 billion pounds) yearly, up from 30 billion kilograms (66 billion pounds) consumed in 1992. Consumption of red meat and poultry is forecast to be 32.7 billion kilograms (72 billion pounds) in 1995 (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1994a). Products from livestock and poultry such as milk and eggs also make up a notable portion of the U.S. consumer 's diet: total U.S. milk production in 1993 was 70 billion kilograms (154 billion pounds), and 6 billion dozen eggs were produced in 1993. The use of information on the nutrient composition of feeds is instrumental to improve animal productivity and increase production of these commodities. Nutrients are the foundation of the biological processes of life. Plants and animals require nutrients to sustain life, grow, and reproduce. Response to stress and disease depends on the nutritional status of the organism. An animal's ability to carry out physiological functions can be altered by modifying its supply of nutrients. In the agricultural sector, nutrient management is therefore critical for improving animal health and enhancing animal productivity. In addition, the efficiency of nutrient utilization by animals can be improved through skillful

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM nutrient management. Skillful nutrient management also plays an important role in cultivating sustainable agriculture practices and in reducing environmental pollution caused by agriculture. Agricultural products constitute $43 billion of the total $469 billion in U.S. exports, contributing significantly to the U.S. economy (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1994). The availability of current, reliable information concerning the nutrient content of feed grain commodities is necessary for the United States to maintain an aggressive position in a competitive world market. Similarly, producers must rely on available data on the nutrient composition of feedstuffs to make informed decisions about the purchase and sale of commodities, maximize revenues, and determine the best use of the available resources. These actual data are already available to a limited extent, but the gap between current data on the nutrient composition of feedstuffs and feedstuff availability is widening. Implementing new sustainable agriculture practices in addition to addressing animal and environmental health concerns requires that agriculturalists be able to obtain and use current data on the nutritive properties of feeds in their daily operations. Economic returns will be reflected in the more efficient production of higher-quality products that have a positive influence on prices in the quality-sensitive sector of the agricultural trade market both domestically and internationally. BENEFITS AND USES OF FEED COMPOSITION DATA More than 600 million tons (544 million metric tons) of grain is fed to animals throughout the world annually. With the ratio of the output of animal products usable by humans to input of parts of grains usable by humans estimated to be as high as 6:1, the nutrient composition of grain can be an important factor in improving that ratio (McDowell, 1992). The social and economic returns associated with improving the product-to-feed ratio is the driving force behind nutrient management in animal production systems. Although it is clear that private industry collects, produces, and uses a large portion of the available feed nutrient information, the feed industry has insufficient incentive to soley support a public feed information system. The rationale for public support of the system is that it is an economically sound investment because the information can be shared to produce benefits that are of direct and indirect value to the public. From a societal perspective, a feed information system would provide a tool for improving nutrition research, a mechanism for more efficient animal production, an avenue for reducing environmental pollution, and a means of facilitating sustainable agriculture practices. These public goods are reviewed briefly in the following sections and are discussed in detail in subsequent chapters of the report.

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM Enhancing Productivity Animal productivity can be enhanced through the intelligent application of nutritional science, which includes refined balancing and proportioning of the nutrients in feedstuffs. Efficient livestock production is important for meeting current consumer demands, which are increasing and changing. In addition, efficient livestock production has an impact on meeting the world population's demand for food. Production of poultry meat alone has experienced a ninefold increase in the past 50 years (U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1993). Not only has there been an increase in the amount of red meat and poultry produced and consumed, but demands for higher-quality animal products have also risen. Increases in efficiency to meet increasing demands suggest that profitable animal management should maximize the use of dietary nutrients and minimize nutrient waste. Additionally, satisfying the requirements for high-quality products can be accomplished by careful manipulation of dietary nutrients. Altering the metabolizable energy levels of the diet at a specific growth phase in turkeys, for instance, produces leaner, higher-quality meat (Sell, 1993). Changing the nutrient composition of a dairy cow ration can increase milk yields, resulting in increased yields of milk components from individual cows, which translates into increased profits. Moreover, as nutrients are used more efficiently, the direct input costs of production are decreased. Improving Animal Health and Welfare In addition to productivity, a major concern of both animal producers and consumers is the health and welfare of animals. The health of the animal is a direct function of the nutritional status of the animal. Diet has the most significant effect on important intrinsic growth factors and is also a modulator of immune function (Elsasser, 1993). Defense mechanisms against disease can also be attributed to the nutritional components of an animal's diet. Vitamin E and selenium are crucial to an animal's response to stress and disease. The incidence of mastitis, a disease that costs the dairy industry approximately $2 billion each year, can be reduced by as much as 70 percent in some cases with appropriate vitamin E supplementation (Smith et al., 1987). The economic impact of reducing mastitis in the dairy industry through nutrient management could result in annual production cost reductions of as much as $1.4 billion, and the benefits would be reflected in lower prices for consumers. Nutritional deficiencies, nutrient interactions, malnutrition and undernutrition, feed contaminants, and suitability of feeds for individual species are important considerations in the formulation of diets for optimal health and productivity. The cost of attaining data on some feed nutrients, specifically vitamins and minerals, is often prohibitive to producers, making a data base containing that type of information essential for improving animal health through dietary management.

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM Reducing Environmental Pollution Air and water pollution, the so-called greenhouse effect, and impairment of the Earth's ozone layer are matters of global concern. The detrimental effects of atmospheric changes directly affect the processes that support life and may be irreversible. The agricultural animal industry contributes significantly to these environmental effects as a result of its contributions of animal-produced methane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen (in the form of highly soluble nitrate), and phosphorus. Agriculture has been identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the single most significant nonpoint source of nitrogen and phosphorus groundwater pollution (National Research Council, 1989b). Careful nutrient management can effectively reduce the amount of nutrients excreted by agricultural animals into the environment. The amount of urinary nitrogen excreted by a single dairy cow can be altered by as much as 50 percent by changing dietary protein levels (Andrew et al., 1991). Methane emissions from agricultural animals, which contributes to global warming and which is estimated to be between 15 and 20 percent of the total methane released annually, also can be decreased by altering the composition of the diet. Feeding animals in such a way as to minimize the levels of excretion of nutrients considered to be environmental pollutants, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, ammonia, and methane, is a logical starting point for reducing the harmful effects of agriculture on the environment. A data base of the nutrient composition of feeds will provide producers with the information they need to effectively feed their animals. Recycling By-Products and Wastes A corollary to reducing environmental pollution is the recycling of waste products. Prior to the awareness and popularity of recycling as it is known to the general public today, the value of recycling had been recognized in the agriculture industry. Animal agriculture has made use of wastes from food and beverage industries, industrial processing plants, municipalities, forestry and plant industries, and uniquely, the animal industry itself. More than 1 billion kilograms (2 billion pounds) of restaurant grease waste is used in animal feed annually (R. Rouse, Rouse Marketing, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, personal communication, January 1994). Approximately 16 billion kilograms (36 billion pounds) of animal by-products inedible by humans is recycled into animal feeds yearly. After appropriate processing, animal waste can productively be used as animal feedstuffs (Fontenot, 1991). The use of wastes and industrial by-products as animal feeds reduces the problems related to the disposal of these materials by incorporating them into productive alternatives. Acknowledging the nutrient value of alternative feedstuffs and disseminating that information increases their constructive and beneficial use.

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM Facilitating Sustainable Agriculture Animal production has taken on an added dimension in recent years as the value of the interrelationships between plant and animal systems has increasingly been recognized. The use of sustainable agriculture management practices results in the efficient use of natural resources, reduces the detrimental effects of farming on the environment, and maximizes biological relationships, thus reducing the direct costs associated with animal production. To assess the importance of feed composition data to sustainable agriculture practices, the critical characteristics of such a system are identified as follows: Sustainable agriculture maintains the long-term biological and ecological integrity of natural resources, while providing economic returns to individual farm and farm-related businesses. Sustainable agricultural practices contribute to the quality of life of rural populations and strengthen the economic development of countries in which they are employed (National Research Council, 1993:p. 2). Farming practices that use and maintain the integrity of natural resources while providing economic benefits are being encouraged and developed throughout the world. Perfecting animal nutrition to optimize nutrient utilization and minimize excess nutrient excretion exemplifies the goals of sustainable agriculture. ISSUES OF REGULATION Regulation of nutrient concentrations and feed contaminants is motivated by the desire to protect animal and human health. Similarly, regulations addressing the environmental impact of agriculture are driven by a concern for environmental health. Ensuring Food and Feed Safety Accurate and timely feed analyses can be used as the scientific basis for regulating foods and feeds. It is critical that accurate data be available to evaluate the safety of feed ingredients. Increasing public concern about feed contaminants suggests that a reliable and timely method of feed assessment is necessary. Regulation of mycotoxins (toxic metabolites of fungal contaminants of feed grains), for example, is increasing worldwide; however, the basis for the regulation of mycotoxins appears to be exclusive of scientific analysis regarding their presence in feeds in most countries (van Egmond, 1993). The use of a dynamic feed information system will help to ensure that food safety issues are evaluated fairly and justly on a scientific basis.

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM Managing Agricultural Pollution Often, regulations and recommendations impose additional costs on animal producers. Options for reducing the costs associated with decreasing the pollution caused by intensive animal production include the use of practical nutrient management. The problem of managing waste nutrients, often a focal point for regulation, can be addressed in part by using feed composition data for more efficient animal feeding. EXCHANGING INFORMATION AND IMPROVING TRADE Information on the nutrient content of U.S. agricultural commodities can be used internationally, increasing U.S. competitiveness in agricultural trade. The International Network of Feed Information Centres (INFIC), originally established in 1971 with 18 organizations, functions as a platform for contributing to sustainable, environmentally conscious, efficient animal production and a safer world food supply. INFIC promotes the establishment of main regional centers and continental networks of feed information centers as part of its goal of providing opportunities for the international exchange of information and cooperative processing of data on the nutrient composition of feeds. Currently, 37 institutions (from approximately 20 countries) throughout the world are members of INFIC. The function of INFIC is to improve access to reliable information on the composition, nutritive value, and practical use of feeds for animals. Because institutional membership is restricted to those countries that maintain an active national data base, the United States does not participate in the exchange of scientifically generated feed composition data. U.S. technical and scientific contributions to the efforts of the INFIC are conspicuously absent. Notwithstanding the benefits of association with INFIC, the United States has a responsibility not only as a nation of advanced, proven scientific capability but also as a prominent member of the world's agricultural trade market and a leader in environmental conservation efforts to encourage and take part in progressive international activities. Although the United States maintains a significant portion of the world's grain export market, it will be important to improve the U.S. position in the quality-sensitive import sector. Implementation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) will most likely result in grain quality becoming more important than price for determining world market share (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 1994b). Creation of a North American feed information system would allow feed purchasers to know the relative nutritional value of feeds, which they are not able to determine from the current grading system. For purposes of pricing, such a system also may result in the increased use of accurate data on the nutritive value of feed rather than physical characteristics, which is the basis of today's pricing system. In the market sectors where quality is a concern, the nutritive value of

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM grains will be more important than their physical characteristics, on which the current grading system is based. TRANSITION TO IMPROVED ANIMAL FEEDING A data base of feed composition was developed in the 1960s and was maintained at Utah State University until 1985, when it was transferred to the National Agricultural Library. Information from the data base was used extensively by livestock producers, feed manufacturers, educators, researchers, nutritionists, technical personnel, and consultants until 1990, when inadequate funding forced the demise of that system. An enormous amount of information is contained within the former data base. The need for accurate updated information on the nutrient composition of feeds has increased because of the absence of an existing comprehensive feed data base, the presence of new varieties and species of feed items, changing consumer preferences, increased concern for animal and human health, and the effects of agriculture on the environment. Recommendations A North American feed information system should be maintained within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently maintains several similar data bases. Data acquisition and verification could take place within a section of USDA that deals with agricultural research. Data entry, management, and dissemination could take place in a section appropriately staffed and equipped to handle those activities. The data base should have a national perspective and will be most successful and best recognized if it is housed permanently within USDA. An advisory group representing the users of a North American feed information system should be established. Representation of users within the system is important. In addition to assistance from the professional program staff, the quality assurance of the data base can be attained with an advisory group composed of representatives from the relevant user factions. The primary responsibilities of an advisory group would be to recommend the criteria that should be used to confirm the accuracy and validity of information, facilitate the accessibility of data, ensure regional representation, and provide additional scientific expertise. A strong relationship with industry and academia that ensures that representative sample information is acquired from throughout North America should be developed.

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM Partnership with industry can be accomplished at least in part through the wise use of the advisory group. The advisory group must have viable contacts throughout North America with industry and the land-grant university system. Use of these contacts will help to ensure that representative samples from throughout North America are collected and analyzed. The data base system should be adequately staffed to ensure appropriate data handling and rapid information dissemination. Staffing should reflect the need for data verification and acquisition and for data entry management and output. The overall organization should be staffed so that it includes individuals with in-depth knowledge of the composition of feeds as well as individuals with expertise in computer technology and data base management. The staff should be responsive to individuals or groups requesting information, provide accurate information and data, and contend with issues related to daily operations. The official methods of feed analysis of the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) are recommended for routine analyses of the nutrient composition of feeds. The usefulness of the feed information system will depend primarily on the accuracy and completeness of the chemical composition data that it contains. Therefore, a system for uniformly describing feeds needs to be developed, as should strict guidelines for the laboratory procedures that should be used to determine the nutrient composition of feeds and a system for quality control and standardization across the laboratories that submit data. A long-standing foundation for acceptable analytical standards exists in the official methods of analyses of AOAC. Feed ingredients should be classified by ingredient type and source. To accurately monitor an extensive amount of detailed information, a numbering system should be devised to classify and distinguish each feed entry. All chemically measurable components that have biological meaning should be included in the chemical description of each feed. Measures of carbohydrates (sugars, starch, total cell wall, cell wall components, and unavailable cell wall), total nitrogen and amino acids, total lipid and individual fatty acids, acid detergent-insoluble nitrogen, vitamins, and minerals in each feedstuff should be included in the data base. Information on the bioavailabilities of the nutrients in feedstuffs should be included as a standard component of the data base. This component was missing from the former feed data base. Chemically measurable values are used to predict the bioavailabilities of nutrients in different

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM species. A chemical composition data base may provide a general indication of the nutritive value of feedstuffs and a measure of the dynamic nature of nutrient composition over time or by geographical region, but a species-specific bioavailability data base is also needed to formulate diets in which the emphasis is on reducing the use of excess nutrients while optimizing animal performance. Data should be obtained from countries within North America and other countries. These sources should primarily include the scientific literature, commercial laboratories, and the feed industry. The proposed data base should include the most accurate data from the available literature. Chemical data will be accepted from other countries and chemical and biological data will be obtained from Canada and Mexico. The data generated by commercial laboratories and industry are also important and should be sought out by either contracting with or subsidizing the organizations for the provision of their information. The managers of the data base should go beyond passively collecting compositional data supplied by industry and service laboratories and gathering data from the scientific literature by actively participating in the identification of data needs, creating standards of data acceptability, and establishing mechanisms to ensure the accuracy of the data included in the data base. Data base managers should be involved in determining acceptable laboratory and sampling procedures and in actively collecting compositional and bioavailability data not readily available from other sources. A budget adequate to account for the routine costs incurred by similar data bases already in operation, costs associated with inflation, and costs of timely and efficient information gathering and dissemination is recommended. Two data bases (the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Data Bank and the Germplasm Resources Information Network) function in capacities similar to that proposed for the North American feed information system on annual budgets of $1.4 million and $1.2 million, respectively (see Chapter 4). On the basis of the operational constraints experienced by those data bases and given that continual updates would be required, it would not be unreasonable to project that a North American feed information system's annual budget could be in excess of $1.4 million. A financial investment on the order of $2.0 million for a North American feed information system would represent an increase in the utility of the data collected previously, by consolidating and making those data accessible to a wider and larger audience. In addition, a yearly budget of this amount would allow for the acquisition and dissemination of substantially more updated and useful information. This sum is also a small portion of the value associated with improved animal production (see Chapter 2). Consideration must

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BUILDING A NORTH AMERICAN FEED INFORMATION SYSTEM also be given to the significant impact that the data base will have on the U.S. economy and world trade (see Chapter 2). Practical Solutions Practical solutions to current predicaments can originate from one of the basic elements of the world's infrastructure: agricultural production of feeds. Feed management with respect to the world's human and animal population has the potential to bring answers to problems that begin on the farm and extend throughout the world' s ecosystem. Imperative to successfully managing feeding programs is the ability to obtain accurate and current chemical and biological information characterizing the value of the feeds, and this can be done through the proposed North American feed information system.