Intermountain Farmers Association (IFA) has established a reputation in the feed industry of producing the highest quality feed while meeting the strict regulatory requirements of the feed business. The recent focus on implementing the new Feed Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has helped to further strengthen IFA’s quality assurance program. Striving for excellence in quality products, customer service, and competitive pricing has always been part of the culture of IFA as noted in the first and fifth tenets of the IFA Mission Statement:
First, “Manufacture and distribute products and deliver services to the agriculture community that are reasonably priced and professionally provided, and identify and develop markets based on customer needs and opportunity.”
Fifth, “Serve our customers to their complete satisfaction.”
Feed quality is one of the most important aspects for our customers’ bottom line, and consequently important to the bottom line of our cooperative. So, what are we doing at IFA to meet these high feed quality standards?
1. Outside Quality Certifications
All IFA mills are double certified yearly thru Safe Food Safe Feed (SFSF) and HACCP. You may have noticed these certifications on your IFA feed product labels.
2. Feed Ingredients
At IFA, our Quality Feed Program begins with incoming ingredients.
Our buyers are quality driven and our suppliers are prequalified during our Approved Supplier Program. As feed ingredients arrive, we inspect and sample each load of raw ingredients before we receive it into our mills.
As part of our Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), we follow a written laboratory testing schedule to verify the quality of all of our raw ingredients to ensure that our minimum nutrient standards are being met.
As such, we regularly reject poor quality ingredients that do not meet our high standards. We have made a significant investment in our own in-house Near Infra-red (NIR) feed quality analysis capability. We feel it is our duty to protect our customers by only receiving quality ingredients into our facilities.
3. Process Controls
In order to get our quality ingredients into a quality mix or pellet, our operators follow our IFA Feed Manufacturing SOPs.
Operator training is crucial to ensuring that feeds are made to the nutritionist’s specifications.
As part of our FSMA compliance, we record and verify each ingredient and grain processing step. We keep records for each process and have our Quality Control Team monitor these records continually to ensure we stay within our tight manufacturing tolerances.
We are constantly upgrading and maintaining our equipment to ensure we meet our internal quality standards for pelleting, flaking, grinding and mixing. We also regularly sample and test our semi-finished and finished products to ensure we are meeting our internal written manufacturing specifications and label claims.
4. Sales Team & Feed Delivery
IFA’s sales team members know our customers personally and care about the families they serve. They regularly visit the farms and check on their feed needs. The sales team members also come to the mills to see how we are making the feeds and help our mill managers identify areas for improvement. We have one of the best feed delivery teams in the feed industry. Our drivers are keen to watch for feed quality as they help load and deliver the feeds on their assigned routes. Driver education is also crucial in order to ensure we follow FSMA guidelines and our internal feed delivery SOPs. We clean and flush the trucks’ feed compartments as needed between each quality feed delivery.
5. People, People, People
The feed safety and quality culture at IFA comes down to people working as teams that really care about the customers we serve. From our top managers to our part-time operators, we are all committed to a culture of EXCELLENCE in our feed quality, employee safety, and customer satisfaction.
Written by Gary Bradley, PhD, and originally published in the IFA Cooperator magazine (vol. 84, no. 1) Spring 2018. Gary manages Tech. Services & Quality Assurance/Control at IFA North Region Feed.
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