One of the benefits of the Land O’Lakes cooperative system is the extensive network of industry experts who play vital roles in shaping and navigating rules and regulations that impact member businesses every day.
In early 2017, Senior Manager of Feed and Construction Consulting for the Strategic Asset Management (SAM) team, Rob Yarborough was elected to the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) production compliance committee. The committee focuses on working with production regulations and providing leadership by developing industry benchmarks to establish trends, creating workshops for the industry, looking at the relationship between feed mills and grain elevators and more.
With so much for the AFIA production compliance committee to consider, Rob is most passionate about new regulations and finding the best outcomes for SAM team customers. Rob is dedicated to continuing to learn about the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and other regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation. These regulations have the most influence on customer operations.
“The biggest question we get from Land O’Lakes’ cooperative members is that they want to understand the regulatory process and how it impacts them,” Rob says. “The AFIA production compliance committee provides me with the opportunity to be as close to the source of regulations as possible, understand the changes that are coming and learn how to implement those changes for the co-ops.”
As a part of the SAM team, Rob works with owners all over the U.S. in figuring out the best way to create local feed manufacturing solutions. Rob began his career with the team in 2013, overseeing fertilizer plant constructions and consulting on various feed projects. He now leads customer feed asset projects nationwide.
Working in the agriculture industry for 30 years, Rob has seen a lot of change in feed technology. From transitions in mill automation to changes in how diets for animals are prepared, Rob says a lot of the developments were caused by the market for corn and soy, along with updated regulations for mills.“
We are trying to accelerate the learning curve of the industry,” Rob says. “With the age and condition of the assets in inventory, most co-op general managers and boards have not built a feed facility. Most of the co-op feed manufacturing facilities were built in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Generally, people get the opportunity to build a capital asset once, maybe twice in their working career. We bring in industry professionals; people that understand the business, understand the trends; bring them to the table so we can build an asset that is viable 50 years into the future.”
Before building new assets, the team considers all options. They start out by building a business case assessment that evaluates the project based on the future needs of the marketplace and the investment potential returns. The assessment includes such areas as current feed business, customer needs assessment, competitor capability, asset efficiency, financial performance, regulatory compliance, market trends, and the risk and exposure of the enterprise.“
We want to help develop a solution, whether that is building a new facility, retrofitting an existing facility, looking at a merger or a possible joint venture with another neighbor to increase footprint,” Rob says. “It’s the overall value of bringing a streamlined feed process to the producer.” By working in multiple facets of the livestock industry, Rob has developed an understanding for all the industry players. This understanding provides him with knowledge and connections that he shares with customers as they are looking to improve their feed assets. “
This is a great opportunity to work with local cooperatives and bring industry professionals to the table to bring everyone up to speed on feed mill construction techniques and processes,” Rob says. “It’s been great playing the role of mediator to bring those two together.”
In its almost five years of existence, the SAM team has consulted with customers on more than 134 projects, including over $700 million worth of actual and potential construction. Currently, SAM is advising on the construction of three new feed mills that, when finished, will provide 1.3 million tons of feed for the cooperative system.
Have a project in mind and think SAM can help? Check out our Retail Services website to see all the offerings available to owners, including construction, mergers and acquisitions, business optimization, valuation, benchmarking and communications.