Pet food and animal feed industry employees spent more time volunteering and giving back to the community in 2016 than in 2015, according to the American Feed Industry Association’s (AFIA) annual Community Involvement and Charitable Giving Survey.

The informal poll, conducted at the close of each year, tallies community service hours and funds donated by participating companies. Results show more than 41,000 hours of community service donated by AFIA member companies' employees in 2016, a 28 percent increase from 2015. Nearly US$2.2 million was also contributed to a list of community causes.

"This is the sixth consecutive year [according to Charity Navigator] charitable giving has increased," said AFIA President and CEO Joel G. Newman, in a press release. “Funds donated by corporations alone are up nearly 4 percent.”

AFIA members identified education-, civil service-, agriculture-, health- and collegiate grants/research-oriented charities as key causes to contribute both funds and volunteer time to, with 96 percent of respondents engaging in ways to better education programs, up 1 percent from 2015. Civil service charities also ranked high with respondents at an 88 percent contribution level, up a significant 18 percent from 2015. In total, there were 443 various charities donated to in 2016.

Sustainability in the US feed industry

AFIA established a sustainability task force in 2009, which identified four key animal feed and pet food company sustainability focal points, designed for communication and collaboration between organizations, companies and associations. "Support the Community" is one of the four focal points AFIA asks its members to participate in as part of its sustainability initiative. The remaining focal points are: optimize the use of energy and natural resources for feed production; enhance production efficiency and productivity; and promote understanding and appreciation of U.S. food production.

The term "sustainability" is defined by the feed industry organization as: The ability to provide a continuous, safe and nutritious feed supply for poultry, livestock, fish and pets in a manner that optimizes environmental quality and the use of natural resources, while positively affecting the social and economic well-being of customers, their communities and the industry.