AAFCO welcomes Austin Therrell as new executive director

Press release: AAFCO

CHAMPAIGN, Ill., Sept. 7, 2022 – The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is pleased to introduce its new executive director Austin Therrell, who brings a mix of leadership, innovation and deep experience in animal-feed and state regulation to the organization during an exciting and progressive time for the industry. Therrell begins his new role on Sept. 6.

With a growing focus on animal-feed regulation in the U.S. and around the world, Therrell’s new position is well-timed to guide and support AAFCO’s vision, mission, strategic objectives and initiatives for promoting a safe feed supply through unified system-based regulation, feed-ingredient standards and laboratory operations. He will report to AAFCO’s board of directors, while working alongside AAFCO’s members to ensure they have the tools and resources needed to succeed within the association and their individual states.

As a member and leader within AAFCO, Therrell has already been active in the organization’s initiatives and achievements. In addition to serving on AAFCO’s board of directors, he has co-chaired the Feed and Feed Ingredient Manufacturing Committee, been a member of the Pet Food Committee, and led many workgroups drafting and revising guidelines. Therrell has worked with numerous feed industry trade associations on a wide range of initiatives.

“Austin’s extensive regulatory and feed industry knowledge and involvement with AAFCO make him the ideal fit as executive director. He brings relevant experience and a fresh perspective to AAFCO, adding greater depth to ensure compliance with state and federal laws affecting animal food. We are excited to have him lead us and guide us,” said George Ferguson, president of the AAFCO Board of Directors.

Previously, Therrell held multiples roles within the Animal Feed Regulatory Program at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture (SCDA), having served as the Feed Safety Program Manager since 2020. During his time at SCDA, he oversaw the development and implementation of new strategic improvement plans and a new feed registration system, expanded the agency’s regulatory authority throughout the state, managed Food and Drug Administration (FDA) feed contracts and inspections, and fully implemented the Animal Feed Regulatory Program Standards (AFRPS).

Therrell was one of more than 60 candidates across the country. He was evaluated and selected for the combination of his government and regulatory experience, food chain and industry knowledge, feed regulation material comprehension, strategic planning, and leadership skills.

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Meet Austin Therrell

Therrell views the executive director position as an opportunity to work closer with AAFCO leadership, members and partners to lead the organization into the next chapter. He shares his vision and goals for this new role, while answering the following questions:

  • Why did you first get involved with AAFCO? “I first got involved with AAFCO because I wanted to connect and learn from other state feed control officials around the country that were doing the same type of work that I was doing. Early on, I knew that AAFCO was a place to go for institutional knowledge about animal food regulation — full of people and resources that would benefit our regulatory program in South Carolina.”
  • How has AAFCO contributed or played a role in your career with SCDA? “The partnerships I have made through AAFCO, and the things I’ve learned by getting involved on committees and workgroups, have played a huge role in my career in South Carolina. AAFCO has taught me a lot about animal feed, but even more about leadership, management and teamwork. AAFCO members have been there every step of the way to support and guide me, as I worked to build a strong feed regulatory program for the last two of my eight years at the South Carolina Department of Agriculture.”
  • Why are you excited to be AAFCO’s next executive director? “I believe there’s a growing focus on animal feed regulation in the United States and around the world, and I am excited to have the opportunity to work closer with our members, industry advisors and the board of directors to lead the association into a new chapter — especially as we focus on new and innovative ways to continue being the trusted leader that safeguards animal and human health.”
  • What do you intend to bring to AAFCO members or how do you intend to support AAFCO members in this new role? “I intend to bring a renewed passion for the important work that AAFCO does. My goal is to work alongside the board of directors to ensure that AAFCO members have the tools and resources they need to succeed, both within AAFCO and at home within each individual state. Being equipped to do our jobs successfully benefits regulators, the animal food industry, and ultimately consumers.”
  • Where would you like to see AAFCO in five years? In 10 years? “Over the next five years, I would like to see AAFCO continue to grow, in numbers and in member participation. I believe this growth and engagement will position us to have an impact on a broader, international scale in the next 10 years.”