Out of my Comfort Zone and into the Industry

My education has always given me a foundation to develop personally and professionally but last week I was granted the opportunity to use the knowledge I have learned through my coursework and apply it in the industry. Five students from across the nation were selected to receive sponsorship to attend the KC Animal Health Homecoming Dinner and Investment Forum.

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Monday morning I packed my bags and left at the crack of dawn for to the heart of the animal health industry, Kansas City.

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Kansas City is the hub of the largest concentration of companies in animal health allowing companies and organizations to network, advocate, maximize research findings, and assist each other in the success of the industry. With more than 300 companies, the Corridor represents 56% of the worldwide sales of animal health, diagnostics, and pet food products. Companies within the Corridor span from worldwide companies like Cargill, Merck, or Bayer Animal Health to small start- up companies to educational institutes and Veterinary Medicine schools.

For ten years, the KC Animal Health Corridor has hosted an annual gathering of CEOs, upper-level management, and leaders within the industry. The two-day gathering consists of an industry overview on Monday afternoon presenting the year’s successes, hurdles, and innovations followed by the Homecoming Dinner that evening and the Investment Forum the following morning.

Throughout the event, I met some exceptional people. Keynote speakers at the dinner included Ian Spinks, President and General Manager of Bayer HealthCare LLC and Chair of the KC Animal Health Corridor, Bob Marcusse, President and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council, Dr. Ralph Richardson, Interim Dean and CEO of the K-State Olathe campus and 2015 Iron Paw Award Recipient, and Dayton Moore, Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Kansas City Royals. I had many opportunities to network and met upper level management for Boehringer Ingelheim, One Medicine Consulting, Merck Animal Health, the CEO of Ceva Animal Health, the President of Agriculture Future of America, and Kim Young, President of the Animal Health Corridor.

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Dayton Moore, GM of the Kansas City Royals

Not only did I take away some great connections, but I also learned a TON about the animal health industry. Here’s a general overview of some of my takeaways:

The Animal Health Industry – show me some facts!

What does this industry consist of? Animal health is anything that keeps our companion animals and production animals healthy, including: vaccines, feed additives, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, etc.

What’s the scope in the U.S.? The U.S. animal health market netted about 24 million in 2014. Consumers spent 8.35 billion on animal health products, with 4 billion spent on small animals and the next highest amount on ruminant animals. The Americas hold the largest portion of global sales and account for nearly half the market.

What companies should I know about? The top company in the market right now is Zoetis, followed by Merck and Merial. Zoetis is known for their antibiotics and anti-infectives. Other top 10 companies include Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmetica, a company focusing on biologicals and special drugs such as pain and cardiac medicines, and Ceva, a company focusing on poultry and swine products, and reproductive hormones. Companies like these spent 600 million in innovation in the past year.

What are some issues/hurdles for animal health manufacturers? One of the issues for manufacturers is called “channel blurring,” or the shift from some of the major products from being sold at vet clinics to over the counter. Another hurdle is the market change to consumers being more curious about their food, meaning antibiotic use, welfare, and hormone use in their production animal products. Federal agencies have become more diligent with this increasing awareness and are becoming more and more vigilant on manufacturing compliance. Upon market entry, manufacturers should expect to spend twice the money and twice the time during the approval process. Believe it or not, 85% of products on the market have sales of less than one million and sales of over 100 million are very rare.

Investment Forum Takeaways – holy innovation!

The Investment Forum of the Corridor’s event allowed start-up companies and existing companies to showcase their innovation proving that the future of research and development is bright! Some of the new products and ideas that interested me include:
• Antibiotic alternatives
• A device that monitors PH levels in the rumen and communicates it to devices to monitor harmful effects of acidosis.
• Cancer immunotherapy
• Arthritis treatment
• DNA detection platforms

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Find any of this information interesting? Learn more at:

Another great resource to find out more about the animal health industry: ahi.org

How did I get this opportunity? This spring I attended the Agriculture Future of America: Animal Institute in Kansas City, a conference that provides insight into the animal industry through networking and industry tours. AFA is a wonderful organization that supports college students by preparing them for a career in the agriculture and food industry. AFA tailors to all agriculture students’ interests with institutes in crop science, leadership, public policy, and opportunities such as scholarships and internships. Learn more at agfuture.org!


10 Ways Biotechnology Improves Our Lives Beyond GMO Crops

Beef Runner

Image via library.cshl.edu Image via library.cshl.edu

Farmers and ranchers are the original environmental stewards. Ever since the earliest days of open range grazing, U.S. Agriculture has been working one on one with our natural resources. There have been a few rough patches through expansion, but we have learned enormous amounts of information about working with an in our environments and that effort continues every day. However, if you log in to many online forums or even turn on the television, one might be persuaded otherwise if we consider all the negativity surrounding the topics of modern food production today.

Many of the hottest debates center around the topics of biotechnology. You may see it referenced as Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) or addressing companies that license and specialize in these technologies, like Monsanto. Many online forums blast out messages of how unnatural biotechnologies are and many folks are adamantly against their use.


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