AFIA/Feedstuffs name Koch Farms as 2019 Feed Facility of the Year

Award recognizes overall excellence in feed manufacturing operations, from company’s commitment to safety, quality and regulatory compliance to employee development to overall operating efficiencies.

January 30, 2020

4 Min Read
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Koch Farms of Morton, Miss., wins the 2019 FFY of the year and the integrator category. From left: Gary Huddleston, AFIA's director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs; Dennis Gordon, Koch Farms' regional vice president; Deb Garczynski, wife of Frank; Frank Garczynski, Koch Farms' mill manager; Tim Belstra, AFIA's Board chair; Constance Cullman, AFIA's president and CEO; and Sarah Muirhead, Feedstuffs' editor.

The American Feed Industry Assn. (AFIA) and Feedstuffs congratulate Koch Farms of Morton, Miss., for being named the 2019 Feed Facility of the Year (FFY). Gary Huddleston, AFIA director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs, announced that the mill won the award during AFIA’s Feed Production Education Program, held at the International Production & Processing Expo in Atlanta, Ga.

“Koch Farms is our overall winner because it is extremely obvious that the mill is very well managed,” Huddleston said. “I was blown away by the cleanliness of the facility, and that shows how dedicated the whole team is to delivering a safe and high-quality product.”

The FFY award recognizes overall excellence in feed manufacturing operations, from the company’s commitment to safety, quality and regulatory compliance to employee development to overall operating efficiencies. To date, only 34 facilities have received this esteemed industry award.

Koch Farms’ Morton mill produces nearly 800,000 tons of feed per year, all of it going to the poultry integrator’s farms located in the surrounding region. Koch Farms is part of Koch Foods, a food processor and distributor based in Park Ridge, Ill., that is considered among the largest private companies in the U.S. Started as a one-room operation in 1985, Koch Foods is today considered one of the nation’s largest vertically integrated poultry producers, with locations across Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee.

There are many factors that helped Koch Farms win the overall FFY award, including its commitment to organization, cleanliness and safety. At Koch Farms, cleanliness and safety go hand in hand and are the center of the team’s daily mission. “A clean work area is a safe work area” is the messaging prominently displayed at the mill in Morton, and to mill manager Frank Garczynski, those aren’t merely words.

The mill has a built-in vacuum system for cleaning, which has been upgraded in the past year to allow for even more effective cleanups. The new vacuum system is available to all levels of the facility and allows the team to carry the hose from area to area and simply plug it in. Garczynski noted that with the 30 hp motor, it is very effective at removing dust.

“Cleanliness is important not only from a safety and quality standpoint, but it also helps with employee morale and retention,” Garczynski said. “The facility is often visited by the Koch management team and potential and existing customers.”

A new parts and equipment maintenance storage building has enabled the facility to maintain excellent organization and cleanliness. “Prior to the new storage building, organization was nearly impossible, and cleanliness in that part of the facility was a struggle,” Garczynski said. “It was very difficult to lay hands on or know what parts were accessible quickly.”

The facility has upwards of 325 grouped areas of equipment in its parts management system. Garczynski explained that they can’t risk long periods of downtime at the mill, as it can have significant ramifications throughout the rest of the production system. The new 70 x 40 storage building is where the parts are inventoried and stored to allow for easy access when needed. The facility used a Lean Management-influenced 6-S organization (sort, set in order, shine, standardize, sustain and safety) system to lay out the building contents.

Despite the large amount of feed produced, the Morton mill has not had a lost-time accident in four years. The mill is considered in the top 5% of individual mill capacities worldwide, and it is all produced in just five days a week.

AFIA has conducted the FFY program since 1985, and it is recognized as a first-class benchmarking program for the animal food industry, awarding top-performing facilities in four categories: commercial dry, integrator, liquid feed and premix. From those, the FFY award is selected. More information on the FFY program, as well as a list of past winners, can be found on AFIA’s website.

AFIA recognized the category winners last week and honored them with plaques at today’s Feed Production Education program. Western Milling of Goshen, Cal., topped the commercial dry livestock feed category; Koch Farms of Morton, Miss., won the integrator category; Quality Liquid Feeds of Menomonie, Wis., won the liquid feed plant category, and Trouw Nutrition of Neosho, Mo., won the premix manufacturing plant category.

AFIA would also like to recognize the semifinalists of each program category, including:

  • Commercial dry livestock feed category -- Kent Nutrition Group of Bow, N.H.; ADM Nutrition of Cordele, Ga., and Kent Nutrition Group of Columbus, Neb.

  • Premix category -- Animix of Juneau, Wis., and Bellstra Milling of Demotte, Ind.

  • Integrator category -- Sanderson Farms of Oakwood, Texas; Collins, Miss., and Laurel, Miss.

  • Liquid feed plant category -- Performix Nutrition Systems of Nampa, Ida.

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