News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 4, 2013

The extra step: Feed company gets special certification

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Graham Feed Co. in Terre Haute has attained a Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification from the American Feed Industry Association.

The Safe Feed/Safe Food program is a voluntary, third-party certified initiative designed for feed mills and feed- and ingredient-related facilities in the United States and Canada. The program establishes comprehensive standards that go beyond existing U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation, exceeding measures in nearly every category.

There are about 330 feed-related facilities that have earned the certification nationwide.

“To us it is a big fact, as there are no other mills our size in Indiana that are Safe Feed/Safe Food certified,” said Dick Smith, company president during an announcement Wednesday at the company’s retail store at 200 Voorhees St.

“We are doing this for our customers and the future,” he said. “The FDA and USDA [Department of Agriculture] are really beginning to look at what goes into an animal’s mouth. This was voluntary on our part, but someday down this road, this will not be voluntary. We are trying to keep our company ahead of the curve.”

“It was a huge project ... and everybody stepped up to get this done,” Smith said.

Graham Feed is a regional feed manufacturing company distributing its products to 10 states under the Gram Feed Co. label or under private labels for other companies, such as Kent Nutrition Group and Central Farm Supply, based in Louisville, Ky.

In addition to feed production, Graham Feed is the third-largest U.S. salt distributor for North American Salt Co. Graham Feed also operates a milo grain elevator, which has produced as much as 28 tons (1 million bushels) of milo feed — grain sorghum — used in bird and dog food.

Ben Furlong, operations manager and horse specialist for Graham Feed, led a team for the Safe Feed/Safe Food certification starting in January. The company became certified in October.

“We took a good look at our manufacturing practices, and then we stepped up and raised the bar,” Furlong said. “We did this by educating our employees, documenting new procedures and heightening our awareness of biosecurity that we have in our feed mill and whole company,” he said.

Graham Feed has started a product-tracing program, which allows the company to track the origin of ingredients used and where the end product is sold. “We use lock codes on every single one of our products,” Furlong said.

The company “maintains an effective documented quality system to ensure customers receive products that are superior in value. Our food safety policy now allows us to identify potential food and feed safety hazards which include chemical, physical and radiological and biological risks” and minimize the potential of contamination, Furlong said.

The Graham family started the company in 1935 and expanded its mill in 1956, Smith said.

Dick and Donnetta Smith are current owners of company. They purchased the business in 1990, after buying out business partner Jack Ragle. The couple built a new four-story mill in 2002, which allowed the operation to become a regional mill. That mill is located on Indiana 63, about a half mile south of the company’s retail store.

Smith, 67, who has been at the feed company for 36 years, is a 1968 graduate of Indiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

“Terre Haute had been really good to this company. This company prides itself as being a source of knowledge for the feed industry as well as a production point,” Smith said.

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett said the company’s certification shows a commitment to the feed industry and the city.

“The fact that they are taking a step above what most normal product suppliers of this size would do is good for Graham Feed, but also shows from a community perspective that we have a quality vendor here,” said Bennett, who attended the certification announcement.

 

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.