The International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) has been at the forefront of promoting innovation and education within the milling industry, and recent events showcase its commitment to these goals. From partnering with organizations like the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri (GSEM) to addressing crucial industry issues at committee, district and region meetings, IAOM continues to drive progress and development within the field.

One of the standout initiatives already in 2024 was the collaboration between IAOM and GSEM to introduce young girls to the intricacies of the flour milling industry. Held on January 26-27, the “Flour Rangers! Milling Flour for Girl Scout Cookies” program marked a significant milestone in engaging youth with the world of milling.

IAOM Board Member Eric Knott, Miller Milling, and Dana Edwards, Ardent Mills, show the youngest of the Flour Rangers how wheat is transformed into flour. Photo courtesy of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.
IAOM Board Member Eric Knott, Miller Milling, and Dana Edwards, Ardent Mills, show the youngest of the Flour Rangers how wheat is transformed into flour. Photo courtesy of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri.

Thanks to the support of industry experts at Ardent Mills, Grain Craft, Kansas State University, and Miller Milling, Girl Scouts from grades K-12 had the opportunity to delve into the fascinating process of flour production.

The program featured a series of interactive activities designed to provide hands-on experience and insight into various aspects of flour milling. From grinding wheat with hand mills, to experimenting with different types of flour, to understanding protein content variations, the girls actively participated in every step of the milling process. Moreover, activities like gluten washing allowed them to explore the science behind flour production in a fun and engaging manner.

One of the highlights of the program was the introduction of the organization’s first flour milling patch, which more than 90 girls earned upon completion. This recognition not only celebrates their participation but also signifies their newfound knowledge and appreciation for the milling industry.

Beyond the practical skills acquired, the program also opened doors to potential career paths within the industry. Through discussions with milling professionals and insights into various career opportunities, the girls gained valuable insights into the diverse roles available, from sales and quality assurance to management and training.

The success of the program reflects the industry’s commitment to nurturing future talent and fostering innovation. By providing opportunities for hands-on learning and exposure to potential career paths, organizations like IAOM and its partners are laying the groundwork for a vibrant and sustainable future for the milling industry.

In addition to its efforts to promote the industry, IAOM’s committees have met several times over the past year to address a range of industry issues and advancements. A focus for all committees is to develop and review educational materials, including videos, conference presentations, and courses. Also discussed are various safety topics, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations and upcoming standards, emphasizing the importance of safety protocols and preparedness. The committees addressed diversity and inclusion initiatives, as well as preventive controls, FDA strategies, and research projects.

A series of maintenance videos developed by the Education Committee will be available to members through IAOM’s Live Learning Center (llc.iaom.org) as a training tool for mills.


Attendees at the IAOM Latin America Region Conference engage with industry expert panelists during the technical sessions. Photo courtesy of IAOM.
Attendees at the IAOM Latin America Region Conference engage with industry expert panelists during the technical sessions. Photo courtesy of IAOM.

IAOM International Regions

IAOM’s commitment to networking and collaboration was evident through the organization of over 10 district and region meetings in 2023. These gatherings brought together more than 1,500 milling professionals and suppliers, providing a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, and collaboration. The most recent conferences were held in Mexico City, Mexico in February (Latin America) and Cairo, Egypt in November (Middle East and Africa).

Both of the multi-day events featured a diverse array of educational sessions, covering both time-tested practices and cutting-edge advancements in the industry.

The technical programs featured a variety of workshops and presentations led by industry experts. Technical sessions covered topics such as grain logistics, alternatives to the chlorination process, new features on starch damage, and advancements in bagging technology and industrial monitoring systems.

Notable presentations included discussions on the application of belt differentials to roller mills, automatic testing systems, and sustainability initiatives in milling operations. The program also delved into emerging technologies.

Throughout the conferences, attendees had the opportunity to learn about next-generation milling systems, heat treatment for pest control, and the determination of the rheological properties of dough. Success stories with the use of wheat from different origins and considerations for ingredient suppliers were also shared, providing valuable insights for milling professionals.

The value of technical education.
Overall, these IAOM conferences provide a platform for networking, knowledge-sharing, and professional development, enabling attendees to stay abreast of the latest trends and innovations in the milling sector.

Melinda Farris, CEO, IAOM
Melinda Farris, CEO, IAOM

IAOM’s recent initiatives and activities highlight the association’s dedication to driving innovation, education, and collaboration within the milling industry. From empowering young girls through immersive educational programs to addressing key industry challenges in committee and regional meetings, IAOM continues to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of milling. As the industry evolves, initiatives like these will be instrumental in fostering a skilled workforce, promoting sustainability, and driving progress across the milling sector.