By: Barry Carpenter, president and CEO, North American Meat Institute
A year and a half ago, it started as a simple idea from the executive boards of the American Meat Institute (AMI) and North American Meat Association (NAMA): join forces to create a single organization that represents the interests of the entire meat and poultry packing and processing industry. The idea grew into board level discussions and approvals, a merger committee, transition committee, staff collaboration and finally as of January 1, a new organization: the North American Meat Institute (NAMI).
The merger brings together two great organizations, each with their own strengths, personalities and cultures, into one larger, stronger, better organization. AMI brought a wide array of experts on issues like the environment, animal welfare and worker safety as well as scientific depth. NAMA brought a hands-on regulatory services team that works in the trenches each day with members that are challenged by the intense regulatory oversight that is A Day in the Life of the Meat Industry. AMI was intensely Washington-focused while NAMA’s fingers were in the field.
Sure, the process has caused some discomfort along the way as staffs were blended and as duplicative functions sorted out. But through the leadership of an outstanding Merger Committee and an equally visionary and dedicated Transition Committee, we have done it. Today, we have a single Web site, a new logo and a “brand” identity. Most importantly, we speak with a larger collective voice.
So what can you expect from the merged organization?
From a big picture perspective, NAMI will lead a unified effort to confront the challenges we face as an industry, whether on the regulatory front, from our lawmakers, from the media or from some activist groups. This includes a strong voice with our regulators at USDA, FDA and others as well as hands on assistance at the plant level, where our staff can guide members on inspection rules and regulations and other issues that might arise.
More specifically, members will benefit from:
- A combined website meatinstitute.org which features important regulatory, scientific, legislative, international trade, communications and other materials of importance to members
- Scientific research and expertise through the NAMI Foundation
- Crisis communications support before, during and after an event
- The Lean Trimmings Newsletter with weekly industry news and updates
- Expanded education and networking opportunities throughout the year
The first of these events will be later this month at the International Production and Processing Expo (IPPE). In addition to the best in education, exhibits and technology, the show will also bring together the expanded NAMI member base to network and exchange ideas. They will learn from each other, from the speakers and from our exhibitors. These experiences make us all better and stronger, and they serve to cement relationships and to build unity.
This is just the start of a larger journey to be the leading industry voice that is so important in today’s environment. We look forward to you joining us in the effort.