During the last two years, COVID-19 has caused many issues for small and medium-sized meat processors. They often have had a difficult time hiring an adequate number of employees, while at the same time there has been an increased demand for their services. Small and medium-sized meat processors are essential to local livestock producers as a place to have their animals harvested and processed, and at the same time, they are essential to providing meat products to customers in their area. I have on occasion used the phrase; it is difficult for an island to survive a tsunami. Small and medium-sized meat processors that have tried to operate as islands have certainly had a more difficult time than companies that have belonged to and participated in meat processor associations, which are an excellent source of information for meat processors. There are several excellent meat processor associations for small and medium-sized meat processors.

American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP)

The AAMP website is www.aamp.com. AAMP headquarters is in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. AAMP is North America’s largest meat trade organization. Membership includes more than 1,400 small and medium-sized meat, poultry, and food businesses. Members include slaughter operations, packers, processors, wholesalers, in-home food service businesses, retailers, deli and catering operations, and industry suppliers. AAMP is affiliated with numerous state and regional meat trade organizations. AAMP membership is available in the following categories: Processor (processing, wholesale, retail, food production, etc.), Supplier (provides a service, equipment, spices, consulting, etc.), Allied (university students, academia, government), Associate (retired meat plant operators).

AAMP has a lot of excellent information on many different topics on their website. AAMP members receive a Choice Cuts Weekly Electronic Newsletter and the monthly AAMPLIFIER. Each year AAMP sponsors the American Convention of Meat Processors and Suppliers’ Exhibition. This year it will be held July 14-16 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network (NMPAN)

The NMPAN website is www.nichemeatprocessing.org. NMPAN is located at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. NMPAN is a university Extension-based national community of practice of people and organizations helping small and medium-sized meat plants. Many different groups are a part of NMPAN; meat processors (custom and inspected), slaughter through retail butchers, livestock producers (marketers and buyers), companies that support the meat sector, Cooperative Extension and other academics, state and federal departments of agriculture, food safety and health, non-governmental organizations. NMPAN has affiliates in 43 states.

There is no cost to belong to NMPAN. At the NMPAN website you can sign up to belong to NMPAN and also sign up to be a part of the NMPAN Listserv. The listserv has 1,000+ members across the United States and gives you the opportunity to ask and answer questions and share information about meat and poultry processing. Many meat processors have found the listserv to be a very valuable resource. As a member of NMPAN you will also receive a monthly electronic newsletter. The NMPAN website also has numerous webinars that you can watch.

State and Regional Meat Processor Trade Associations

There are numerous state and regional meat processor associations in the United States. Both AAMP and NMPAN have information on their websites about state and regional meat processor associations. Many of these trade associations have meetings and annual conventions that are very beneficial to attend.

Remember; Belonging to and participating in meat processor association activities can contribute significantly to your success. Do not try to operate as an island and try to survive by yourself the tsunami of issues that small and medium-sized meat processors are facing.