By Lacy Bates

What started out as a fuel cooperative in Dallas quickly grew into a nationally recognized meat and poultry trade organization. In 1957, a group of independent Texas meat packers united to form a fuel cooperative called Texas Independent Meat Packers Association. Their mission: to get better fuel prices for their delivery trucks. As the membership base grew outside the Texas border and after a few name changes, the Southwest Meat Association (SMA) was formed. Today, SMA is home to 300-plus member companies in 37 states across the United States.  The motto around SMA headquarters is “Everywhere is southwest of somewhere.”

SMA membership

SMA represents a diverse membership ranging from major meat packers and processors to establishments with only two employees. SMA membership types are divided into three categories: regular, associate, and affiliate membership. Regular members are packers, processors, and purveyors. Associate members are suppliers and service providers to the industry. They cover a spectrum of the industry with every imaginable connection to the production of meat and/or meat products. Affiliate members are livestock producers, financial institutions, or retail establishments.

What can SMA do for you?

  • Advocacy – SMA serves as a vocal advocate for the meat and poultry processing industry, often collaborating with like-minded organizations to leverage its effectiveness. SMA organizes frequent trips to Washington, D.C., offering its members direct access to key lawmakers and regulators.
  • Regulatory assistance – SMA is a clearinghouse for information about scores of state and federal rules, regulations, and laws affecting meat processors daily. Members receive frequent updates and advice for compliance with regulatory mandates. SMA retains legal counsel in Washington, D.C., for even the most difficult regulatory issues or crises.
  • Educational programs – SMA offers a variety of training activities that allow members to stay informed about the latest in processing technologies, product development, HACCP/SSOP implementation issues, and regulatory updates. SMA works closely with universities and private entities to provide the best and most useful programs.
  • HACCP training  SMA offers on-site HACCP training for all regular members. The training is open to all food safety, quality assurance, production managers, to upper management. 
  • Information services  SMA is an industry leader in timely, effective dissemination of news and information that impact meat processors.  SMA publishes a weekly newsletter, along with timely news briefs, regulatory updates, and other messages to stay on top of the latest developments.
  • Responsiveness – SMA provides outstanding leadership and prompt response for technical, regulatory, and political issues, whether assisting members during crisis situations (e.g., recalls) or providing public comment and testimony on key rules and legislation.

SMA’s Annual Convention

SMA is headed to the beaches of Galveston, Texas, for the 66th Annual Convention & Suppliers’ Showcase on July 27-30, 2022. This is a time for meat processors, packers, and vendors from across the nation to come together for three days filled with educational content, networking, scholarship fundraising, and good laughs. The convention is open to all SMA members and non-members, from company owners, C-level executives, to management at all levels.

Thursday, July 28, the convention debuts with the Bob Ondrusek Memorial Golf Tournament. The funds from the golf hole sponsorships go directly to scholarships. Later that evening, convention attendees will gather for a live concert from a Texas-based singer/songwriter.

Friday, July 29, SMA gets down to business with the first general session. Speakers and topics include:

  • Building Your Brand – Neil Dudley, Pederson’s Natural Farm
  • FSIS Update – Dr. J. Emilio Esteban, USDA/FSIS
  • Novel Alternative Curing System – Dr. Wes Osburn, Texas A&M University
  • USDA Processor Lending Programs – Sam Jarvis, Veritex Bank
  • Commodity Outlook – Dr. David Anderson, Texas A&M University

The Suppliers’ Showcase will be Friday from 4-7pm.  This is a tabletop exhibit for associate members to provide information about their products and services. The dinner and lively auction will immediately follow the showcase. This event is sure to be filled with lots of family-friendly entertainment and scholarship fundraising.

Business isn’t over yet. On Saturday, July 30, SMA presents the second general session. Speakers and topics include:

  • Environmental Sampling Best Practices – Douglas Marshall Ph.D., Eurofins, and TBD, Food Safety Net Services
  • Managing Questions About Your Animal Welfare Program with Customers and Officials – Jason McAlister, CloverLeaf Animal Welfare Systems
  • Workplace Issues – David Barron, Cozen O’Connor
  • Employee Retention Tax Credit – Allyson Baumeister, CLA
  • University Updates

The convention culminates Saturday evening at the Chairman’s Dinner & Dance, where SMA inducts members into the Hall of Fame and awards scholarships to the next generation of meat and poultry industry leaders. In 2021, SMA awarded $84,500 in scholarships to qualified candidates from many universities.

Registration for the 66th Annual Convention & Suppliers’ Showcase is open at If you would like more information about joining SMA, please reach out to the SMA office at (979) 846-9011 or contact Lacy Bates at