Legal and regulatory issues can be a heavy burden on any small business. Small business owners and managers are already overwhelmed with expenses, finding labor and finding enough hours in the day to get the job done. If you are a meat packer or processor, you know firsthand how impactful updates to regulations can be. In today’s ever-changing environment, businesses need to stay current with legal, regulatory and market developments. Therefore, it is beneficial to have an industry association on your side to help navigate the regulatory highway in our industry.
As many of you know, the meat industry is one of the most regulated industries in the market, leaving packers and processors with an overload of regulatory burdens, labor issues and transportation concerns, just to name a few. In today’s climate it has never been more important to have your company’s voice heard. Having an industry association in your corner is a key component to keeping your business afloat. The Southwest Meat Association (SMA) is a vocal advocate for meat packers and processors. As a small packer or processor, you need a powerful and united voice at the federal level. Let SMA be your voice!
This September, after a two-year hiatus (thank you COVID), SMA and its members will be back on Capitol Hill. SMA organizes biannual trips to Washington, D.C., allowing members direct access to key lawmakers and regulators on both sides of the aisle. SMA has been fortunate in the past to visit with the White House Office of Public Liaison for Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service officials, House Committee on Agriculture staff, Senate Agriculture Committee staff, House Judiciary Committee staff, and numerous individual congressional offices from both sides of the aisle and both chambers of Congress.
SMA invites its members of all sizes to participate in our advocacy trips. No one delivers the message better than the firms impacted every day. SMA members continue to find tremendous value in these fly-in visits.
SMA Past Chairman Jason Beyer of ABF Packing in Dublin, Texas, said, “I have been participating on these trips for several years. It really makes a difference for our elected officials to hear from us firsthand about the challenges we face. I would strongly encourage all members to consider attending these trips, because I truly believe through continued efforts over time, we can effect positive change for our industry.”
Jonathan Pace, owner of Smokey Denmark Sausage Co. in Austin, Texas, said, “Being a part of the SMA trips to Washington, D.C., has allowed Smokey Denmark and small independent processors to have a voice in what is considered for industry food safety and governmental regulations. A good working relationship between government and industry is vital to the overall health of our food supply chain.”
I asked Senior Policy Advisor Philip Karsting of OFW Law how valuable advocacy in Washington, D.C., can be for packers and processors of all sizes. Philip said, “With midterm elections on the horizon (including potential changes in leadership of the House and Senate), SMA’s upcoming fly-in is especially important. Offices we regularly visit will benefit from a reintroduction to our industry and its priorities. New staff are likely to have myriad questions reflecting focus on supply chains, inflation, food security and other issues brought to the forefront during the pandemic. It’s incredibly valuable for these members and staff to hear firsthand from constituents about ‘real world’ challenges and concerns. Though our specific conversations may not immediately influence specific legislation of form fodder for official pronouncements, recurring and consistent familiarization with SMA’s priorities is likely to influence perspectives in subtle yet important ways.”
Therefore, it is vital that our nation’s leaders hear directly from establishments that are significantly affected every day by the actions of elected leaders and their counterparts in the agencies regulating our industry. SMA’s next advocacy trip will be Sept. 13-15, 2022. SMA encourages you to join us to see firsthand, and to assist in, the efforts being made to ensure Washington hears our message.