Along with wrapping up the loose ends of 2009, this time of year usually means thinking about the next year. What will 2010 bring? Will the economy strengthen enough to see consumers heading back to the restaurants like they did a few years ago? Will a large-scale recall or animal abuse case give the industry another black eye? Will we get a leader in the FSIS who can start making much-needed changes to food safety and inspection systems in the country?

One certainty for next year is that it will be increasingly harder for an independent processor to survive without a little assistance. There are too many rules and regulations to follow, too many processing tips and tricks to learn, too many industry changes to keep up with. We’re all wearing more hats than ever, but there is a limit to one a person can do.

From our first issue, The Independent Processor has partnered with several excellent trade associations that exist to support and assist their member companies. They provide regulatory expertise and assistance members with questions or inspection issues. They help fight for the industry in Washington. Based on the events I’ve attended, their conventions and conferences provide plenty of opportunities for networking and information exchange.

Following is just a few of the events scheduled for 2010. I would strongly encourage you to attend at least one of these events. Whether it’s through attending a seminar or talking with a fellow processor, you might find a solution to a critical issue and make your company even more successful.

Have a wonderful holiday season, and we’ll see you in 2010.

American Association of Meat Processors Convention: July 15-17, 2010, Hyatt Regency Crown Center, Kansas City, Mo.
North American Meat Processors Association Management Conference: March 19-21, 2010, The Drake Hotel, Chicago, Ill.
National Meat Association 64th Convention: February 10-13, 2010, Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, Indian Wells, Calif.
Southeastern Meat Association Convention: June 11-12, 2010, Brasstown Valley Resort, Young Harris, Ga.
Southwest Meat Association Convention: July 21-24, 2010, Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, Bastrop, Texas