AMI Plays a Crucial Role in Representing the Industry

By Gary Ray, Executive Vice President, Hormel Foods

Hormel Foods has a long and proud history of working with the American Meat Institute (AMI). Two of our former chief executive officers, Richard L. Knowlton and Joel W. Johnson, have served as chairmen of the AMI. To continue this involvement, Jeffrey M. Ettinger, our current chairman of the board, president and CEO, serves as the 2006-2007 secretary.
Personally, I have been involved in AMI for more than 25 years and have served on several different committees, including a stint as head of the inspection committee for four years in the early 1990s. Recently I was honored to serve as co-chair for the AMI Annual Meat Conference.
Our longstanding partnership with AMI also involves actively encouraging our people to be involved in AMI and to participate on committees relating to their jobs, such as food safety, animal health and welfare, and workforce safety.
We are thankful our employees are contributing to the industry through this involvement as well as benefiting substantially from the knowledge available through the depth and breadth of AMI’s subject matter offerings.
Hormel Foods, like other food companies, is committed to this kind of broad-based support for AMI because of the critical role that AMI plays in both speaking for the industry on major issues and in advancing innovation.
I cannot understate the importance of AMI’s commitment to represent members as the spokesperson for food safety in Washington, D.C. AMI is a strong organization, starting at the top with its leader, Pat Boyle, and continuing on down to the terrific AMI staff. The group offers great insights on how to communicate industry opinions to legislators, serves as a great resource for scientific information and communicates pertinent, accurate information to the public.
We believe this group is the most effective in communicating the issues facing the meat industry, and I know numerous other companies share this belief. When major issues have surfaced for the food industry, such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), avian influenza or Listeria, the AMI Foundation has helped the industry by funding scientific research with universities and researchers.
Another important attribute of AMI is its ability to advance new technology and innovation    with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This ability has helped members advance these new technologies to ensure our food safety is second to none — no matter what the protein.
Broadly speaking, AMI also has facilitated a major breakthrough in the meat industry by providing an ongoing forum for companies to share ideas and best practices on food safety. Through AMI, Hormel Foods has been able to discuss issues with our competitors and collectively strengthen the industry’s approach to food safety as well as strengthen the membership of the AMI.
And finally, AMI has played an invaluable marketing role. Due to its name and reputation with government agencies in Washington, AMI has assisted in promoting products worldwide, which helps greatly in developing international markets to supply our proteins to different countries.
No one company could face industry issues alone; that is why AMI is so important to its members, and that’s why we actively support this important organization.