This past week I attended the first meeting of a newly formed association, the North American Meat Association (NAMA), a consolidation of National Meat Association (NMA) and North American Meat Processors (NAMP). At this meeting, we were reminded that the purpose of an association can be found in the writings of the French citizen who travelled to what was then the newly independent America. His purpose was to observe, first hand, how this fledgling republic functioned as a democracy.   
North American Meat Assoc.

Travelling from town to town, this explorer was amazed by the willingness of the American citizens to travel long distances for the purpose of coming together with their fellow citizens to form associations. What was remarkable to him was that these associations had the right, for the first time, to petition their new government. This was unheard of! Up until then the government dictated to the people. The ruling government (or Royal Family) handed down all policies and laws; and such edicts were never contested. Moreover, there was the shared belief among all citizens and elected government officials that petitioning the government was not only their prerogative; it was their God-given right.

Thanks to those courageous pioneers, 200 years later, I’m allowed to be part of an organization with members from all across North America. Like those early Americans, we come together to share our knowledge with the goal of improving the lives of members, the lives of our employees and the advancement of our industry.

During our last meeting, we became aware that one of our members was closed down by the USDA due to operational issues. Our initial reaction was to exercise our rights to defend our members unconditionally, and to begin the process of petitioning the appropriate government officials. We then asked ourselves “Is this the right thing to do?”  Is this the responsible exercise of our right to petition?

The members of NAMA all wanted very much to find a way to help the member in need. We decided, as an association, that we could best support our member by offering our knowledge and expertise in aiding him to regain compliance to industry standards. This would restore his ability to operate to the satisfaction of the USDA. This decision strengthens our industry and the viability of every member in our association.

I’m proud to belong to a new association, that believes, as our forefathers did, that we have the God-given right to petition our governments, and also believes that it is important to do so only when it is the right thing to do