There were a lot of similarities between the two groups: members of both associations are the same type of companies, but the overlap of both processor members and supplier members is surprisingly very low.

The geography of the membership is complimentary; the majority of NMA members are in the western U.S., and NAMP members are mostly in the Midwest and Northeast, Canada and Mexico.

“The number one benefit of the consolidation is the exponential power we have to support the meat industry, with the synergies by bringing together two great staffs and programs,” Carpenter says. “This gives us the ability to give more assistance to more members on in-plant issues. It gives us a growth opportunity to spring ahead in representing the industry in Canada and Mexico, as well as in the U.S."

Kimball comments: “Barry and I have worked together for years now, and the NAMP and NMA staffs have worked together on regulatory issues, on co-sponsoring food safety events, and on any number of fronts. Each association has complementary strengths which, when combined, make NAMA the premier place for meat companies to go for help.”

NAMA will have members in 44 U.S. states, three Canadian provinces, Mexico, Australia, and Japan. It will have a larger “footprint”. It will have members in 80 percent of the congressional districts in the U.S.

“The consolidation means we have a stronger voice together,” says Saval. “The combined strength of the two already strong associations comes at a critical time for the industry. We needed to create stronger industry representation on regulatory, scientific and food safety issues.

“There are synergies in these tough economic times. The consolidation means members get more timely information on regulations and legislative issues. What the two associations were doing separately, now they do as one association and the members benefit from this cost-effective synergy.

“Our industry gets attacked on a variety of issues – obesity, ‘pink slime’, whatever. Now we have one voice instead of two separate voices. We as an association need to be a proactive voice to consumers, not a reactive voice. We need to show consumers what we are doing to create safe, legal foods.”

Vad agrees: “Given our industry and the political environment today, it’s an important move to strengthen our industry’s voice. My experience with NMA has strengthened my business and my own knowledge, and this consolidation will do the same for all of our members.”

Bob Jensen, former president of both organizations, and president of Jensen Meat Co. in Vista, CA, agrees: “I think this is a great opportunity to bring together two great associations that will benefit both the members and the industry. I feel this new association will give the industry the voice and direction that it needs as we continue to address the many challenges our industry faces in producing safe, high quality products.”

Read more on the merge at meatassociation.com.