AMSA Goes To Washington, DC

May 13, 2015

AMSA Goes to Washington
Thomas Powell, Executive Director

In April, the AMSA Board of Directors held its spring meeting in Washington DC. The meeting afforded us the opportunity to interact with a number of allied associations as well as to speak directly with leadership at USDA. These conversations provided valuable background for ongoing policy issues facing the association. They also allowed us to shine a spotlight on key AMSA programs with decision makers whose policies affect our members. Following is a summary of these interactions.

Allied Associations

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA – www.beefusa.org)

NCBA served as the host for the AMSA Board meeting. We are thankful to their staff for their hospitality during the week. AMSA officers and staff met with NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Colin Woodall and Executive Director of Legislative Affairs Kristina Butts. Much of our conversation focused on the ongoing dietary guidelines issues as well as the animal welfare issues raised against the Meat Animal Research Center. They also shared with us some practical information on enabling our membership to interact with the federal policy and legislative processes.

North American Meat Institute (NAMI – www.meatinstitute.org)

AMSA officers and staff met with NAMI CEO Barry Carpenter, Foundation President Betsy Booren and Senior Vice President for Legislative Affairs Pete Thomson. NAMI is moving forward as a newly formed entity from the merger of the American Meat Institute and the North American Meat Association. We discussed the continuation of AMSA’s long partnership with the groups and interacted on current policy issues including research funding, dietary guidelines and animal welfare for production animal research.

National Renderer’s Association (NRA – www.renderers.org)

NRA’s Scientific Education and Communication Director Jessica Meisinger made a presentation highlighting the organization’s science education efforts. AMSA board members agreed that meat scientists, particularly students, need to be better acquainted with rendering industry.

Animal Agriculture Alliance (www.animalagalliance.org)

Ag Alliance President and CEO Kay Johnson Smith and Communications Director Hannah Thompson engaged the board in a discussion of communications policy highlighting the current issues swirling around consumers such as GMOs, animal welfare and nutrition. The Alliance is a very good source of current information and consumer communication pieces for anyone involved in food production. AMSA references a number of their resources in its ongoing interactions with members, the media and the public.

International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC – www.foodinsight.org)

IFIC President and CEO David B. Schmidt and Senior Director of Food Safety Tony Flood presented background on the organization’s programs and scope. IFIC’s mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, nutrition and food safety for the public good ties in closely with AMSA’s efforts to increase science literacy on meat production practices. The AMSA Board will be considering a formal partnership with IFIC at its upcoming meeting during the Reciprocal Meat Conference.


Research, Education and Economics

Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education & Economics, Bill Hoffman, Chief of Staff for NIFA, Steve Kappes, Deputy Administrator for Animal Production and Protection, ARS; and Caren Wilcox, Special Assistant to Dr. Woteki met with the entire AMSA Board. We introduced AMSA to the group and shared with them our ongoing research priority and student development work as well as our commitment to strong research funding for meat science research. Dr. Woteki was particularly interested in our work to keep the pipeline full of young scientists. AMSA’s research priorities program is likely to make an impact as well in the ongoing strategic planning of the agencies. We expressed our support for the ongoing work of the Meat Animal Research Center and received updates on the reports and working groups associated with the current investigations over animal welfare issues.

Food Safety & Inspection Service

Alfred Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety and Acting Administrator, David Golden, Assistant Administer for the Office of Public Health Science and John Johnston, Scientific Liaison met with the entire AMSA Board. We spent time reviewing the science policy work of the agency and were strongly encouraged by the interest in AMSA’s student programs. AMSA will be working to make students more aware of internship and career opportunities in the agency and will also continue partnering when we can help provide scientific resources for the group.

Agricultural Marketing Service

The board wrapped up its agency visits with Julie Henderson, Acting Associate Deputy Administrator of USDA AMS Livestock, Poultry and Seed Programs. We spent time familiarizing her with the history and mission of AMSA and reviewed the longstanding relationship between the agency and the association. We also revisited their Sustaining Partnership, recognizing the ongoing support for the meat judging program and providing additional information as they approach renewal time.

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