The North American Meat Institute (NAMI) is a new organization formed from the merger of the 108-year-old American Meat Institute (AMI) and the North American Meat Association (NAMA), with origins dating back to 1942. Food Safety News reports that the merger combines into one the two large meat industry organizations that have been that sector’s impact players on all issues, including food safety.
The two organizations announced the merger earlier this year after negotiations in 2013 were able to prepare both boards of directors for unanimous merger votes in 2014. The new North American Meat Institute has also started to make staffing announcements. NAMA’s Barry Carpenter, a former top USDA official, will be the new group’s president and chief executive officer.
Carpenter named Pete Thomson as vice president of legislative affairs. Thomson will join the new staff on Jan. 5, ending 31 years of Congressional experience. He will depart as the senior advisor for livestock issues to the House Agriculture Committee.
Food Safety News reports since announcing that their respective boards had voted for the merger, the two organizations have been careful to be on the same page. They reacted to the recent World Trade Organization (WTO) decision against U.S. policy on COOL with a joint statement in which they said the decision was no surprise.
“USDA’s mandatory COOL rule is not only onerous and burdensome on livestock producers and meat packers and processors, it does not bring the U.S. into compliance with its WTO obligations,” the two organizations stated. “By being out of compliance, the U.S. is subject to retaliation from Canada and Mexico that could cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars.”
The U.S. is now in the early stages of an appeal of that ruling, but the chances aren’t good that it will prevail after three previous WTO losses on the issue. Losing again would mean Canada and Mexico could get the green light for imposing tariffs on American exports on all sorts of things to make up for the losses in the meat trade.
That could give the new NAMI an opening to reduce or repeal the COOL law. In their earlier joint statement, the two groups said it was time to restore relationships with two of America’s largest and most important trading partners.