Celebrate the Victories!

By David Kaluzny II, Chairman, National Renderers Association

Editor’s Note – The following is a speech, in part, given by David Kaluzny II, Kaluzny Bros., Inc., at the National Renderers Association 74th Annual Convention in October.

Lest anyone forget, we are the original recyclers, the original green industry. We are the very definition of eco-friendly.

Renderers take millions of tons of waste material and turn it into valuable new raw ingredients for the making of thousands of products everyone in society needs every day. And I mean everyone! There is no one who is not touched every day by at least one of the products made from rendered materials.

And now, on top of that, renderers are providing the feedstock for part of America’s energy independence for the making of cleaner-burning biodiesel. However, this didn’t just all happen overnight.

Last year, I tried to take credit for a robust Dow over 12,000, a re-opening of the beef markets overseas, and the opening of rendered product markets abroad as well. So this year I thought I’d take credit for tallow and grease markets at all-time highs, meat and bone meal prices at over $250 a ton again, and the Dow over 13,500.

But seriously, a lot of factors came together this year to make the record tallow and grease markets happen. You, the National Renderers Association (NRA), and the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF) have for years built up the basis for this dramatic rise. Years (actually, over a decade) of research on biodiesel production using animal fats, years of lobbying to remain included in all energy-related legislation and programs, and years of research on the use of rendered fats and oils as boiler fuels have finally paid off.

Those who pushed for that seat at the table and fought to make sure we were included are to be recognized and thanked. Those who had the vision to vote for and commit the resources to biodiesel research at a time when the naysayers said it would never be economically feasible should be recognized as visionaries.

We all know that it takes planning and hard work to get real gains. This just proves it. Tallow and grease prices have entered a new era. We now have a floor on these markets in the form of the price of boiler fuel that we never had before.

The new markets for rendered products we’ve talked about for decades at FPRF have now arrived. They just arrived for rendered fats first in the form of boiler fuel and biodiesel feedstock. We are no longer a two outlet industry for fats: feed and oleochemical. We now have the energy market, too.

At 10-cent tallow prices, we lamented having no more places for the product to go. Now, at over 30-cent tallow prices, we lament not having more to sell to satisfy all that new demand.

Let’s look at protein. Last year, $250 per ton meat and bone meal was a long way off. Today, it’s here. Why? For one, more exports! (Can you say IMDC [International Market Development Committee]?)

Another reason, greater aquaculture usage! (Can you say FPRF?) And finally, delayed and stalled new feed rules. (Can you say NRA?)

The rendering industry is back into old markets and opening up new ones. We’re seeing far greater aquaculture usage as the alternative, fish meal, prices skyrocketed because we have research results to show that rendered proteins work here.

We have meat and bone meal, feather meal, poultry by-product meal, and blood meal all going into aquaculture. And all this time the industry has continued its dialog with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the proposed, but totally unwarranted, indefensible, changes to the feed rule.

Most recently the NRA held discussions with Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and his staff, one of whom is now the acting secretary, Chuck Conner, to demonstrate to them how an FDA monkey in the form of changes to the feed rule would, overnight, morph into an 800-pound gorilla for the USDA, causing nationwide dead animal disposal issues and economic hardships for everyone from the dairy industry to the livestock industry.

All of the aforementioned happened because renderers recognized the value of an association and the need to come together and stay together to tell the industry’s story, to be at the table, to make the formerly invisible the visible, to make the original recyclers known as the eco-friendliest and greenest industry on God’s green Earth.

Yes, it is essential to rendering to come together for the common good of the industry. But we still face challenges and obstacles to overcome like spill prevention rules, toxic chemical rules, and the uninformed do-gooders pestering the FDA.

But, let us not forget to celebrate the victories – the years of planning, research, and groundwork that have led to a great deal to be thankful for and happy about. We spent too many years being beaten up by regulators, markets, competitors to our products, and economic issues not to rejoice.

Hey, it’s our turn! And it can be our turn for a long time if we want it to be and we continue to work for it. This is not a game of craps where we have to pass the dice. No, it’s our turn and we should keep them!

We have a right to celebrate and be proud of our accomplishments! Remember, we’ve earned it!

And thank you very much; it has been my pleasure to serve as NRA chairman for the past two years.

From the Association – December 2007 RENDER | back