Collaborating Under One Roof

By Tom Cook, President, National Renderers Association

The North American rendering industry is united as the recognized essential service provider for safe, science-based processing of animal and food by-products. This is a pretty simple and obvious statement.

In 2004, the leadership of the National Renderers Association (NRA), Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF), and Animal Protein Producers Industry (APPI) met to develop a collective strategic plan for the industry. At the time, these were three distinct industry organizations with specific responsibilities essentially led and financed by the same group of members. The outcome of the meeting was three mission statements, one for each organization, and a collective goal to strengthen and unify organizations in the rendering industry, including the option of consolidating into one group. Since that meeting, APPI has become a standing independent committee of NRA and NRA is now managing FPRF under the direction of its leadership. All the functions of these organizations are now headquartered in one office in Alexandria, VA.

NRA continues to be an alliance that speaks with a collective voice representing the best interests of its members in public government and regulatory affairs, and providing services, programs, and technical support to the North American rendering industry both in domestic and international markets. NRA’s APPI Committee continues to be the biosecurity arm of the North American rendering industry through its dedication to the administration and maintenance of innovative programs, testing for quality of animal proteins and feed fats, continuing education and training, and collaborative research. The purpose of FPRF is to direct and manage the process whereby research is initiated, prioritized, approved, conducted, funded, and results disseminated on any issues relating to the rendering industry, and to collaborate with other institutions that have similar goals.

That January 2004 meeting in Dallas, TX, might have been one of the most productive meetings in recent times for the North American rendering industry and the results are evident. There is a certain synergy putting everyone under one roof. In addition, recent changes between FPRF and NRA have brought more efficiency with shared personnel. All three groups continue to hold annual and spring meetings together, providing savings to the organizations and its members who can conduct business for the entire industry in a single trip.

The industry has also changed in the last 10 years with the continued consolidation of renderers. The current organizational structure is better suited to meet the needs of a changing industry. With this said, almost 10 years is probably long enough without looking at the industry and updating the strategic plan.

It was mentioned earlier that all organizations are headquartered in Alexandria, VA. The organizations recently moved about three blocks from their previous location into a new office designed for future needs. The office is smaller, but there was opportunity to build out and utilize the space more efficiently. Another benefit is the rent is reduced considerably, saving the association much needed funds.

However, the industry continues to face many of the same issues. In the February 2013 issue of Render, this column reported on a potential free trade agreement with the European Union. NRA was told that among certain issues contingent on proceeding with talks was resolving a tallow issue for biodiesel into the European Union. This was thought to be a “no brainer.” Well, with trade negotiations, even simple matters can become complicated. No longer is this issue a no-brainer; however, United States trade negotiators have worked very hard on the rendering industry’s behalf.

The industry is still waiting for the Food and Drug Administration to publish its long-overdue regulations under the Food Safety Modernization Act. Most people believe the administration is holding them up because of the high price tag that is expected to come with the new regulations. On the other hand, it looks like the United States will likely get a farm bill this year. Both the House of Representatives and Senate are moving on their respective versions, but there is general agreement that a farm bill will emerge.

This year’s NRA Washington Fly-in will be June 17-19, 2013. NRA members will visit many congressional offices over two days carrying the renderers’ story to members and staff. This is always an important activity for the rendering industry.

The fly-in is an investment for the industry. It is always beneficial to spread our story as broadly as possible. Considering most of the people visited will have little or no knowledge about rendering, our story will be told many times after these visits.

June 2013 RENDER | back