Rendering and Politics: NRA’s Yearly Fly-in

By Nancy Foster, President, National Renderers Association

Politics is in the air with national elections in the United States (US) just six months away. Regardless of your position on the candidates, one of the strengths of the US democracy is the right to free speech. Another is to vote. This election year has been full of surprises so far and US presidential candidates are still vying for their party’s nomination.

Early on, pundits predicted businessman Donald Trump and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders would falter. Those same pundits were also confident the party faithful would support traditional Republicans and Democrats. However, the appeal of “shaking things up” by these outsider candidates has led both men to go much farther than originally expected. Fueling this political upheaval against the system is a combination of deep anger against politics as usual, a bickering Congress and their lack of accomplishment, and frustration about the direction and standing of America. The pundits were wrong and the people are speaking.

Those who represent Americans in Washington, DC, in states, and in communities, should take this year to genuinely listen and lead. They can lead by making the hard, but right, decisions and not compromising for political favors or backtracking. They can also be authentic and responsive to those they serve while being respectful and inclusive when others disagree. Perhaps this could be a year when things start turning around. Renderers can also do their part to be heard and counted during this unpredictable year.

The National Renderers Association’s (NRA) Annual Washington Fly-in gives renderers a personal voice with their members of Congress and an inside look at issues affecting their business. Government decisions directly impact rendering operations, from animal disease outbreaks to environmental regulations to the new Food Safety Modernization Act.

To keep rendering “top of mind” for policymakers deciding a host of important issues, NRA members travel to the nation’s capital every June to meet with their representatives and senators. The fly-in is hosted by NRA’s Legislative Committee, chaired by Dave Kaluzny of Kaluzny Bros. Inc.

This year’s fly-in is June 13-15. NRA members will visit congressional offices to carry their story to Congress members and staff. The top rendering issues for congressional meetings will be identified at the NRA Spring Meeting in April.

“We can no longer afford to be invisible,” urged Kaluzny. “As a wise man once said, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’” Out of sight can mean perilously out of mind.

An issues briefing will kick off this year’s fly-in. Top speakers will talk about the outlook for livestock, poultry, and grain/feed markets domestically and overseas, food safety, challenges to managing animal disease, and other major issues facing the rendering industry. There will be plenty of opportunities for interaction and questions.

Before their congressional meetings, fly-in participants will hear about rendering issues from NRA’s lobbying team during dinner on Capitol Hill. At breakfast the next day, a Capitol Hill speaker will provide a congressional update with insights into the latest happenings. All attendees also receive full briefing information before the fly-in to be ready for their congressional meetings.

According to Jim Andreoli Jr., co-president of Baker Commodities, his company’s congressional members now better “understand the importance of rendering” after fly-in meetings. “They’re also interested in biofuels tax credits and common-sense implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Andreoli added.

“The fly-in gives you an opportunity to get a feel for how the system works in Congress,” said Ken Gilmurray, JBS. “There are fewer companies now and we all compete, but in the end we only have each other. Coming to the fly-in is a joint venture to promote rendering as a whole and showcase the positives of what we do. We must try to prevent ourselves from being over-legislated and over-regulated.”

NRA considers the fly-In as an investment for the industry. Educating and spreading rendering’s story as broadly as possible is always beneficial. Waiting until important decisions are being made can be too late, often with bad results. In addition, many people visited in Washington, DC, will have little or no knowledge about rendering. Our story will get told many times over after these visits.

The fly-in, along with NRA’s on-the-ground advocacy in Washington, DC, helps achieve the association’s goal to promote and defend the rendering industry’s interests to national legislators and regulators. Advocacy is a top priority in NRA’s new 2020 Strategic Plan adopted by the board of directors last year. Promoting effective public policy, regulation, and technology (among other initiatives) is important to accomplish NRA’s mission of advocating for a sustainable food chain, public health, and environment through the production and marketing of rendered products and services.

Renderers may hold different political views, but they can unite to educate elected officials about what they do and the industry’s contributions to agriculture, their communities, and the environment. This is vital to the continued success of the rendering industry. When renderers tell their own story, it is compelling and helps to protect the integrity of the industry for the future. As an NRA member, I hope you will attend this year’s fly-in in June to speak up and be heard.

For information, contact Barbara Alexander or call (703) 683-0155.

April 2016 RENDER | back