KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Since April 1, 1990, J. Patrick Boyle has served as the president and CEO of the American Meat Institute. This past July, Boyle announced he would be stepping away from his role, which saw him lead AMI during an era of unprecedented challenges requiring the implementation of sweeping changes for the meat and poultry industry. In an exclusive interview with Meat&Poultry, Boyle describes his upbringing and education, as well as his early influences and jobs in Washington, DC, before taking the torch at AMI nearly 24 years ago. A feature story based on the interview with Boyle will be published in the October issue of Meat&Poultry (available digitally this week on www.meatpoultry.com).

During Boyle’s tenure, the range of issues and challenges faced by AMI members and its leader were as diverse as its member companies, which now constitute about 95 percent of the meat and poultry processors in the US. Boyle’s leadership has been characterized by a professional unflappability and laser focus on protecting those interests passionately.

In his post-AMI life, the experiences of the past two-and-a-half decades will likely serve him well as he considers what might be next for him.

“Near term, I’ll probably take a short break,” he says, “but I’m not 60 years old yet, so I think I’ll find some other things to do.”

A Notre Dame graduate who went on to earn his law degree, Boyle says he hasn’t ruled out going to work with a Washington-area law firm. Doing some adjunct teaching at one of the many universities in the DC area is another possibility. In the meantime, he plans to dust off his golf clubs and get to work on his swing.
One highlight of the story was Boyle’s recollection of his appearance on the “Colbert Report” this past year. During the memorable appearance, host Stephen Colbert baited and mocked Boyle, who was a game guest and whose three-hour interview was reduced to a minutes-long segment.

“I think that was the toughest interview I’ve ever done,” says Boyle of the exchange that devolved at one point to a discussion of Boyle’s views on cannibalism. He holds no grudges in the aftermath of the interview. In fact, Boyle says he regularly tunes in to watch Colbert’s show and enjoys it. “Sometimes you have to take chances,” he says.

Not long after Boyle’s announced retirement, officials from AMI and the North American Meat Association announced the two sides would be considering a merger in the coming months, which Boyle also supports. With a number of trade associations advocating for many of the same issues for an industry of overlapping members, he says it only makes sense.

“There are too many Patrick Boyles out there,” he jokes, all with a common goal of representing the rights of the meat and poultry processing industry. The AMI search committee tasked with hiring Boyle’s replacement has since morphed into a merger committee to determine the feasibility of the partnership, which would preclude the need to appoint another CEO and president of AMI.

Whether he goes down in history as AMI’s longest-standing and final leader or not, J. Patrick Boyle is gratified that the organization is well equipped for the future.

“From the time I arrived until the time I walk out early next year, I have always viewed my position as a stewardship role and one that should be measured by maintaining the stature and the respect I found when I arrived at AMI,” Boyle says. “I believe that at a minimum, the same respect and stature remains in place two-and-a-half decades later.”