DES MOINES, IOWA – During the opening session of the American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) Convention on July 14, Dwight Ely, outgoing president of AAMP and owner of Ely Farm Products in Newtown, Pa., introduced, Gordon Davis, his former college mentor whom he credited for lighting a fire for his spirit in the meat industry. 

“I took a chunk of our cow pasture and built a small meat plant because of the inspiration of this man,” Ely said of Davis. 

After a heartfelt introduction, Davis entertained the morning crowd with stories about his early college days at Washington State University and Texas A&M University.

He then moved onto to his work at the University of Tennessee and Texas Tech where he became a teacher and won the first of many meat judging national championships in Lubbock.

In 1990, Davis decided to move into the private sector and started CEV Multimedia, which produced multimedia textbooks. 

The company, which is now iCEV, developed instructional materials and certification testing in Career & Technical Education (CTE) including several agriculture sectors including meat.

Davis and his wife Joyce made a $44 million donation earlier this year to Texas Tech to fund the agricultural college, the largest donation in school history. 

Paul Kiecker, administrator of the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), also spoke and summarized the agency’s position on various topics that affect small and very small meat processors around the United States.

He discussed the back and forth during the past few years, on the upcoming changes to Appendix A&B and how it worked with AAMP on those shifts with cooking and cooling. 

“We went back and took a look at that to make sure we were being as reasonable as possible and still considering what needs to be in place for food safety for the consumer,” Kiecker said of the requirements. “A lot of what we finalized was from small and very small processors.”

FSIS noted that it wanted processors to use the new guidelines before Dec. 14, 2022. 

Kiecker asked AAMP members to take advantage of the grant and loan programs overseen by the Agricultural Marketing Service and the USDA’s rural development programs. 

Later in his remarks, Kiecker stated that FSIS is taking a hard look at reducing cases of Salmonella attributed to poultry. 

“We are gathering information and data to revise our approach to controlling Salmonella through pilot projects, expanded sampling projects and through consultation with scientific experts and the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria of Foods,” Kiecker said.

Mike Naig, the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, welcomed attendees next with a few remarks about Des Moines. 

He also touted the bus tour held by AAMP that featured Iowa meat companies like Stanhope Locker & Market, Story City Locker, Dayton Meat Products, Ulrich Meat Market, and In’t Veld’s Meat Market.

“In Iowa, like many states, we’re very focused on how can we support our meat lockers or small and mid-sized meat processors as they look to expand and overcome workforce challenges in their operations to do even more, and try to grab even more of that market opportunity,” Naig said.