SAN ANTONIO — The Southwest Meat Association’s (SMA) 68th annual Convention and Suppliers Showcase will occur July 24-27 at Kalahari Resort in Round Rock, Texas.

The association’s annual convention will feature speakers and educational sessions that will inform and educate meat and poultry industry stakeholders. 

Following the annual golf outing, SMA will hold general sessions featuring the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. This face-to-face conversation will allow SMA members and attendees to address questions directly with regulators. 

Scheduled USDA and FSIS personnel in attendance include:

  • Dr. Emilio Esteban – Undersecretary for Food Safety
  • Paul Kiecker – FSIS Administrator
  • Rachel Edelstein – Assistant Administrator, FSIS Office of Policy and Program Development
  • Jeff Canavan – Deputy Director, Labeling and Program Delivery, FSIS Office of Policy and Program Development
  • Dr. Hany Sidrak – Deputy Assistant Administrator, FSIS Office of Field Operations
  • Derek Jones, USDA Rural Development (Will be presenting virtually)
  • Darrell Dowd, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service

On July 26, SMA will host the “Best of the Wurst” family luncheon featuring unique sausage varieties from 10 member companies. 

Following the luncheon, SMA will host a three-hour exhibition for attendees to browse products and services from leading suppliers in the meat industry. The association said 85 exhibiting companies will showcase equipment, seasonings and spices, sanitation and chemicals, labeling services, ingredients, packaging suppliers, laboratory services, casings and financial services.

After the exhibition hours end, SMA will hold its annual dinner and auction, which will feature a Kentucky Derby theme. The proceeds will benefit SMA Foundation Scholarships.

Then, on July 27, general sessions will begin with Emily Ellis, manager of communications and content for the Animal Agriculture Alliance. She will discuss the current state of anti-animal agriculture activism and how to minimize its effects on the industry. 

Another session will feature David Barron of Cozen O’Connor who will discuss concerns surrounding labor and workplace issues that affect all size meat businesses. Next David Anderson, PhD, plans to lay out the industry’s meat and poultry commodity outlook. Many universities will also give department updates including Angelo State, Prairie View A&M, Sam Houston State, Tarleton State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and West Texas A&M.

On the last night, SMA will hold its Chairman’s Dinner and Dance, where 50 students at various levels of their collegiate careers will be awarded $159,000 in scholarships. The association said it has awarded more than $1.2 million in scholarships since 2000.

For more information on the 2024 event, visit SMA’s website.