A merger of the two the nation’s largest meat industry organizations is one step closer to being Meat industry groups move toward mergerreality with a vote over the weekend by the board of directors of the North American Meat Association (NAMA) to approve a plan to merge with the American Meat Institute (AMI). If approved by AMI in April, the merger will be effective January 1, 2015.

Discussions of a potential merger began last September when a committee or representatives from each organization was formed to discuss how a new organization would function to serve its members.

NAMA was formed in 2012 when the North American Meat Processors Association and the National Meat Association consolidated. Currently, NAMA represents more than 600 companies in the United States, Canada and Mexico and provides advocacy, regulatory and educational services to its members.

NAMA Co-Presidents Tony Gahn, Jr., and Mike Hesse welcomed the vote saying the merger will “best serve” members and acknowledging that the “time has come for the industry to speak with one voice.”

Shortly after the vote, AMI publicly welcomed the vote. AMI Chairman Greg Benedict said in a news release that a merger would be the “right decision at the right time” for the industry.

AMI represents 95 percent of the red meat processors and 70 percent of turkey processers and their suppliers throughout the United States.

Barry Carpenter is CEO of NAMA. Since J. Patrick Boyle retired from AMI at the end of 2013, Jim Hodges has served as interim president and CEO of AMI.