Current congressional and regulatory agendas address a number of issues that could affect the poultry industry. From avian influenza (AI) and immigration to food safety and environmental laws, there has never been a better time for poultry industry representatives to work with their legislators and regulators to make sure our voice is heard in Washington.

These grassroots efforts promote the importance of the NTF Leadership Conference, when turkey industry executives converge on the Nation’s Capital to meet face-to-face with policy and lawmakers.

The premiere event of the Leadership Conference is visits to Capitol Hill, when NTF members can discuss turkey industry issues with their elected officials. These visits are the perfect time to talk about verification and “guest-worker provisions” to the immigration reform bill (assuming, of course, the legislation has not become law by July). There is no better opportunity for grassroots efforts to educate legislators on how proposed bills might impact the industry.

NTF’s seventh annual NTF Leadership Conference will convene on July 10 and conclude on July 12. Most activities will take place at the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel in Washington.

Another key component to the conference is the annual regulator’s dinner. This dinner provides an informal setting for participants to meet with regulators from various agencies, such as USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) or Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). FSIS representatives might hear from the turkey industry about the proposed rule on the reduction of salmonella in poultry products. While the intent is warranted to move the inspection system toward the next phase, this has created concern among the poultry industry because the proposal doesn’t look at all useful data, including relative risk or the intended use of the product. Representatives from APHIS would hear from the industry about the agency’s interim plan in the event of detection of high-path AI. This would include gaps in surveillance, response or communication plans.

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House Majority Whip Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has been invited to present the keynote address. Blunt is a strong supporter of a bill that would make it clear that neither the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), or the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) apply to discharges from poultry and livestock operations. This topic is likely to be one of the issues discussed during congressional appointments scheduled throughout the conference.

One special seminar will look at new technologies in pathogen reduction. As FSIS steps up the pace on tackling the incidence of salmonella in the poultry industry, the turkey industry wants to address new strategies to lower the incidence of pathogens. The seminar will help NTF members stay abreast of the new and emerging technologies designed to reeducate us on naturally occurring pathogens.

For the first time, NTF will offer media training on Sunday, July 9, prior to the Leadership Conference. This interactive session will provide participants the techniques needed to meet with their legislators, regulators and, even the media. Whatever the issues are that need to be lobbied, this session will provide key verbal and visual messages that will resonate with the target audience.

The conference will conclude with the 14th annual congressional reception and turkey luncheon, allowing informal interaction with elected officials and congressional staff.

For more information about the NTF Leadership Conference, contact NTF’s Manager of Membership and Convention Services, Brie Wilson (Phone (202) 898-0100, ext. 229, or E-mail bwilson@turkeyfed.org).