Robert L. Madeira was the former executive director of the American Association of Meat processors (AAMP) . He spent more than 30 years running the Elizabeth, Pa.-based organization, which represents the nation’s smaller meat packers and processors. As the premier trade group for that industry segment — and the largest meat industry group in terms of membership numbers — AAMP under Madeira’s leadership grew into a large and successful service organization that also embraced dozens of well-organized state associations within its membership.
Madeira was most responsible for initiating changes to the USDA inspection system that allowed smaller companies to remain competitive and stay in business while converting to full-time processing from what was a dying food storage trade. Many AAMP members operated so-called “locker plants,” where customers paid to rent space for storage of large quantities of meat. As home freezers became commonplace, supermarket meat cases more extensive and average family sizes smaller, the need for large quantities of meat under frozen storage dwindled.
Madeira was “a great industry motivator and leader,” according to one nominator, someone who provided vital leadership at a time when the nation’s smallest meatpacking operations were virtually disappearing. He not only helped pave the way with USDA to help locker plant owners with to specialty meat processing, but gave AAMP the legacy of a strong voice in Washington, D.C., representing the thousands of small butcher shops and meat companies that had needs and challenges distinct from the bigger packers.