I read this week an interesting article on The Packer, one of the leading magazines for the produce industry. Produce has been front and center or the upcoming legislation, the “enhanced food safety act HR.2749, passed” or “food safety modernization act s.510, pending“. As most of us sit out the time it needs in the legislative process to get something done, some associations take a lead.
I have seen and worked with a lot of associations, IDFA, IFT, NAMP, AMI, WGA, AAMP, NMA….the list is endless. Most associations function as an information hub: They take legislations, dumb them down for their members into understandable English and teach the related content. Members listen and absorb, voice their opinions and associations again take this voice to lobby for their members interests. Associations are information hubs in other senses as well, since they sometimes provide scientific expertise which smaller companies cannot really afford. In a nutshell, the association functions as a cooperative, its members finance certain information services, whether they are informational, educational or commercial like NAMP with their “Meat Buyers Guide”.
It seems though that some associations wake up. Information management has turned a long time ago to computerized systems. There is so much information that we cannot read, digest and process that information anymore without the help of computerized systems. Information management turns into knowledge management, it is no longer adequate to provide a website with prudent and self created content. Companies need and want solutions they can implement. They want solutions they can trust will fulfill today’s and future requirements whether they are legal or commercial. Especially the smaller companies cannot change their systems as quickly and don’t have the means to read and adapt to all these requirements as fast as the large organizations can.
It is natural that associations need to think about how they can make these requirements easier for their members, how they can enable them to adapt quicker. WGA is taking a lead, they have done so since their inception when they acted as a cooperative buyer for transportation services of its members. Now they reinvent themselves again, taking on a topic that is hard on their members, develop a solution for its members and give them the option to adapt it quick. Members can still decide to do their own stuff if they want to, but I think this would be counterproductive. Not only will members be able to adapt it quicker, they also will establish an industry standard, that legislation and market participants cannot ignore. Members will get more powerful via the association. Isn’t that the entire point?
Kudo’s WGA! You took the lead in something others need to follow.