ALEXANDRIA, VA. — The North American Renderers Association (NARA) announced that J.J. Smith has received the 2023 Don Franco Distinguished Service Award for his longtime leadership and commitment to NARA, as well as the entire rendering industry. Smith was presented the award during NARA’s 2023 Annual Convention in Naples, Fla.

The Don Franco Distinguished Service Award is the association’s highest honor and seeks to recognize “truly outstanding work” on behalf of the rendering industry in areas of science, policy, marketing or communications.

Smith was selected for the award based on his decades of service to the rendering industry. In 2003, he was named president of Valley Proteins, where he served as an influential leader in NARA and the Fats and Proteins Research Foundation (FPRF). According to NARA, Smith’s dedication to the FPRF has been robust, with him donating time and money to the foundation.

Additionally, Smith was one of the early proponents of founding The Animal Co-Products Research & Education Center (ACREC), a project with Clemson University that helps establish new market opportunities for the rendering industry through research funding.

“J.J.’s efforts over the last few decades have helped shape the rendering industry,” said Kent Swisher, president and chief executive officer of NARA and FPRF. “His approach, demeanor, and accomplishments more than merit this recognition and award.”

Smith has also held various volunteer positions within NARA and FPRF from 1996 to his retirement in 2022, including as FPRF chairman from 2009 to 2011 and NARA chairman from 2011 to 2013. He assisted the organization during various threats and served as a major asset to the communities with  which he was involved and chaired.

“I am very honored to be selected for the 2023 Don Franco Award by my many long-time friends in the rendering industry,” Smith said. “Seeing my name along with Dr. Don Franco’s on the same plaque is humbling since he was a close friend to me and all renderers for an entire generation, and a man who contributed greatly to our industry. I immensely enjoyed the entire 37 years I worked with and, at times led, the North American Renderers Association, the FPRF, The Animal Proteins Producers Industry (APPI), and the ACREC.”

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