From ABA President & CEO Robb MacKie:
The ABA Board of Directors will have the privilege and pleasure of meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack during its June meeting, and the timing couldn’t be any better.
Typically, invitations to guest speakers for an ABA Convention or Board meeting are sent months ahead of the event and the invitation to Sec. Vilsack was no different. The lengthy list of issues we asked the secretary to address included commodity speculation, dietary guidelines, sodium, food safety, and wheat research. It seems that each week that we get closer to the meeting adds a new issue into the mix.
USDA has recently issued or has been a part of issuing higher import quotas for sugar, guidelines for food advertising to children, renewal of Conservation Reserve Program acres, and most recently the roll out of the food icon designed to replace the My Pyramid icon. Rumors abound that USDA is getting ready to formally respond to a petition from New York to limit soft drinks and some foods from the food stamp program. It is a very busy time, and if you pardon the pun, a very full plate.
The growing list of topics include a number of positive developments for bakers, including the dietary guidelines and new food icon, as well as a number of disturbing issues such as the new advertising guidelines and potentially the NY food stamp petition. Many of the issues will be more educational in nature. Suffice it to say, they all could have a significant impact on the baking industry.
At this rate we will now need a day or two to cover everything coming out of USDA. Obviously, we won’t have that luxury and that will make for a very stimulating discussion with Sec. Vilsack.