From ABA President & CEO Robb MacKie:
The beginning of the Chinese New Year happened to coincide with the recent mid-year ABA Executive Committee meeting. Each January, the ABA Executive Committee travels to Washington to work with the ABA team to recalibrate policy priorities, review ongoing projects and assess the budget performance. Many of the executive committee members came in thinking that the TV commentators were on target with their assessments that “not much is going to get done” in this election year. On the legislative front, sadly they are correct. However, on the regulatory front nothing could be further from the truth.
The ABA team engaged in a freewheeling dialogue around the regulatory agenda facing the baking industry. A daunting list of more than 300 regulatory proposals could impact the baking industry. Many would have an incidental impact, and ABA is merely watching. However, at least 30 to 40 would have a significant impact including at least six substantive food safety proposals in the aftermath of the Food Safety Modernization Act alone. FDA also is pushing a major rewrite of the nutrition facts panel in addition to continuing to explore so-called front of pack labeling. The last major change to impact the industry’s packaging – labeling of trans fat – cost the industry over $100 million. One can only imagine what a massive overhaul of both the nutrition facts panel and front of pack will cost the industry.
Not to be outdone, a number of other regulatory agencies have aggressive agendas for 2012. These range from EPA, OSHA, and NLRB to HHS and the SEC. The common thread through all of these proposed new rules is the depth and complexity to which they could impact bakers and the broader business community.
Given the complexity of the regulatory proposals it will be critically important for ABA members to stay on top of and actively engage in ABA’s advocacy efforts. ABA has a highly competent but lean team of internal and external consultants that provide a high level of credibility when addressing these issues. What ABA will require most in the coming months is the expertise of its member company staff. The vast array of regulatory proposals will impact different bakers in myriad ways depending on products, customers and size.
For ABA to effectively hold the regulatory dragon at bay, it will require the combined muscle and smarts of its members. I urge every ABA member to heed our call for input and engagement.