Last week, ABA led a notable three-day baking industry event for ABA members in the nation’s capital. ABA gathered its members for one of the largest Food Technical Regulatory Affairs Committee (FTRAC) meetings to date; co-hosted, with 24 Food and Beverage Issue Alliance (FBIA) members, the second annual Congressional Reception; and advocated on Capitol Hill to effect impactful baking and food industry policy priorities during an inaugural FBIA Fly-In.
Two significant points emerged from the FTRAC meeting:
- First, FTRAC members agreed that additional outreach efforts are needed with FDA to gain regulatory clarity on pending fiber definition guidance. FTRAC agreed to develop a new tool to assist members in voicing hurdles to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The delay on final guidance for the new fiber definition has been frustrating as ABA members seek to move forward with nutrition facts labeling revisions.
- Second, though current draft Listeria Monocytogenes (LM) Guidance is non-binding, an FDA official, who spoke at the meeting, urged bakers to strive for a rigorous environmental monitoring program with good recordkeeping and sanitation procedures. Though FDA’s inspectors indicated that the policy is not yet enforceable, FDA will ask companies if they are aware of the guidance and how they will implement it.
On February 6, FBIA and ABA members congregated on Capitol Hill to educate members of Congress and their staffs on how food and agriculture is “Feeding the Economy” at the second annual FBIA Congressional Reception. The combined food and ag sectors comprise more than one-fifth of the nation’s economic activity with the statistical facts below.
The economic impact of the food and ag sector, including suppliers and induced activity, totals a whopping $6.7 trillion. Ensuring that elected officials are well-versed in this information is crucial for key policy development and decisions.
To cap out the successful series of events, on February 7, FBIA, of which ABA is a co-chair, held its inaugural fly-in on Capitol Hill, representing a wide swath of food industry organizations,* advocating to congressional members and their staffs for beneficial industry policy.
The advocacy meetings focused on educating key influencers about the new resource that illustrates the impact of the ag and food industry on the U.S. economy: www.FeedingTheEconomy.com, FBIA’s strong support for a modernized NAFTA – to support and grow the economy and support American jobs., and support for opportunities for FBIA to be a resource in voicing stakeholder issues as part of the broader regulatory reform efforts. Policy influencers were encouraged to call on the FBIA members as a resource for both questions and hearing witnesses when holding oversight hearings. ABA members and others provided concrete examples of how regulatory clarity is needed for the nutrition facts label implementation extension date and the new fiber definition – both of which were covered at the FTRAC meeting.
The group met with:
- Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2)
- House Agriculture Appropriations Staff
- House Agriculture Committee Staff
- Ranking Agriculture Committee Member Colin Peterson (D-MN-7)
- Glenn Thompson (R-PA-7) – Chair of the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee
* Organizations that participated in the FBIA Fly-In included:
- American Frozen Food Institute
- Food Marketing Institute
- Corn Refiners Association
- Grocery Manufacturers’ Association
- SNAC International
- North American Millers’ Association
- National Automatic Merchandising Association
- Can Manufacturers Institute
- American Beverage Association
- Peanut and Tree Nut Processors Association
- ABA members – Flowers Foods, Red Star Yeast, Ardent Mills and Delavau Food Partners