An Opportunity Realized
Dear SFA Members,
Those of us who attended this year’s “Day in D.C. — Spring Summit” went away with a better understanding of the political process both through direct participation and by hearing from Washington insiders. Those who did not attend missed a fantastic opportunity.
SFA’s Day in D.C. provides an important occasion for association members to let their elected representatives in Washington know which issues are important to them, and how these issues will impact snack food companies. Those who think participation in the political process is not as critical in the current pro-business climate, should reconsider. It’s best to strike when the iron is hot!
Frivolous obesity lawsuits against food manufacturers and restaurants were among the vital issues that we addressed at this year’s summit, held May 16-18. Bills have been introduced in both the House (H.R. 554) and the Senate (S. 908) that would curb the types of lawsuits filed over the last three years claiming the plaintiff’s weight gain is the fault of those selling food. We explained to our elected representatives that although weight gain and obesity are serious problems facing many Americans, frivolous and costly lawsuits will not do anything to solve the problem.
Another important issue that we discussed at the summit was the National Uniformity for Food Act, which would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to create a uniform, national system that not only recognizes the role of state and local governments in the regulation of food products, but also integrates them into the national system. SFA supports this legislation since it would ensure that food labeling is consistent in all 50 states, not a patchwork of different
laws like the application of Proposition 65 to food in California.
A matter that is of particular concern to our industry is in the “Highway Bill,” as passed by the House on March 10. It has a section that requires shippers, carriers and intermediaries to pay fuel surcharges to the motor carriers they use. The language used would also open up nearly unlimited opportunities for lawsuits alleging underpayment of surcharges. At Day in D.C., we urged members of Congress to pass a highway bill that supports private enterprise and the free market and rejects government regulation of prices and interference in private contracting.
These are only some of the topics that Day in D.C. attendees discussed with their senators and congressmen. Others included our support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement and the fact that the advertising industry is committed to making self-regulation work without proscriptive federal legislation. To those who attended SFA’s Day in D.C., thank you for your support in helping us communicate the importance of these issues to Congress.
Your participation does make a difference! I urge you to pencil in Day in D.C. for next year. Also, you won’t want to miss this year’s Management Workshop, Oct. 23-25 in Indianapolis, Ind. A great program is planned.
Robert J. Shearer
SFA Chairman of the Board