USDAS Secretary To Highlight ‘Day in D.C.’
The Snack Food Association’s Day in D.C. Spring Summit will feature United States Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns and a special executive briefing at the White House by members of the President’s senior staff. Highlights of the three-day conference also will include one-on-one meetings with members of the House and Senate and their key staff.
“Our Day in D.C. Spring Summit is shaping up as a huge opportunity for SFA members to get updated on the important issues that directly affect their businesses and our industry,” SFA President Jim McCarthy said. “Members who attend will have an opportunity to let those in power know just how their decisions affect not only their businesses, but the livelihoods of their constituents whom our members employ.”
The conference will be held May 16-18 at the Sofitel Lafayette Square Hotel in downtown Washington D.C.
Johanns and Deputy Under Secretary for Food & Nutrition Policy Kate Coler will address SFA members on Wednesday, May 17, at U.S. Department of Agriculture headquarters, updating SFA members on important agriculture department policy developments, including issues involving nutrition and regulation.
Following that session, Day in D.C. participants will visit with members of the House and Senate in their offices on Capitol Hill, where they will have an opportunity to discuss several key issues, including the National Uniformity of Food Act – HR 4157, Personal Responsibility for the Consumption of Food Act – HR 55, and Country of Origin Labeling for Snack Peanuts.
On Thursday, May 18, a special executive briefing with top-level White House staff members will take place in the Old Executive Office Building, where most White House staffers have their offices. While details still are being finalized, the briefing has been confirmed by the White House.
A reception “inaugurating” SFA’s new offices in Arlington, Va., will be held on the evening of May 17. Important SFA committee meetings will be held on Tuesday, May 16, and on the mornings of May 17 and 18.
“We are delighted that Secretary Johanns and Under Secretary Coler will be speaking to us during the Day in D.C. meeting, and that our members will have an opportunity to hear from top insiders at the White House,” McCarthy said. “But just as important will be our meetings on Capitol Hill, where members will have an opportunity to discuss several important issues of concern.”
Three key legislative issues will be priorities for the Summit:
National Uniformity of Food Act – HR 4157: Under the current system, food regulation is composed of a variety of different and sometimes inconsistent requirements. For example, California’s Attorney General sued four snack companies last year for failure to post California’s Proposition 65 warning on their potato chip packages due to the existence of acrylamide in foods. Federal law does not require such labeling. This legislation amends the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act to create a uniform, national system that not only recognizes the role that state and local governments play in the regulation of food products, but also integrates them into a national system.
Personal Responsibility for the Consumption of Food Act – HR 554: This bill would protect manufacturers, distributors and sellers of food products that comply with the applicable statutory or regulatory requirements from frivolous lawsuits brought by consumers who theorize that the food made them obese and, as a result, they have suffered health problems. This bill, also known as the “Cheeseburger Bill,” has passed the House of Representatives and is pending before the Senate. It is important to pass this bill in order to stop suits that are being brought against restaurants and food companies alike.
Country of Origin Labeling for Snack Peanuts: While SFA worked to get a two-year delay in the requirement that snack peanuts be labeled as to their country of origin, it is important to continue to make the case with Congress and the administration that snack peanuts have been unfairly singled out for this form of labeling. The law requires that only unprocessed foods be listed under COOL. SFA continues to make the case that snack peanuts are processed in their shelling and roasting process. This labeling would be very costly to peanut snack products and mixtures that contain snack peanuts.
In addition, the agenda will include Business Member and Associate Member Summits and a special Day in D.C. lunch on Wednesday, May 17.
For more information or to register, contact Liz Wells at 1-703-836-4500 or 1-800-828-1334, ext. 202.