To Get Results, You Must Participate

There was a crusty old editor in western Pennsylvania who on every election day wrote a one-line editorial: “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”
It was a classic statement that also could have read: “To get results, you have to participate.”
Next month, Snack Food Association members will have an opportunity to participate in the political process, to go directly to the men and women who make decisions and tell them what they think about important issues that could directly affect their businesses and their livelihoods — and that of their employees.
Now, I can’t guarantee 100% success by participating in SFA’s Day in D.C. Spring Summit, May 16-18, in Washington D.C. But I can guarantee that if we don’t act, if we stay silent, if we let others do the talking, we will NOT get the results that we all want. And that will be our own fault.
Through my years of working in Washington on behalf of the food industry, I have seen over and over again the results of participation, of involvement. And I have seen the results of inaction, as well. They are lessons learned, ones from which we must benefit.
SFA’s Day in D.C. offers all our members a chance to meet with top members of the White House staff — direct representatives of the President of the United States —during an executive briefing.
It offers an opportunity to hear from and, in all likelihood, ask questions of the Secretary of Agriculture and the Deputy Under Secretary for Food & Nutrition Policy, both of whom will address our group.
And it will give our members the very important opportunity to meet face-to-face with their Representatives and Senators on Capitol Hill, to discuss key concerns with them on their own turf.
Yes, our Day in D.C. Spring Summit also will include several important committee meetings, and we will welcome members to our new offices in Arlington, Va., just a few minutes from downtown Washington D.C.
But the most important part of this entire exercise is involvement and participation.
We are providing our members with an opportunity to speak directly with those men and women in Washington D.C. who make decisions every day — decisions with which we must live once they are enacted into law or written into government regulations.
We complain about politicians who are unreachable or “faceless” bureaucrats. I can tell you that our Congressmen and Senators are reachable, and this is one way to do that. I also can tell you that bureaucrats and government officials will listen and consider — but you have to make the effort.
Do you want every state to be able to enact its own special laws on food labeling and safety? Or should there be sense and reason brought to the process through National Uniformity legislation?
Should we enact legislation to stop frivolous lawsuits against food companies and restaurants because the plaintiffs suffered from health problems due to obesity?
Should we end unfair country of origin labeling of snacks for good?

All of these issues will be on the table when we have our Day in D.C. Spring Summit next month.
But remember, to get results, you have to participate.
Jim McCarthy
President & CEO