Home » A Congressional Year In Review And A Look To Future Action
National The Independent Perspective

A Congressional Year In Review And A Look To Future Action

The Independent's Perspective

Last updated on August 30th, 2022 at 02:43 pm

Similar to 2012, this past year’s themes encompassed those of partisan gridlock and legislative uncertainty, making it another challenging year for our industry. While the so-called “fiscal cliff” was averted in the very early hours of 2013, Americans experienced a partial government shutdown for the first time in more than a decade. Many issues, including the passage of a farm bill and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are likely to carry on in 2014; however, expectations for Congressional action on important issues such as comprehensive tax reform and immigration are not high, especially heading into the 2014 mid-term elections. One area we did see bipartisan support—and I hope such efforts continue into the new year—was on the regulatory reform side. In particular, there have been bipartisan legislative efforts to scale back the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from administering a one-size-fits-all chain restaurant menu labeling regulation.

Almost two years ago, the FDA proposed regulations that would capture grocery stores under a “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items at Chain Restaurants” provision that was included in the ACA. The law, as prescribed by Congress, was intended to provide a uniform standard for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations to comply with various state and local menu labeling laws, none of which have regulated grocery stores.

Although an overwhelming majority of food items sold in grocery stores currently provide nutrition information, the FDA released its proposal to expand the chain restaurant menu labeling regulations to incorporate the supermarket industry. Initial estimates for compliance costs of menu labeling for grocery stores exceed $1 billion, including nutrition analysis of each item, developing corresponding menu boards and signs, store-level training and recordkeeping. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget Office listed this particular menu labeling mandate as the third most costly and burdensome regulation in fiscal year 2010 alone.

In March of 2013, Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) and Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) introduced legislation, the Commonsense Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act (H.R. 1249), to limit the scope of how the FDA implements the chain restaurant menu labeling for the grocery store industry. Similarly, in November, a companion bill was introduced in the Senate, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act of 2013 (S. 1756), by Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Angus King (I-ME). NGA is proud of the bipartisan support this bill has received, and we’ll continue to collaborate with our industry partners to see this ­legislation signed into law.

While this legislation is just one example of how we can make progress on a bipartisan basis, there will be much work to do in 2014 to educate lawmakers and regulators about the positive impacts our industry has on the American economy.

NGA consistently engages with policymakers in Washington to advocate for commonsense policies that provide certainty to businesses, and ensure independent grocers aren’t subjected to costly expenses due to regulatory overreach so that our members can remain focused on growing their businesses and creating jobs. But, ensuring that legislators and regulators are aware of the many important issues surrounding independent grocers is just one part of the political process; it also involves engagement from those within our industry. NGA is working to educate our members on the significance of their involvement in the political process. We recently launched a new website, grocerstakeaction.org, which ­provides information to our members on how to contact their Congressional representative and take action on key industry issues. As an industry that has such a big economic footprint—$131 billion in sales, nearly 1 million jobs and $30 billion in wages—it is important that independent grocers’ interests, from the people we employ to the customers we serve day after day, are represented with one strong voice in Washington.

Featured Photos

Featured Photo PLMA Annual Private Label Trade Show
Donald E. Stephens Convention Center
Chicago, Illinois
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap