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Massachusetts Association Juggling Various Legislative Issues

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Chris Flynn

Chris Flynn, president of the Massachusetts Food Association, said officials are dealing with various legislative issues, including the expansion of a bottle law, treatment of animals and credit cards.

Lawmakers in late 2021 approved a 2016 voter-approved law tweaked by lawmakers that requires larger enclosures for egg-laying chickens, according to the Gloucester Daily Times.

The referendum, which banned shelled eggs, veal and other meat produced by cage-confined farm animals, was approved by more than 77 percent of voters, the article reads.

“Lawmakers approved changes to the law reducing the size of the enclosures to 1 foot per bird, but differences between House and Senate versions of the bill had to be worked by a committee, which delayed approval of the changes,” the article reads. The initial requirement was 1.5 square feet per bird.

“The latest version of the bill will delay a ban on the sale of pork products from ‘cruelly confined’ pigs by seven and a half months.”

Flynn said the amended law is supposed to be implemented by Aug. 15.

Credit card fees

MFA, other state associations and FMI, NGA and other industry groups have been testifying to Congress on the subject of credit card fees.

“Visa and MasterCard essentially have a duopoly on credit card fees, and there’s no negotiating…it’s the largest cost outside of labor for any operator; you can’t not have credit cards,” Flynn said. “So, we’re working with the FMI and the other state associations and trying to see if they can put a more competitive situation in play.”

Plastics legislation

A “better bottle bill” is continuing to get traction as well, which would increase the bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents and “add more types of beverage containers to the program, putting a deposit on water bottles, vitamin drinks, nips and bottles for other drinks that weren’t contemplated when the initial law was adopted in the early 1980s,” according to wcvb.com.

“In order to get the bottles back, we believe it’s more cost effective and better for the consumer if they’re not dragging dirty bottles back to a food store,” Flynn said. “And they’re recycling them in the recycling infrastructure that’s available in almost every city in town in that state.”

In other plastics news, Flynn saw a slow down on any new plastic bag legislation, however, several municipalities have varying types of bag bans. MFA is considering a statewide approach to this matter.

The association would also like to “hold off” on any further bans of plastic water bottle sales, which have been implemented in some cities.

Supply chain

Massachusetts is no different when it comes to supply chain; substitution is the name of the game.

“Stores have gotten a little bit more creative about how they purchase and who they purchase from and finding alternate companies where one company can’t meet the needs, they find another company that produces the same type of product,” Flynn said.

It’s also motivating more grocers to buy locally.

“It’s also been the impact of retailers realizing there’s better service sourcing from local product producers where they can, because it takes some of the distribution issues out of the equation.”

He said the cost for customers can vary.

“I think it goes both ways,” Flynn said. “Like with some products, you’ll see a price reduction and in other products, depending on what it is, particularly if it’s fresh product. I think it could be a little bit more.” 

For more information, visit mafood.com.

For more association news from The Shelby Report, click here.

Article written by Eric Pereira / content creator

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