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Time To Remind Policymakers What Independent Grocers Mean Back Home

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Greg Ferrara

Last updated on April 11th, 2023 at 10:49 am

Independent community grocers are everywhere – in all 50 states, in every legislative district. They are at the heart of every community, from rural to urban.

Business is very much local for independent grocers. Yet so much of what influences that business happens in Washington, D.C.

The past year in Washington has been busy and successful. Last fall, NGA participated in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health. In doing so, we influenced the conference action plan to support the role independent grocers play in feeding millions of Americans by working to increase the number of grocery retailers authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program online purchases.

Our teams have been laying the groundwork with Congress as work on the 2023 Farm Bill focuses on successful programs such as the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program – also known in some areas as Double Up Food Bucks – while protecting SNAP from new harmful regulations and fees.  

We’ve seen real progress on critical issues such as reducing credit card swipe fees. And – for the first time in decades – the FTC appears poised to use the Robinson-Patman Act to rein in the abuses of dominant food retailers.

We want to keep this momentum going, and the most important component for that is you. That’s why I’m inviting any independent grocers who aren’t yet a member of NGA to join, and I’m calling on all members to participate in this year’s Fly-in for Fair Competition.

On June 6 and 7, join other independent retailers, wholesalers and state association executives in Washington, D.C., to advocate for a level playing field in the grocery industry by calling for enforcement of the Robinson-Patman Act. Participants will have the opportunity to meet with their representatives on Capitol Hill and discuss the issues most important to their businesses and impact the policymaking process.

During the opening keynote session at the recent NGA Show, Ted Balistreri shared his impression of the 2022 fly-in and why it’s important to our industry to get involved.

“What struck me about the experience was the credibility we have as an organization and as independent grocers,” said Balistreri, NGA board chairman and owner of Sendik’s Markets in Wisconsin.

“Time and again, it was clear in meeting with our Congresspeople that the refreshing authenticity we bring to the table and the high regard we have as leaders in our communities can be very persuasive. We are regular people dealing with real issues and that resonates across the political spectrum.”     

As Balistreri noted, it’s an opportunity for independent grocers to remind policymakers that they provide employment opportunities in their districts, feed their constituents and collectively generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.

“Our legislative representatives need to understand the important roles we play in our communities, the jobs we create, the essential products and services we provide and the challenges we face,” he said.

No one can tell our story better than we can, and by doing so at the fly-in, we’ll help continue the momentum of our advocacy gains of the past year.

Reinforcing those efforts on Capitol Hill are opportunities to host store visits for members of Congress in their home districts, so they can see – up close and personal – how community institutions are impacted.

In the words of Abraham Lincoln, the most reliable way to predict the future is to create it. NGA members participating in the Fly-In for Fair Competition will be helping to create a better future for our businesses and communities.

About the author

Greg Ferrara

President and CEO of NGA

Greg Ferrara is the President and CEO of NGA. The National Grocers Association is the trade association representing the U.S. independent community supermarket industry. NGA members include retail and wholesale grocers located in every congressional district across the country, as well as state grocers’ associations, manufacturers and service suppliers.

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