More than 200 retailers, wholesalers and food industry state association executives from across the nation gathered in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to advocate for supermarket industry issues during the annual Day in Washington fly-in.
Retail members from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and the National Grocers Association (NGA) participated in more than 200 meetings with members of Congress and legislative staff during the single-day event to discuss policies surrounding preservation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) public-private partnership as well as enhanced payment card security. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, an industry advocate who recently received NGA’s Spirit of America Award, also spoke on behalf of food retail business issues.
“Food retailers take great pride in selling safe, quality and affordable food to the diverse neighborhoods they serve across the country,” Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of FMI, said in a statement. “This mission remains consistent; it’s the socioeconomic forces that are changing.”
The Bipartisan Policy Center in March released its SNAP report, recommending to prioritize nutrition in SNAP, strengthen SNAP-Ed, align SNAP and Medicaid, and coordinate federal and state agencies and programs. The report widely received backlash from retailers due to the imposition of additional fees on food retailers, as well as the collection and reporting of store-level sales data on all products purchased with SNAP funds.
The Day in Washington agenda largely focused on retailers’ opposition to new fees, reporting mandates or other costly administrative burdens on retailers, and working toward a robust payments ecosystem that enhances payment card security and transparency with an open standards-setting regime and supports secure dual routing for credit and stronger authentication methods at checkout.
“Our industry is transforming, and our members’ participation in the policymaking process has arguably never been more important,” Sarasin said. “Congress needs to hear firsthand examples from the food retail industry, as a direct witness to the behavioral, social and economic changes affecting the ways consumers shop for food—namely how the influences of technology, privacy and the shifts in consumer values affect their businesses.”
NGA President and CEO Peter Larkin shared similar concerns.
“As the debate on food and nutrition policies continue to unfold in our nation’s capital, it’s critical that supermarket operators engage in the political process, and as an industry, we speak with one collective voice to inform and educate members of Congress and their staff about the impact such policies have on day-to-day operations,” he said. “The supermarket industry plays a significant role in the nation’s economic footprint, but more importantly, on the local level as job creators and backbones of the communities. We are grateful for the grocery operators who took the time to leave their stores and come to Washington, D.C., to share their stories with policymakers on Capitol Hill.”