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Barry Scher is a government and retail consultant with Policy Solutions LLC. He is a 42-year veteran of Giant / Landover, where he has held a number of key positions, including as Vice President of Corporate Public Affairs. He can be reached at bscher@policy-solutions.net.

We have reached the halfway mark in 2020 and it has been a year. Coronoviruses have wreaked havoc with our daily lives, our work, our industry, etc., and now there is major civil unrest throughout the country, resulting in a black man being detained on a Memorial Day holiday in Minneapolis. The National Guard was called in more than half of our United States and counter demonstrations took place across the pond in many other countries. All of this is extremely disappointing and the absence of leadership from the White House is even more disturbing. We hope that leadership from other high levels of our federal and state governments combined with constructive guidance from local community and religious leaders brings us closer as we must find ways to prevent these serious diseases that are disrupting our society Huh. It’s not that things will get better. It is that things should be better. Yes, I’m upset, and you should be too.

Okay, I’m closing my soapbox to bring up to date on legislative and regulatory events in the nation’s capital that impact the food industry.

SNAP movement

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The epidemic continues to be the focal point of a lot of hearings and legislative and regulatory activity occurring on the hill. Certainly, the impact on the food industry has been widespread and much of it will remain for a long time. One of the major changes for food retailers will be the ability to accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) online. The Department of Agriculture has done a good job in the last few months to allow low-income families and individuals in most states to use their food benefits online. But House Member Sanford Bishop (D-GA), in a letter to USDA Secretary Sunny Perdue, said the USDA needs to approve more online retailers with presence in rural states and communities with limited access to grocery stores. Currently only a handful of companies that meet a handful of e-commerce requirements can accept the benefits of SNAP online. In most states, Amazon and Walmart are the only options as I have previously stated.

Bishop, the chairman of the Housing Agriculture-FDA subcommittee, wrote, “While the number of participating states is increasing, vendors primarily live in the Northeast region of the US.” Thus, while the USDA currently approves about 37 states to participate, accounting for 90 percent of SNAP households, Perdue commented that the USDA has more “independently owned and operated retail stores” There are plans to expand the program to. And Congressman Bishop went on to say that dollar store chains could offer online SNAP purchases to low-income families.

Using SNAP for Hot Food

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In mid-May, the House passed a $ 3 trillion “Heroes” epidemic relief bill. The legislation covers a wide range of state and local governments, hospitals, and aid programs, including SNAP. In addition to the increased funding for SNAP, the bill also allows for temporary use of benefits to buy hot food in restaurants or supermarkets. It is unlikely that the new relief law will pass any time near its current form any time soon, but it is possible that the provision of hot food will survive at least until the epidemic recedes.

Promoted the seafood industry

The nation’s response to the epidemic has caused severe damage to the seafood industry. As restaurants and hotels closed in every state to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the fresh seafood market dried up. To help address this, the president signed an executive order directing federal agencies to work for the expansion of sustainable seafood. The order focuses on deactivating the permitting process for aquaculture, speeding up other regulatory reforms, and making $ 300 million available to fishermen and seafood businesses hurt by COVID-19.

Meat industry problems continue, but a ray of hope exists

The meat industry continues to grapple with the impact of COVID-19 on its facilities and employees. Employee transition rates have risen and remain high, facilities continue to close and reopen, the industry is changing how it operates and is reviving millions of plants and still continues to decrease production. Leading newspapers including Washington Post And this new York Times Recently major stories have been written on this matter.

Nevertheless, according to Political trickster, The supply of meat is rebounding, and the scarcity of spot products should be skipped over the coming weeks as wholesale prices fall slowly and there is a ticking supply as it would normally in peak grilling seasons. After the plant closed, beef and pork processing plants are now operating at press time, over 80 percent capacity, Bloomberg news Reported.

Nevertheless, according to an item I noted in the publication business Insider, The business is booming for butchers and local meat processing operations, which have not faced the same coronavirus virus shutdowns as large-scale slaughterhouses across the country. The sudden demand for local meat processors comes after a long period of decline, with many small businesses squeezed by large chains.

Food Box Contract – Suspicious

To obtain food to the needy, the USDA increasingly planned to distribute boxes of surplus food to needy individuals and families. great thought! However, government watchmen have been dishonest, saying that multimillion-dollar contracts have gone to companies with no experience of working with food banks or farmers to distribute food boxes. And Political trickster It has even been mentioned that food industry experts are quietly emphasizing whether many companies that hire quickly buy a variety of bad foods, pack them in boxes and then feed them Can pull the distribution work in banks. The Box Food Delivery Program costs over $ 1.2 billion!

The House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition, Inspection and Operations of the Department issued a statement saying they were “concerned that the contract was awarded with no experience in agriculture or food distribution and with little capacity to meet their award obligations Gaya “and wants answers quickly. Is this another useless misconception in the government’s good intentions? we will see. Some contracts for preparing and distributing food boxes went to companies as an event planning firm that specializes in weddings; A firm that sells lotions and other wellness products at airports; And a California firm that offers “business finance solutions”. go figure.

Biological or not?

If it is grown in water, can it be called “organic”? You may remember that I have commented about this issue before because the Food Safety Center filed a lawsuit last March challenging the National Biological Standards Board’s decision to certify hydroponically grown products Give permission to do. Production of industry publications The packer There are reports that the Justice Department intervened and asked the court to dismiss the case. The judicial department’s action was lauded by the coalition for sustainable living. Whether it is grown hydroponically or in good old dirt, if it is not sprayed with chemicals, I would say that it is really organic!

dietary Guidelines

I have tried to keep readers up to date on the roll-out of dietary guidelines. Keep in mind that the main purpose of all important dietary guidelines is to formulate the development of federal food, nutrition and health policies and programs. Compare this to building construction. Dietary guidelines are the basis. Guidelines are an important tool for professionals, helping Americans prevent healthy diseases in their daily lives and enjoy a healthy diet. The next important step this month will come when the draft Dietary Guidelines Committee will be announced. Then taking comments and suggestions, the Advisory Committee will publish a final scientific report advising the USDA and HHS as they prepare the 2020 Dietary Guidelines.

The guideline, once completed and approved, will become a document for use by both the public and private sectors with a lifespan of five years, including a range of methods such as educational objectives as well as marketing tools . However, as is often expected, like any major and controversial project of this nature, the long road to completion of the 2020 Dietary Guidelines, often runs into obstacles. Why? Simply because a diverse list of organizations in this case is closely watching every step of the drafting process. Now, as the draft nears completion, Political trickster Reported that a group called the Nutrition Coalition wrote to the USDA and HHS asking them to delay issuing the findings of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The group alleges that some of the committee’s “whistleblowers” have come forward with “serious concerns” about the process. Concern has been noted with several fronts not having enough time to complete a scientific review to drop dozens of low-carb clinical trials, “The federal government cannot ignore these allegations and give them dietary guidelines.” The publication of the advisory committee’s expert report should be delayed. Nutrition Alliance executive director Nina Chicholz said, “To address them and possibly remind them.” We doubt if this whistleblower report will delay the draft report , But in government circles, no one ever knows which way the wind will blow. Watch for my additional updates next month.

have a great summer. Be safe

Barry Scher is associated with the public policy firm of Policy Solutions LLC and can be reached at Bscher@policy-solutions.net


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